My full review of Buffalo can be found here:
A full list of my board game reviews can be found on the same site here:
(Thanks to Dad's Gaming Addiction for the layout idea)
How fast can you name a vain artist? How about a glasses-wearing heartthrob? What do a flamboyant pop star, a blind scientist, and a skinny superhero have in common? You'd better think fast, or your fellow player will leave you buffaloed.
Social games can be a great way to brighten up a dull party, but the trick is finding just the right game that the group can get into. Some people are OK with games that have some risqué themes to them (Cards against Humanity) while others might want a game to go along with their pint of beer (Drunk Quest). Buffalo, by Tiltfactor, might just be one of those rare games that ends up universally enjoyed by just about anyone at a party.
How to Play!
There are two gigantic stacks of different-colored word cards which should be shuffled (not together, of course) and placed in two separate piles. After a minute or so of shuffling, we picked a person to be in charge of flipping over the cards and we were ready to start.
The game starts with two cards drawn and flipped over in front of everyone. Each card will list a vague noun or adjective. The first person to shout out a real or fictional person that matches the description of both cards successfully wins those two cards. For example, if the cards "female" and "Redneck" were up and I said "Gretchen Wilson", “Daisy Duke” or even “my sister-in-law Jackie”, I would win that set of cards and a new set would come out.
If everyone playing gets stumped on one pair of cards, or there's only one card to match on the table, everyone calls out "Buffalo", and the dealer adds another set to the mix. At this point, players can mix and match any of the cards on the table to make a successful combination. The more you combine, the more cards you get! There's also a special bonus: The player who makes a successful match when a card with the buffalo logo is on the table gets to keep ALL the cards on the table.
While there are over two hundred word cards in each deck, buffalo cards will occasionally pop up. The first person to make a match while a buffalo card is on the table gets to take ALL of the face up cards, even if they remain unmatched. Once the decks run out, players will count their score piles and the person with the most cards, wins.
If these basic rules are too easy for you, there's options included in the manual to up the difficulty level. The "pro" rules variant forces players to match all of the cards on the table in order to earn any buffalo cards and the "repetition" variant will keep you from using the same name twice. Plus, there's nothing holding you back from introducing your own customized set of rules, such as taking a drink of your beverage should you shout out a wrong answer or losing out on the next play if you shout out the wrong answer. Alternatively, if you feel like playing more casually, you can simply play the game without keeping track of points.
The most enjoyable aspect of playing Buffalo has to be watching how each person's mind works out an acceptable match. Seeing the light go on and the jubilant expression as someone calls out an answer is well worth the price of admission. Though we did come across a few "buffalo" moments, the pace of the game moved along quite smoothly. If games last too long, people will feel like they're missing the party. Most of the games we played lasted about 30 minutes which seems to be the sweet spot for playing a game at a party.
I'd like to touch on the back-story to Buffalo for a moment because I found it very interesting. The game was developed as part of a National Science Foundation-funded project called “Transforming Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) for Women and Girls: Reworking Stereotypes & Bias.” The grant enabled Tiltfactor, with additional assistance from the National Girls Collaborative Project, to research and create a number of games, with designs informed by psychological theory and research, aimed at reducing gender bias and broadening participation in STEM. Buffalo was one of these games. Initial data suggests that Buffalo reduces prejudice and encourages greater inclusiveness in players’ representations of social identity groups. So not only are you playing a highly entertaining game, but there's some really neat social science going on in the background that you didn't even notice. Mind blown!
Buffalo is hands down (or up if you prefer) an awesome party game that gets those brain cells working in overtime. It has a mass appeal similar to games such as Apples to Apples and Word on the Street. So if you're looking for a game that would cater to a wide variety of people at your next shin-dig, Buffalo is the choice we'd recommend.