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"Trivia is the glue of life"

This was said by my middle-school science teacher after he had rambled for some 10 minutes about an obscure fact. Rambling aside, I still find this statement pertinent to this very day.

Trivia is the little nothingness that you know when you know too much about a topic. Trivia is a bit of information that most people don't know or actively ignore because they don't need to know. Trivia is what connects one obscure fact to another.

But this is not supposed to be a life lesson. Instead it is a review of a board game. Actually, Trivial Pursuit is no longer "a" board game, but is a dynasty featuring enough variants to entertain even the most clueless of trivia amateurs. Thus this review will cover various Trivial Pursuits I have played and detail how most play it incorrectly.

1. What are the components?

A board that looks like a wheel with spokes, trivia cards in six categories, and various player pieces that collect wedges to signify greatness in a given category. I think that covers pretty much every version in existence. Next.

2. How does it play?

Roll the die, move your piece to a trivia question. Answer the question correctly to go again. When on a special wedge space, answering the question correctly results in a colored wedge. Collecting all colored wedges is necessary to win the game.

Now I mentioned that many people play Trivial wrong and this is where - in moving your piece. Most people move their piece by sticking close to the trivia category they think they are best at. Once they win said wedge, they move on to their second best category, and so on. It turns out this is dumb. Focus instead on any wedges you do not have and always, always stay between two you have not taken yet. Guess what? This effectively doubles your chances of landing on a wedge. Now it is up to you earn it.

After collecting all the wedges, move to the center for a final question chosen by your opponents. To be fair, this is the dullest part of the game so many people just play till one player collects all the wedges. See easy fix. Moving on.

3. Is it fun?

If answering trivia questions is fun for you, then you should have a good time. If Jeopardy makes your skin crawl or if you have nightmares about Go To The Head Of The Class, then I would pass on this series of games. That said, here are a few pointers and things to watch out for.

-- ALWAYS stay between two wedges you do not have. I know this was already mentioned, but it is that important.

-- I don't care how many people there are, ALWAYS play with two teams. This reduces down time dramatically and increases your odds of answering questions correctly.

-- Analog vs. Digital. Newer versions of Trivial have DVDs. These games play much faster (about 30mins) because there is a new rule that allows the other team to steal wedges. The traditional, analog games tend to run 2hrs in our gaming groups.

-- Avoid the Baby Boomers edition. I was too young to be part of this generation and regard a night of playing this as time I will never get back. On the plus side, it became a test of honor to finish the game, which we did.

-- When reading questions, don't look at the back of the card. Try to guess the answer yourself. If you do look at the back, think of a hint for the other team for when they give up.

-- There are hints in the questions! You don't have to know everything about everything, but you do have to look for the hints.

-- There are patterns in the answers. The same cities or people often are repeated within a single game. For example, in the original blue-box version of Trivial, a question about a boxer was either about Muhammad Ali or Joe Frazer. This is now a 50-50 answer.

4. Recommendation.

I hesitated doing a review of the Trivial. I know there are better games to be played and certainly games with more strategy. But sometimes we just need to see if all the useless information in our heads is worth anything. At these times, I relish in the odd tidbits I can remember when playing a game of Trivial with the friends.

My middle-school teacher indicated the trivia was the glue of life. For my friends and I, building and sharing such trivia has kept us together for quite some time. That is why I like the Trivial and hope you will too.

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