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Review in a Nutshell:
The Invention Game is a party game with simple bluffing/voting mechanics that will be familiar to anyone who has played Balderdash or Wise and Otherwise. Players are all shown a picture of a real invention (taken from the US Patent database) and are asked to guess its purpose. Players then vote on all of the guesses, and points are awarded for guessing correctly or for successfully bluffing your opponents.
The result is a humorous game that anyone can jump right in and play. It's a great choice for party situations with gamers of varying ability.
The Invention Game is a party game for 3 or more players, but best results will be had with a bigger group of 6-8. A game should last 30-45 minutes, depending on the number of people playing. The game mechanics are virtually identical to Balderdash:
1) a "reader" produces a card with a picture of an invention
2) all other players guess what the invention is for, and write it down
3) the reader reads all guesses, along with the correct answer, in random order
4) all other players vote for one of the guesses
5) the reader assigns one point to each player who voted for the correct answer, and one point to players for each vote their guesses received; the reader receives two points if no one guessed the correct answer
(play continues for seven rounds, with rotating readers)
The game equipment is minimal, consisting only of a stack of invention cards, notepads, and scoring sheets. The stack of cards is about 2 in. deep (two sided), so there's quite a bit of replay value before all the cards have been used. The cards are about 5 in. on a side, and the diagrams are of high quality (they are taken directly from the US patent database, after all). Since there is no board, this game is quite compact and could be easily taken when travelling.
The inventions themselves are the high point. Automobile wheel-mounted washing machines, leaf-catching pants, invisibility machines... there's plenty of great material to keep people laughing while they play.
While the "inventions" theme is very entertaining, in my experience it unfortunately skews the game in favor of more mechanically-minded people. With my engineering background and experience reading technical diagrams, I was quite successful in both deducing the correct function of many inventions and in bluffing my opponents with plausible guesses; I'm afraid I have dominated past games rather badly, and may be forced to play with a significant handicap from now on.
That point aside, this is a fun, short, simple game that works great with a big group of people. My score: