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I had been looking for a new, innovative party game I could bring out with a crowd that didn't care so much about winning, but just wanted to have fun. After hearing Tom Vasel's review of The Big Idea on the Dice Tower, I decided to get a copy of the Semi-Deluxe edition, along with the More Cards pack. After scanning the cards, I set 9 of them aside, knowing they could be considered slightly objectionable, or at least hard to relate to for me and my family members with a very conservative upbringing.
With two of my brothers and their wives visiting over the New Year's Day weekend, and with nothing else scheduled for New Year's Eve, I thought it was the perfect time to bring it out. It definitely helps to play this game when it's getting late and people are getting slightly giddy. After quickly explaining the rules, I knew this game was going to work when people starting laughing hysterically as soon as they scanned their first set of cards. Fortunately, we were all somewhat tired and ripe for laughs by 11:00 pm when we started playing.
I was impressed with the inventions we came up with - almost every one generated some laughter, except for a few which I think were mostly mine. Playing with 5 people, we played five rounds. I started the game off and tried to demonstrate a good sales pitch to the others for "Evil Bubbly Coffee", taking probably close to 2 minutes. For the rest of the game, the others followed suit, usually with better pitches than mine, but often taking a few minutes for each product. This made for some hilarious explanations of why a product was so great, but made the game last about 2 hours long - probably too long for any party game. Cameron, Lisa, Andrew, and Rebecca were all very adept at coming up with some original ideas, rarely using the sales pitch text printed on the cards themselves, and usually our sales pitches started with something like "Have you ever experienced (such and such) and wasn't it a pain? Well now, we have the perfect solution which is (insert name of invention)".
Some of the better products included "Airline Fruity Cardboard", a "Patriotic Puppy", the "Handy Frozen Plague", "Unsinkable Fishy Chowder", the "Luminous Car Candle", the "Enigmatic Celtic Cat", the "Hawaiian Typewriter", the "Inflatable Modular Cheese Toaster" and "Disposable Addictive Laundry". These might not sound that funny by themselves, but like with most inventions people come up with playing this game, it applies to say "you have to have been there". Oddly enough, one of the biggest laughs came when Rebecca didn't know what to do with her hand in one round, thought about discarding all of her cards, but then blurted out, "Anyone want a Flammable Cannon"?
When people placed their investment chips in the second phase where you have to pick a new product that's not your own, the funniest products did seem to garner the most chips. But as I suspected after reading the rules, where people placed their investment chips in the third phase wasn't so much about which were the best products as about where they could make the most money due to chips already sitting on products from previous rounds. Even so, I thought the investing part of the game had some meaning and correlation to the sales pitches. In our game it was hard to get die rolls high enough to get products to pay off - we soon had 12-15 products sitting on the table at one time. The die rolls in the payoff phase were all over the map and brought so much luck into the game that I think all of us agreed that the points were basically irrelevant. You certainly can't go away from this game feeling like you're the best player simply because you won. A gamer's game this is not, but everyone had a lot of fun anyway.
By the last round, we were very tired. We knew our brains were starting to wind down when Rebecca pitched her last product, going through an extensive description of what we'd need it for before giving us the product name. She talked about the pain of being a soldier in a battle, bullets zinging all around you, death just one heartbeat away, etc., etc., but then suggested this product as the ultimate solution: the "Gigantic Encrypted Vegetable". 'Nuff said.
Cameron ended up winning by a few points, but we all got what we wanted out of the experience: a good workout for our abdomens, or wherever our laughing muscles may be.