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Subject: Say Anything Family Edition - A Detailed Review rss

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Dr. Dam
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This review continues my series of detailed reviews that attempt to be part review, part resource for anyone not totally familiar with the game. For this reason I expect readers to skip to the sections that are of most interest.

Summary

Game Type - Party Game
Play Time: 30 Minutes
Number of Players: 3-6
Mechanics - Wagering, Social Interaction
Difficulty - Pick-up & Play (Can be learned in 2 minutes)
Components - Very Good
Release - 2011

Designer - Dominic Crapuchettes (Cluzzle, Gambit 7, Say Anything, Wits & Wagers)


Image Courtesy of EndersGame

Overview

Say Anything Family Edition is yet another high quality party style game from North Star Games and follows on the heels of their very popular Wits and Wagers and the original release of Say Anything.

Say Anything is a social experience that allows players to learn about each other whilst having a great time doing it. Whilst it is a game to be won, it is also a great centerpiece for conversations and as such works wonderfully well as an ice-breaker at parties, especially where some of the guests may not know one another.

For simplicities sake I will refer to the game from now on as Say Anything. Just bear in mind that this review does indeed focus on the Family Edition.

Let’s take a closer look.

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The Components

Given the game’s relative simplicity, Say Anything takes relatively few components to get things started.

d10-1 Question Cards – The game comes with a total of 60 Question Cards. Each card features 6 questions in total, 3 on a blue side and 3 on a yellow side. That makes for a total of 360 questions in total…you can tell I head the Numeracy team at my primary school can’t you!


Image Courtesy of EndersGame

d10-2 Dry Erase Answer Boards and Markers – The game comes with 6 differently coloured answer boards upon which the players will use their markers to record answers to questions each round. The boards are sized well to allow enough room for answers, whilst being restrictive enough to ensure that answers are kept to the point.


Image Courtesy of EndersGame

d10-3 Player Tokens – Each player receives 2 small tokens in their matching colour (and featuring their little meeple image) which are used to select answers once the game is underway.


Image Courtesy of EndersGame

d10-4 Scoreboard – A larger scoreboard is provided to keep track of the points scored by each player in each round. It features those same meeple icons and the colours of each player to identify one player’s scores from another and is a nice bit of design to keep the components tied to one another.


Image Courtesy of EndersGame

d10-5 Select-O-Matic 6000 – This is the cute and qwirky name given to the answer selector used by the Judge each round. It is simply a small disc that features the 6 player colours and a pointer that can be moved. Think ‘spinner without the spin’ and you’ve got it.


Image Courtesy of EndersGame

d10-6 Rules – In keeping with a game of this light and fun nature, the rules to Say Anything are brief and to the point. They allow the players to begin playing literally minutes after removing the shrink wrap and that makes the game perfect for dinner parties and the like where those taking part are not rulebook buffs.

I don’t exaggerate when I say that it would be possible to stop past a game store on the way to a dinner party to buy the game and the group could still be playing within 2 minutes of opening the box.

It’s also worth noting that the rulebook offers a little bit of background to the designers. This combined with the humorous Select-O-Matic 6000 paints a picture that North Star Games have one goal in mind. To create games that are fun to play and they want to share their passion for doing so with as many people as possible. I don’t usually comment on such things but it is evident here and I think appropriate and desirable for a game of this nature. Heck if I get a good vibe from the components…I already have a positive attitude going into the game. That’s good marketing (sorry I have a marketing degree that I’ve under utilised).


Image Courtesy of EndersGame

d10-7 Box Insert – Say Anything has an insert worth keeping, with places for the markers, Select-O-Matic 6000 and the larger scoreboard. All in all it is well thought out and shows that thought was put into the box design.


Image Courtesy of EndersGame

All in all the components to Say Anything are highly functional with some nice design touches.


Image Courtesy of TheBoardGameFamily

The Set-Up

It literally takes all of about 30 seconds to set up the game. Each player takes an answer board, matching tokens and a dry erase marker. One player takes charge of the scoreboard and the questions are placed in the middle of the table. The game is ready to begin.

The Play

Say Anything is played in rounds. In each round a single player takes the role of the Judge, whilst the other players must record answers to the question posed. The youngest player gets to go first as the Judge.

d10-1 The Question – The Judge simply takes the top card from the deck and can select any of the questions from that card to read to the players.

d10-2 The Answering – The players then respond to the question by writing down an answer as quickly as they can. The speed element can be important as the Judge can decree that two answers are too similar. In that case the player that placed their answer board on the table first gets to keep their answer, whilst all other players deemed to be too slow must come up with a new answer.

Of course sometimes the most witty answers take a little time so speed may not always be of the essence.

d10-3 The Lobbying – Once the answers are in it is quite acceptable for the players to lobby the Judge to try and convince them that their answer is the best, most appropriate, correct, funny etc etc. This is a large part of the fun and takes the game from a straight question and answer game to a more socially driven experience.

d10-4 The Judging – Now it is time for the Judge to decide on which answer they like best or think is most appropriate and this is where Say Anything avoids reverting to the Trivia format because each question is framed by the header, “In My Opinion”. Therefore the players really have to try and come up with an answer that relates to the Judge for that round! More on that in my pros and cons section below.

The Judge simply selects their favourite answer from those on offer by using the Select-O-Matic 6000 and turning the pointer to the colour of their answer choice.

This is kept secret however from the other players by being placed face down on the table.

d10-5 The Guessing – Once the Judge has selected their preferred answer the players can take a look at them and it is their job to try and pick which answer the Judge has selected. The players use their tokens to record their choices by simply placing them on the answer board or boards of their choosing. A player can place both tokens on the one board if they think it is a dead certainty or they can hedge their bets by selecting two boards. And indeed they do not have to back their own answer if they feel someone else has come up with something more accurate or witty that will appeal to the Judge.

d10-6 The Reveal and Scoring – Once all tokens have been distributed, the Judge reveals their preferred answer and everyone laughs and bemoans the Judge's selection.

A point is earned for every token placed on the answer selected by the Judge. A bonus point is also earned by the player that came up with the selected answer. The Judge also earns 1 point for each token placed on the answer they selected, although no single player of the game can earn more than 3 points in a single round.

It is worth noting that all of the above (a single round) can take no more than 1-2 minutes, so the game keeps moving quickly. Given the nature of the game though the players may well come across a question and answers that act as conversation pieces and this can lead to interesting discussions outside of the game itself.

d10-7 A New Round and Game End– A new round is begun by simply passing on the Select-O-Matic 6000 to the next player in a clockwise direction and they become the Judge. The game allows each player to be the Judge a total of 2 times and at the end of the final round the scores are tallied and the player with the most points is decreed the winner. In the case of a tie the glory is shared.

So What's to Like? – The Pros

There are many things to like about Say Anything Family Edition…

d10-1 Avoiding the Trivia Trap – North Star pride themselves on making socially enjoyable games that avoid the trap of classic trivia games. Say Anything is not about who knows the most…its actually about who knows the other people well or well enough to create answers that are either true for them or will appeal to them the most. In essence the game is not about the game itself…the players are in fact the game and the questions are simply the facilitator. Clever stuff. thumbsup

d10-2 The Psychology – But the game is not content with stopping there as it then adds another layer. If the game was simply about knowing the other players well, it could still lead to certain players having an advantage (not unlike the trivia buff in trivia games) as the couples may well have an advantage over any singles playing or new people to a social group.

Instead Say Anything allows the players total freedom in the answers they give. Combine this with the ability of players to state their case for their answer (lobby) and suddenly other elements such as humour, witty responses and old fashioned persuasion come into play. For a game that is all about the social experience this is very clever stuff indeed. Suddenly the players find themselves trying to appeal to the sensibilities of the Judge and in doing so they may even get to know people better by the conclusion of the game.

d10-3 A Game to Appeal to a Wide Audience and a Variety of Settings – Say Anything is a game that has a place in just about every home. For gamers it can be that great title perfect for Gaming Conventions or as an opener or closer to a gaming session. But even more powerful, Say Anything has the ability to appeal to the millions of non-gamers out there. It is the perfect game for dinner parties (glass of wine anyone?) as it is fun, short and can serve as an ice-breaker should there be people who don’t know each other very well. Beyond that it is perfect for family 'get-togethers' and other social functions because it is simply about fun and doesn’t make anyone feel silly. Even the less witty amongst a group can have fun and have a chance to do well because they can pick other people’s answers if they wish.

d10-4 Inclusion – Which leads me to my next point…the importance of inclusion. If a game truly wants to be social, it needs to be inclusive, allowing all players to take part and have a good time doing so. We’ve all taken part in those trivia game nights where you or Uncle John over there are playing but feel like a total idiot because they can’t answer a single question. It’s painful…for them and those around them…thanks Trivial Pursuit! zombie

d10-5 Good Length – Unlike that latest Hollywood period piece blockbuster that takes itself way too seriously and drags on for 3 hours, Say Anything knows exactly what it is. By this I mean it shouldn’t go for more than 20-30 minutes unless of course the players wish to engage in lengthy discussions around a particular topic thrown up by the game.

d10-6 Promoting Discourse for the Commoner – Say Anything probably won’t have the table engaging in topics such as the meaning of life, but it does promote discussion and debate about fun and interesting topics such as, ‘Who is the coolest cartoon character of all time?’ and ‘What is the most ridiculous hairstyle of all time?’.

In doing so it allows almost anyone to take part in conversations and it also underlines the games Family Edition nature as many of the questions have been deliberately formulated with younger people in mind.

Given its ability to get people talking and the inclusion factor, Say Anything Family Edition would be perfect for many a classroom too to get kids to talk to one another and learn the power of persuasion, which is a writing text type and learning focus for children as young as 8 and 9 (in Australia anyway).

d10-7 Longevity – One of the biggest problems posed by any game ever made that features a question and answer core is, ‘How long until the questions become known and players can answer from memory?’.

Well of course Say Anything ducks this problem beautifully because the questions are linked directly back to the Judge that is asking them and framed by that header of, “In my Opinion?”. Therefore each question has no one correct answer unless the exact same question is posed by the same player over multiple plays.

And even then because the game allows lobbying...and witt and humour are often at the forefront, the same player may actually choose different answers to the same question anyway.

So in other words the 360 questions offered by the game may likely never get old. Problem solved!

d10-8 Fun and Social Interaction – But this review would not be accurate if I didn’t point out the most important positive that the game has to offer and that is fun. Say Anything is not about the winning, it’s about the laughter and social dynamics created through the play. It’s about the pain of having your answer almost selected and dismissed at the last minute. It’s about the fun of lobbying and hearing the ridiculous justifications created by people to favour their answer and it’s about people coming together and enjoying the company of one another. These are the real achievements of Say Anything and when you consider that it can be shared by people aged 8-100, it is something that North Star should be proud of.

What's Not to Like? – The Cons

For me there is very little to dislike about Say Anything but the following people could have a problem with it -

d10-1 You are a trivia buff, always have to get things right and always have to be the smartest in the room. You may not like this game.

d10-2 You don’t like people and only play games to be with the games.

d10-3 You have forgotten what laughter is and think witt only rhymes with fit because you go into convulsions whenever someone cracks a joke. shake

d10-4 You think that anything that plays in less than 2 hours is fluff.

d10-5 You have had a frontal lobotomy.

Ok but are there any real concerns?

If I was to mention a potential issue with the game though I would have to say that the scoring can be open to a little gamesmanship. By that I mean that the Judge may deliberately not pick a particular answer because the leader has given the answer and it could give them a bigger lead or even the win. This is of course outside the ‘spirit’ of the game. It's minor given that they can still earn up to 2 points for placing their tokens on the correcly selected answer but it is possible and that could annoy one or more players. Other groups may of course find that hilarious. whistle

The other thing I'd say is that ideally you want to have the upper limit of players here as games like this shine with more minds around the table. I wouldn't want to play with less than 5 and if I had 3-4 I'd likely be looking at another title.

The Final Word

I think Say Anything Family Edition is a great design and is quite possibly the ‘ideal’ for a social gaming experience. It is clear that the designers and North Star as a company had a clear vision for the game and knew what they wanted it to be and it hits the mark on so many levels.

Now that may sound like high praise and you may even question my opinion given that North Star sent me a review copy, but the reality is that Party/Social games are known to not really be my thing. In fact I would state quite simply that I would not be considered the target market for the game at all. But is that really true? I think labeling Say Anything as a Party Game is not entirely accurate as the game is more about the social dynamic and that can take place in and out of a party setting. We simply label it as such because there is a category called 'Party' to do so.

As for me being a target for a game like this? Well I may not play ‘Party Games’ all that often but I do like the chance to be witty, to come up with answers outside the square. I do like making people laugh and laughing with and at the jokes of others. And I do like spending time with people. So heck I probably am the target market for Say Anything and when you consider those traits I’ve just mentioned, I’d think that Say Anything can be a game for most everyone. In short I think Say Anything targets what it is to be human and from that point of view it has to be appealing.

It makes total sense that Target USA signed a deal with North Star Games, a deal which I hope pays off for the North Star team because I’d like to see what other designs they manage to create in the years ahead.

You may or may not agree with me but hey…you can Say Anything.
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Luke Warren
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Re: Sat Anything Family Edition - A Detailed Review
Great review! Very thorough. I just wanted to point one thing out. You state,

"I would have to say that the scoring can be open to a little gamesmanship. By that I mean that the Judge may deliberately not pick a particular answer because the leader has given the answer or placed their token(s) on that answer..."

However, the judge cannot avoid picking the best answer based upon the tokens, since they judge must pick before the tokens are placed. Thus, they can only avoid giving 1 point to the leader by not picking their answer. So I guess you can call that gamesmanship, but it is minor. There is no way to stop a player from getting up to 2 points every round for betting.
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Dr. Dam
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Good point Luke edit made.
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