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Subject: Not A Turkey On Turkey Day rss

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Paul O'Connor
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San Marcos
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Dominic Crapuchettes of North Star Games was kind enough to send me a copy of Wits & Wagers because I made a smartass proctologist joke about Formula D last week. I rolled it out for a house-full of skeptical quasi-gamers and am please to report success!

It was the usual post-turkey scene ... the family scattering to the four corners of the house to watch football, play Rock Band, or just duck doing the dishes. A game of Apples to Apples had gone off before dinner and the cards were still strewn about like a bomb had exploded (my relatives like picking up games a bit less than they like playing them). I cleaned up a stretch of table, rolled out Wits & Wagers' gambling green, set up the slates and the timer and cards, and waited for folks to wander by.

I'd never played the game before, but the rules seemed simple enough, and Dominic had been kind enough to provide some insight on how best to teach the game through geekmail. The one thing I was determined to do was attract lots of players -- I wanted all seven spots filled, either by single players or teams. And so it took a little bit of friendly press-ganging to get a crowd around the table. But with seven or eight bodies dragooned into service I grabbed the first card and asked a question about (I think) the longest recorded length of a whale and we were on our way.

The game ticked right along -- after a question or two we knew what we were doing, and we hit the finish line at full sprint with a chorus of "let's play again," which qualifies the game as a hit. I was impressed with how this design cleverly side-steps the "I don't play trivia games because I don't want to feel stupid" barrier by asking questions that almost no one can answer (leveling the field) and shifting the action to the betting table (where the game becomes more about groupthink and sizing people up than it does about knowledge). There were some collateral laughs, too, as we argued over answers and questions, which is a further mark of a good trivia-style game.

We played twice and I can't remember who won (which is another point in the game's favor, as these kinds of games are about shared experiences far more than wins and losses). I do remember that Wits & Wagers was a considerably tighter and quicker experience than the Taboo game which immediately followed (and overstayed its welcome).

We'll definitely play again. Thanks to Dominic and North Star Games for entertaining my confused relatives on turkey day!

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