The Family Gamers
[use the link here to see this review in its original form with pictures on The Family Gamers website]
In 1982, a few newspaper editors came together to eventually create a game that became a household phenomenon. Using a non-linear board that facilitated stumping friends with trivia questions across various disciplines, Trivial Pursuit became firmly entrenched in the cultural zeitgeist of the United States. But for Gen-Xers and Millennials, it existed as a game with impossibly difficult questions and nebulous goals. What was the point of the game? Although the game mechanics were approachable and understandable for all ages, the needed knowledge made Trivial Pursuit difficult to play for all but the most knowledgeable adults.
Griddly Games seized on this mechanic with the release of their family trivia game, Wise Alec. With a similarly styled board and a wealth of trivia questions to bear, does Wise Alec capture the charm that created a household name? Let’s look and see.
Wise Alec is a 2-6 player game for players 8+. We’ve played with children down to about six, with varying success. As with many trivia games, the biggest barrier is reading, but if adults are involved in the game, at least one can always help with reading the trivia questions.
When you first open up the game, you’re greeted with a multicolored board with looping, multidirectional pathways. There are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple colored spaces, with the purple spaces bearing the Wise Alec logo.
Each player chooses a colored token and puts them all on the same start space. On each player’s turn they roll a standard six-sided die, then move their player token in any direction they want to, counting out the spaces. Once the player lands on a colored space, they have to take an action based on that color. The red, green, or yellow squares correspond to trivia questions from different subjects: history, science, and spelling respectively. Blue squares allow the player to choose the subject, orange squares allow the player to the right of the active player to choose the subject, and purple squares mean Wise Alec cards! These are random cards that could give or take away points for silly reasons, or have a tongue twister or brain teaser.
Wise Alec uses an easy/difficult dynamic with the subject cards which does a great job of levelling the playing field for multiple ages. According to the rules of the game, the easier question is worth three points while the harder is worth seven. In practice, we varied the point values each time we played, to make it harder for the adults to acquire points and easier for the kids.
The rules feature several different methods of play to determine who wins the game. This flexibility (along with point allocation) really allow the family to tailor their play experience to one that suits them and their situation. The rules suggest three options: a point threshold, a countdown (who can get the most points in 20 minutes?), and different point thresholds for the different ages (10 points per year!)
Wise Alec is a wonderful, straightforward trivia game that uses the board game experience to physically bring people around the table. The questions themselves could just as easily be asked on a car ride or sitting on the couch, but the act of moving the pawns around the board and the slight restrictions of question type depending on what spots are available make it a little bit more interactive.
Although the mechanics of Wise Alec are simplistic, that isn’t necessarily a problem for families that aren’t comfortable with thematic games. In a world where many games feature violence (even implicitly), it’s nice to be able to sit back and enjoy a straightforward trivia game from time to time. Coupled with some silly tasks like “Impress everyone with your best ‘Runway Walk’” to penalties like “Oops! You passed gas!” and Wise Alec is a nice way to unplug from the business of everyday life and reconnect with the family around the gaming table. At just $20, it’s an easy buy.
The Family Gamers received a review copy of Wise Alec from Griddly Games.
Family Fun: 6/10
Playtime: 15-60 minutes (you decide!)
Age Range: 8+