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Subject: A Party Game For (Almost) Everyone rss

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Stoic Bird
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Background

I've only played once so far, but this game is straightforward enough that I feel comfortable presenting my review. I'm not particularly familiar with the previous Wits & Wagers games; my only experience was one play of the demo of the Xbox Live Arcade version, which I remember enjoying, but not much else about it. I did win my copy in a contest held by the designer/publisher, if that matters to you.

Overview

As the title and box clearly state, this is a party game. A trivia game where you can win without having a single correct answer - interesting idea.

Components

This is my first experience with NorthStar Games, and I wasn't disappointed. The box is sturdy and about the right size for the components, with a nicely functional insert. It is slightly smaller than most of the square games I have, which the environmentalist in me likes (fewer materials used), but it does make it a bit harder to store in my collection. The bits themselves are of good quality.

My only complaint about the components is likely personal. The reason I'd avoided the older Wits & Wagers is that I'm allergic to dry erase markers, and the ones included in this game did bother me somewhat. It helped some that there are built-in erasers on the pen caps (as my skin is the most sensitive), and I suspect I'd do better in a team game so that someone else can do the writing.

Gameplay

I think this is the easiest game to explain I've ever played that I've also enjoyed. I didn't give any background when teaching this the first time (we just started playing), and all the players (two of whom didn't make it through the rules explanation for Carcassonne) picked it up immediately. I brought this to a family gathering, and my mother-in-law was initially reluctant to play because she assumed from the title it was a game that would have to be played for money. I'm sure it could work that way, but it's not the type of game that suffers if there's no real-world value on the chips.

Each round starts with a question with a numerical answer (sample from our game: how many bathrooms are there in the White House?). Each player (or team - the designer recommends playing in teams of 2 or 3) writes down their guess. All the guesses are revealed, and then players bet on the answer they think is closest to correct without going over. (1 is always available, in case you think everyone guessed high.) The correct answer is revealed, and each bet on the correct number gets 1 poker chip (the player who wrote the answer also gets a chip). In the last round, you can also gamble your poker chips to potentially get a higher payout. Whoever has the most chips after 7 rounds wins.

Gameplay was very, very smooth and fast. Despite the simple rules, there was an ambiguity about whether bets should be placed in order or if all teams can place/move bets simultaneously; reading between the lines, I'm pretty sure it's the latter, and that interpretation sped things up even more, so we'll probably stick with it even if Dom corrects me now

Opinions

Trivia games usually bug me, but this one was different for a few reasons. The primary reason is also the games' main draw - you don't have to actually know the answers in order to do well. Unless the game is played very regularly, it also seems unlikely that memorizing the answers would be a problem, since being off by one number can make a huge difference (I lost the game because I knew what year the Beatles were on Sullivan and what year Lennon was born, but it must've been before his birthday that year and I was one year high on his age...) It's also simple enough and short enough that I suspect people will actually want to play by the printed rules. Often with, say, Trivial Pursuit, people will just end up taking turns reading questions, and I've noticed people get fed up with that activity at significantly different rates, so it can get awkward without the defined end point.

My favorite party games are Loaded Questions and Taboo, because they both promote socialization and creativity. Wits & Wagers Party has the socialization part down, but the nature of the game means there's much less room for creativity. This is not all bad; I got rid of Beyond Balderdash after too many sessions where one person wasn't good at mimicing the writing style of the game, and it was awkwardly apparent each time which answer was theirs. Still, I don't see this one generating the kind of amusing stories we'll tell years later like the other two games I mentioned, which knocks off a point in my book.

On the other hand, perhaps the biggest pro is that this game can be played and enjoyed very well by a mixed age group. Most party games marketed explicitly to children make me want to jump off a building, and if my childhood memories are accurate, I felt similarly playing party games that were geared toward adults when I was younger. This is perhaps the only one I've played that I could see ranging well from single-digit ages to retirees. The designer had mentioned to me that the questions were designed to be accessible by 3 generations, and we had a pretty good mix in my session.

Conclusions

Easily the best trivia party game I've ever played, and while no game is for absolutely everyone, this is probably the one with the broadest appeal. I'd rate it a solid 8/10. I don't think it's going to replace Loaded Questions and Taboo as my go-to games for parties with my friends, but as I've got children now, I suspect this will see a lot more table time than those games for at least the next few years.

You'll probably like this more than I did if:
-You're not allergic to dry erase markers.
-You like structure in your party games. This would be difficult to improvise, and is easy enough to pick up that I don't think other players would want to.
-You're not biased toward more creative games. If you're the type of person who prefers the red and yellow decks in Cranium, pick this up immediately.

You'll probably like this less than I did if:
-Your party game audience is all close friends who are relatively the same age. I suspect this game would've tanked with my friends in college, because we all knew each other from theater and gravitated toward the games that allowed our personalities to shine a bit more.
-You've got a hard opposition to gambling. Besides the gameplay, the visual style is a cartoony Vegas (including Elvis).
-You're ultra-competitive, even in party games. I could see some of my friends refusing to place their bets until everyone else has, and if two such players were close in the last round, I could see them both grinding the game to a screeching halt, since nothing in the rules prescribes one to go before the other. (My solution is to not bring this anywhere near those particular friends.)
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Bill Gallagher
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VolcanoLotus wrote:
You'll probably like this less than I did if:
-You've got a hard opposition to gambling. Besides the gameplay, the visual style is a cartoony Vegas (including Elvis).
-You're ultra-competitive, even in party games. I could see some of my friends refusing to place their bets until everyone else has, and if two such players were close in the last round, I could see them both grinding the game to a screeching halt, since nothing in the rules prescribes one to go before the other. (My solution is to not bring this anywhere near those particular friends.)

There's essentially no gambling in this version. If you want gambling, play the original Wits & Wagers. Doesn't this come with a 30 second egg timer?

I agree that the AP-prone ultra-competitors shouldn't be playing party games.
 
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Stoic Bird
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Yuglooc wrote:
VolcanoLotus wrote:
You'll probably like this less than I did if:
-You've got a hard opposition to gambling. Besides the gameplay, the visual style is a cartoony Vegas (including Elvis).
-You're ultra-competitive, even in party games. I could see some of my friends refusing to place their bets until everyone else has, and if two such players were close in the last round, I could see them both grinding the game to a screeching halt, since nothing in the rules prescribes one to go before the other. (My solution is to not bring this anywhere near those particular friends.)

There's essentially no gambling in this version. If you want gambling, play the original Wits & Wagers.


I'll take your word for it that the original one is more so, but this version had enough in it that I know people who would be put off by it. (Not many, and you'd have to REALLY think gambling is immoral, but even so.) Fortunately, the "Wagers" in the title is a good enough indicator, so those folks probably already know to stay away.

After getting some positive feedback about the format of my conclusion in my last review, I decided to incorporate the "you'd like this more/less than I did" sections into all my reviews. The less section was tough for me on this one, as I honestly see this game appealing to most people. I can definitely see people preferring other party games over it, but I can't think of many people I know personally who would out and out dislike this. Even using the word "tanked" with my friends in college was probably overstating it; I suspect we would've played it once, everyone would've said, "yeah, that was fun," and we would've gone back to our staples.

Yuglooc wrote:
Doesn't this come with a 30 second egg timer?


No. I would think it would only be a problem if people are really serious about calculating out different outcomes based on who wins what, etc., though. In my session, I don't think the betting portion ever took more than 10 seconds, and my father-in-law does tend to take his time on turns.
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that Matt
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I'm a quitter. I come from a long line of quitters. It's amazing I'm here at all.
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VolcanoLotus wrote:
Most party games marketed explicitly to children make me want to jump off a building, and vice versa (if my childhood memories are accurate).

I'm a little confused on the referents of the 'vice versa' in this sentence...

- Children's games marketed to parties make you want to jump off a building?
- Party games marketed to you make children want to jump off buildings?
- Party games marketed to children make buildings want to jump off you?
- Party games marketed to buildings make you want to jump on children?!
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Stoic Bird
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I meant that as a child I hated playing games that were geared more toward adults. That was poorly written; I've rephrased.
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Chet C.
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VolcanoLotus wrote:
Background

You'll probably like this less than I did if:
(...)
-You're ultra-competitive, even in party games. I could see some of my friends refusing to place their bets until everyone else has, and if two such players were close in the last round, I could see them both grinding the game to a screeching halt, since nothing in the rules prescribes one to go before the other. (My solution is to not bring this anywhere near those particular friends.)


Solution: Last person to bet doesn't get to bet. Now there's incentive to not be too slow.
 
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