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Subject: MeepleTown Reviews: Say Anything rss

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Derek Thompson
United States
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After breaking into party games in 2005 with Wits & Wagers, designer/publisher Dominic Crapuchettes decided to apply the basic idea behind Wits & Wagers to party games like Apples to Apples and Loaded Questions. In Say Anything, players answer a prompt however they like and the reader picks a favorite answer, while the other players try to guess that pick. Published by North Star Games (co-founded by Mr. Crapuchettes) in 2008, Say Anything works with 3-8 players and takes 20-30 minutes. But is it a worthy entry to the already-crowded genre? Here’s a reminder of my scoring categories:

Components – Does the game look nice? Are the bits worth the money? Do they add to the game?
Accessibility – How easy is the game to teach, or to feel like you know what you are doing?
Depth – Does the gameplay allow for deeper strategies, or does the game play itself?
Theme – Does the game give a sense of immersion? Can you imagine the setting described in the game?
Fun – Is the game actually enjoyable? Do you find yourself smiling, laughing, or having some sense of satisfaction when it’s over?

Components: There’s not much inside Say Anything’s relatively small box – dry-erase boards, two wager chips and a pen for each player, along with the “Select-O-Matic 5000″ (used to pick the favorite guess), and a stack of questions. The components are simple and streamlined, the boards are plenty large enough, and there’s really nothing to complain about. $25 MSRP is more than fair for what you get. If I had to find a nitpick, it’d be nice to have some reusable wipes for the dry-erase boards (like Telestrations has) instead of having to waste paper towel. Other than that, the components are minimalistic but look nice, and I’d much rather have the low price than gaudy, unnecessary components – it’s a party game, after all.

Accessibility: I have a hard time believing anyone could have trouble with learning this game. Each turn, a player asks a question from a card. The other players write down an answer on their board and put it face-up in the center of the table. Repeat answers are sent back. Then the reader uses the “Select-O-Matic 5000″ to pick his or her favorite answer. After that, the other players use their two chips to bet on the right answer, either splitting or doubling up the bets. Then the answer is revealed, and the correct answer gets a point, and players get a point for each chip they placed on the answer. The reader also gets points equal to the total chips on the answer (up to a maximum of 3 points). If my written explanation didn’t make the game obvious, you’d still have no trouble with it in person. An advantage of playing Say Anything versus “hidden answer” games is that players can see the answers written out instead of having to remember what is said – many a game of Loaded Questions has been bogged down by “Can you repeat the answers, please?”. The only difficulty might be coming up with an answer on your own, as the game asks for a bit more creativity than, say, Apples to Apples. However, in a desperate situation you can still “throw off” by writing a weak answer and just going with it – and you can still earn points by voting on other answers. It’s especially simple if you’ve played Loaded Questions, The Game of Things…, Apples to Apples, or something similar, but even if you haven’t, the game is a cinch.

Depth: While you may not think a “party game” has much depth to discuss, I have to compare the game to The Game of Things… and Loaded Questions. In all three games, the “skill” in the game comes from guessing what your friends will do, and bluffing. In Say Anything, you are betting on which answer will appeal the most to the reader, while you attempt to appeal to them with what you write. In the other games, the answers are written secretly and someone (either the reader, or, well, everyone) tries to deduce who wrote what. I didn’t feel like Say Anything had as much room for clever play, for two reasons. First, because your answer is not secret, you can’t really do any bluffing tricks such as writing an answer as if someone else in the group wrote it. Secondly, because the reader gets the most points if he “matches” the audience and picks what’s assumed to be the correct answer by everyone else, he has no room for creativity or bluffing if he wants to win. Often the “best” answer for the person is a foregone conclusion and the reader’s best move is usually just to submit to that. Party games aren’t really played to win, but I feel like here the “fun” and “winning” parts of the games are at odds with each other, which is unfortunate.

Theme: My categories seem to only loosely fit for party games, but since the name of the game is Say Anything, here we’ll talk about the actual questions in the game and the answers they create. I feel like the questions in the game are extremely well-done, the kind of extreme questions that will often illicit humorous answers automatically. Some are invariably going to generate dirty conversation, in which case you can avoid those questions if that bothers you, or embrace it if you enjoy that kind of humor. Even then, some questions still generated interesting discussion and had readers second-guessing their thoughts on the question that they asked. The game has all the right pieces in place for hilarity and good conversation. However, upon playing the game more, I have found a bit of redundancy in the questions, but fortunately it was easy to cannibalize questions from the aforementioned similar games, and I also like to just randomly bust out the favorites that I can remember (“What’s the worst thing you’ve ever seen?”).

Fun: The absolute best thing about Say Anything compared to its competitors is that it plays quickly. Unsuccessful attempts at guess-who-said-what can really bog a game down and turn it from a laugh-fest to a chore. Say Anything does away with the whole concept but still leaves you with the chance to write some humorous comments. However, the simple fact that the answers are face-up means that players are a lot more hesitant to write the ridiculous/embarrassing things that make this such a great genre of party games. Many of my favorite memories of Loaded Questions come from answers I know wouldn’t have been written if the player had to admit up-front to writing it. Furthermore, because you want the reader to pick your answer, you’re further constrained to cater your answers to the reader, rather than being free to write whatever silly thing comes to mind. That doesn’t mean our games haven’t been fun – it still generates plenty of laughs among those with lower inhibitions. In addition, the quick, efficient system and shorter playtime means I’ll probably be playing Say Anything more in the future.

In fact, I wrote most of this review a while ago, and since then I have played Say Anything many times and have not played Loaded Questions at all. I’ve found that the ease of play is such an advantage that Say Anything is a more enjoyable game. And since I most commonly play with longtime friends, I generally have no qualms about the “shock value” of my answer. In fact, the outrageousness of my answers has sometimes led to me winning the game. The problem is just that Say Anything needs everyone involved to loosen up a bit more with the temporarily-hidden-identity aspect gone, but once you have, it’s even more fun than its predecessors.

If you’ve never played any “free answer” party games before, Say Anything is a good one, still offering a lot of laughs in a short amount of time. Specifically, if you find yourself irked by the amount of time spent guessing answers in other party games, Say Anything fixes that issue. But if you find the most hilarity comes when you find out that she wrote that!, you can stick with the games of yore – or better yet, loosen up and write that ridiculous answer anyway, and you’ll have an even greater time once you’re willing to Say Anything.

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