(all pictures included in this review, courtesy of Alex Smith's image submissions)
"Bid" is a quick and simple trivia game with (as the title suggests) a bidding mechanic, where the aim isn't to be the first to answer, or to identify every single right answer, or to travel around a board collecting "correct answer" tokens, but instead to be able to identify the most correct answers out of a collection of given possibilities. Sounds vague? Well, yes, my description is, so keep on reading to get the full picture. This is the High Level section after all.
Firstly, my comments here about contents are in reference to the version pictured above. I believe there was a downloaded version available too, and the instructions even make reference to a website where you can download and print out new questions, but this website has disappeared into the broken strands of yesterweb, so I only have the boxed version to go on.
The game box itself is pretty small (about 7"x4"x1"), so you can imagine the contents aren't numerous. But then again, they don't need to be. So, what do we get?
- A small instructions leaflet
- A set of about 100 question cards
- A pad of about 50 score sheets
All the contents are simple and clear monochrome, the print's a good size so there shouldn't be eyestrain for anyone with eyesight problems, and the question cards are pretty reasonable quality. All in all, nothing to complain about.
As you can see from the above, the game isn't played using a board or any central feature that everyone needs to focus on, so games can easily be played with everyone just laying around, thus making the experience a very good lazy, casual game for when everyone's a bit too tired to sit around a table for an hour or more.
So, how's the gameplay go?
Well, let's start things back to front. End game conditions: The rules themselves don't state any. You simply keep playing until you want to stop. The person who's scored the most points at that point wins. The score cards themselves are divided up to have enough room for 6 'rounds' of play on them, so this is a logical limit to play to, but you can of course continue beyond that. Or, as we did in a game recently, simply count 6 rounds for everyone as 1 'game', and then just keep track of how many games everyone's won as the overriding tally. Either, or, it's up to you.
Bouncing back to starting the game - one person is picked as the Reader for the first round of play. The Reader can be considered the question master for that round and doesn't take part in the actual gaming, with the Reader position cycling around the players for subsequent rounds. As a result, if you were to play the game 6 player, and you were going to stop the game after everyone had scored in the 6 rounds available on their scoring sheet, the game would actually play for 7 rounds (with player 1 Reading on the first round, player 2 on the second, and so on).
So, with an individual round, we have one person Reading, all the others playing and scoring. The Reader takes the next question card from the box and, keeping the card hidden from the other players, reads aloud the question category (for example, "African Countries"). Printed below this on the card are 10 possible answers for the category - some (a number that is unknown to the other players) are incorrect (e.g. the aforementioned card may have as its answers: "1. Angola, 2. Buranda, 3. Burkina Faso, etc." - Buranda would be one of the incorrect ones, the other two being correct). The Reader then reads out all the possibilities in order, twice. The other players obviously have to try and work out which of the 10 given options are correct. Now, this is where the bidding comes in.
Starting clockwise from the Reader, each player gets to bid just once on how many correct answers they think they can name.
When everyone has stated their bid, the person that makes the highest bid gets to state their guesses first (if two people are tied on their bid, the person that bid first guesses first). This player then states their bidded number of guesses as to which of the 10 they think are correct. The Reader gives no indication as to whether any individual guess is correct or not, as this could help future guessers. When the player has stated all of their bidded number of guesses, the Reader then informs them whether all of that player's guesses are correct. If none, or only some, of their guesses are correct, the Reader informs everyone that that player's bid is considered to have failed, and the next highest bidder may then states their guesses (and so on, until all players have had a go). If all of their guesses are indeed correct, that person is considered to be the round winner, the round is over (no-one else gets to state their guesses), and scoring is performed. Note: The winner doesn't have to have guessed every correct answer on the card, just that every answer they give must be one of the correct ones.
If the round has a winner, the winner themselves scores points equal to their bid (e.g. you win the round by bidding, guessing and naming 5 African Countries, you score 5 points). Everyone else loses points equal to the difference between their bid and the winner's (e.g. you bid 8, but couldn't name 8 correct answers, and the next person bid 5 and they did, you lose 3 points - similarly, you lose 3 points if you bid 2 in the same round as the winner bid 5, even though the opportunity to state your guesses never even reached you).
If no-one is able to bid and come up with a collection of 'all correct' answers, everyone scores 0 for that round.
Scores are cummulative from round to round.
I actually quite like this trivia game.
The cycling of the Reader means everyone gets a bit of mental downtime, as well as a bit of "smugtime" where you have all the answers in front of you and everyone else is trying to brainbust and outsmart each other.
I think the sequential bidding works really well. Being the first bidder, do you gamble and bid high, hoping no-one else will out-bid you and you get to guess first? Bidding last, do you also gamble high just to snatch the guessing rights from those in front of you, or bid low, hoping they'll all get at least one answer wrong? Or maybe, if it's a category you hate, maybe bid roughly in the middle, hoping the guessing will never reach you, but at least you'll have minimised your point loss by having bid close to the person you think will win? There's quite a bit of strategy here. Also, with the cycling of the Reader, your position in the bidding is always changing, which calls on different strategies from round to round.
It's always quite nice that you don't actually have to identify all the correct answers - you just need to correctly identify more than the other players are willing to try for.
Also, there's always the fun where, say, someone bids 5 and reads out their answers and gets told they're not all correct - the game moves onto you (you had also bid 5, but the other person had bid before you), but you had been intending to say exactly the same answers as the last person! Ack! Obviously, it's no good going with those now, so what do you go with? You can't ask the Reader to recap the answer list (you only get read it the twice), so can you remember which others sounding vaguely plausible? Which one of yours will you swap out for it?
I also like the way that although you know each question will have 10 answers, you really have no idea how many correct ones are present. As a Reader, sometimes there's nothing funnier than seeing there's only 5 correct answers on the card and seeing the players outbid themselves with bids of 6 or 7. It can be tricky to keep a straight face and not give anything away when people start reeling off their guesses.
My only real complaint is the number of question cards. It would be nice if there were a few more as I imagine you could burn through them pretty quickly. And, unfortunately, with the mentioned website being down these days, there's not a handy supply of replacements. I suppose you could make your own, but then you'd know all the answers, so that's not a great solution.
All in all, I think the game is a fun little casual game that a lot of the family can chip in and play. I can imagine parents, teens, and grandma just sat around in armchairs, feet up, and relaxing as they play after a hearty dinner. And grandma beating everyone because she remembers what countries were called pre World War II, and that darned question card came up again.
It is the only trivia game I am willing to even consider playing because there's a game as well.