Scott A. Reed
This review is for the English version of Bezzerwizzer, by Mattel.
Bezzerwizzer is a trivia game in which players or teams race to the goal line by having superior knowledge.
The goal of the game is to be the first player or team to cross the finish line. Unlike other race-based trivia games, multiple players or teams can cross the finish line in the same round, and those players or teams then play successive question rounds until only one still remains.
The game board is square, with spaces marked out in a ring for the play-course. The spaces in the last row of the play-course before the goal are marked with dots which indicate that players may affect the pieces on those spaces in the later course of the game. Each of the board-edges are marked with a color which match the colors of the players' or teams' play boards.
The players or teams have play-boards which are used to set-up that round's trivia selections. These are all marked with a color that corresponds to that color's playing piece (which is used on the main board) and that color's bonus tiles. The play boards have four boxes, each marked above with a point value.
There are 20 category tiles and a draw-bag from which to pull them. The tiles are a plastic substance, perhaps bakelite. In addition to these general category tiles, each color has three bonus tiles, two "b" and one "z". Finally, there are 200 cards, each with a questions in the 20 categories. These are kept in a small box for ease of drawing and storage.
How to play
After selecting a start-player, each person or team draws four category tiles from the draw bag. These categories are in such diverse topics as Architecture, Politics, Science, Music, Film, Television, and Literature. The player or team then determines in which category they will perform best, and places the tiles on their play board accordingly, with the most-familiar subject in the 4-point space, all the way down to the least-familiar subject in the 1-point space. After all players or teams have placed thier tiles, the round begins with the next player or team in turn sequence asking the question for the active player. If a player or team gets the answer correct, they move the piece for that player or team the indicated number of points on the score track. Then the turn moves to the next player in turn sequence who passes the card-box to the next player. In this manner, each player or team will answer their 4-point question before moving on to their 3-point question, and so on until all players have answered the questions in their selected categories. When the round is finished, all players return their category tiles to the bag, the start player moves to the next person clockwise, and all players again draw four tiles and repeat the round process.
When one player or team crosses the finish line, that signals the last round of regular play. After all players or teams have been asked the same number of questions (i.e. after finishing out that point-level question round) if only one player or team has crossed the finish line, they are the victors. If multiple players or teams have crossed, there is a duel in which the those players or teams must continue to answer single questions until only one player or team is left standing.
The Special Tiles
Players have three special tiles they can use during each round. When the tiles are played during the round, they are turned face-down, but are returned face-up at the end of the round.
The "b" tiles - Bezzerwizzer!
The "b" tiles allow a player or team to jump-in on another player or team's answer. These tiles are used in two ways.
- After the question is read, a player or team can declare "Bezzerwizzer!" for an opportunity to answer the question after the active player or team.
- Before the question is read, a player or team can declare "Bezzerwizzer!" for an opportunity to answer the question after the active player or team.
Regardless of when the tile is played, the active player or team still has the opportunity to answer the question.
*If the active player or team gets the answer correct, they score points as normal and the "b" tile has no effect.
*If the active player or team misses the question, and the player or team who jumped in gets it correct, the jump-in team gets 1 extra point if they declared "Bezzerwizzer!" after the question was read, or 3 points if they declared "Bezzerwizzer!" before the question was read.
**If the active player or team misses the question, and the player or team who jumped in gets it correct, and the active player or team is in the home-stretch (the spaces marked with dots on the board), the jump-in team may instead opt to move the active player or team back one space.
*If both the active team and the jump-in team answer incorrectly, there is no effect for the active team, but the jump-in team loses 1 point. A team cannot move backward past the start space.
In all cases, the "b" tile is turned face-down after use.
The "z" tile - Zwap!
The "z" tile allows the active player or team to swap any two face-up tiles in the game. This means that the active player or team could switch two of their own tiles, or they could swap tiles out with an opponent, or they could swap tiles among opponents. The tiles that are swapped replace the tiles for which they are swapped, so there is no further re-ordering of tiles (e.g. Team Blue switches their 1-point tile with Team Red's 4-point tile. The tile taken from Team Red will go in Team Blue's 1-point slot, and the tile given to Team Red will go in their 4-point slot).
The "z" tile is turned face-down after use.
Bezzerwizzer is a pretty good light party trivia game. I liked that players are given a little more choice in determining what categories of questions they will answer (and that there are 20 potential categories to choose from). The mechanism of assigning point values to the categories is rather novel, and that means that a player who draws an unfamiliar category can relegate it to the lower-valued end of the board while capitalizing on the familiar categories.
I very much like the sheer variety of categories. As a sometimes Trivial Pursuit player, I'm annoyed that the six arbitrary categories used in the game can be a total crapshoot, and that 1/6 of the board focuses on sports, my least-favorite area of knowledge. The breadth of categories in Bezzerwizzer gives players the opportunity to show their strengths and marginalize their weaknesses.
For a little criticism, the mechanisms and flow seemed a little clunky. We played with a group of four people, and we determined that we had to create a turn sequence to make the action fair. First, the active player was asked if he or she wanted to use his or her Zwap tile, since that could have an impact on what question gets asked that round. Following that, we had to ask if anyone wanted to jump-in before the question was read with a Bezzerwizzer tile. Then, after the question was read, we again allowed a pause for anyone to jump-in with a post-question Bezzerwizzer tile. This also became a little problematic for the question-reader for the timing of when it was appropriate to jump-in with a post-question Bezzerwizzer tile. Perhaps this is something that groups would overcome with more play and greater familiarity with the game, but it was a little problematic for our group.
Second, though I love a good broad-based trivia game, I felt like the questions in Bezzerwizzer were a little easy for my tastes. But, that being said, I was only exposed to ~40 questions in a broad range of categories, so I might not have a complete picture.
Bezzerwizzer deserves at least a couple of plays this holiday season. If this does fill a good trivia niche with my play-groups and Mattel supports it in the US market, I look forward to future card expansions.
See this text? It's a gratuitous waste of GeekGold.
The game itself isn't important. Spending time intellectually jousting with likeminded folks is the real reason to game.
After having went through 200 of the questions in BezzerWizzer, I found that the questions were so easy that it detracted greatly from the game. Our group had about a 90% success rate on the questions, which made it very hard to do any sort of gamesmanship.