Thursday, May 7, 2009

Party games that don't suck....

So I often get people saying, "I LOVE games! Let me know when you play cuz I'll bring over Cranium..." AArrgghhh! Although I own a copy of Turbo Cranium (it was an expensive gift that I am too polite to get rid of), I think the game is shit. It is a mish-mash of other boring games like Pictionary, Charades, and Trivial Pursuit all dolled up to look like new. It's unoriginal and favours certain players over others due to their specific skill sets. I remember the one game I played with a dyslexic friend who kept drawing the activity where you have to spell words backwards. Totally unfair and embarassing for him. And just not fun.

In general, I find most party games suffer from these same issues. Make sure you play Trivial Pursuit on a team with someone who knows a lot about sports and play Pictionary with someone who can draw really well. I don't find this fun. I think everyone should be on the same footing independent of their experiences. Luckily, there are some great "party" games out now which deal with these issues or even bring people's life experiences and personalities into the game. I've even played a few of them....

Apples to Apples is tons of fun and stupidly easy to learn. Each player has a hand of cards with various names of people, places, things, and events. An adjective is flipped over by the judge for that round and everyone picks what they think will match from their hand. The choices are mixed up and then the judge reveals them one by one. The judge picks their favourite and the person who played it gets the point. The fun of the game is trying to sell the judge on your card and dissuade him from the others without revealing your pick. Great game and I've enjoyed this with every group I've played it with.

Wits & Wagers just came out a few years ago and has been a big hit. Haven't played it yet but I have heard it's a blast and am planning to pick up a copy (despite the fugly artwork). It's a trivia game but all the answers are numerical. People bet and then place their answers in order on a betting mat. Once the answers are done players can bet on the answers that they think are the closest without going over (shades of Price is Right?) So a player can possibly be totally wrong with every answer they provide and yet still win by betting shrewdly on the numbers that seem the safest or are closer than theirs. Very clever and very inclusive to everyone's different levels of knowledge. Love it.

Say Anything comes from the same people as Wits and Wagers and sounds like fun. Descriptions online make it sound a bit like Apples to Apples except you write your own answers down. Then you get to vote on which answer you think will be picked kinda like Wits & Wagers. Sounds interesting and great in a group of people just getting to know each other.


If you like Bingo, but wish it had some strategy, you should get a hold of Take It Easy, which has been out for over a decade. My copy has seen many, many plays in the last 10 years and still comes out occasionally. Basically everyone plays the exact same set of tiles in the exact same order, trying to make as many lines across the board as possible. Despite playing everything the same the variety of scores is always huge. Lots of fun, very tense, and plays with up to 8 people.

Last one I'll mention is a new game out of France called Dixit that is just starting to make waves. Every player takes turns as the storyteller who is given a single picture to describe in either a word or a sentence. After this, every player chooses a picture from their hand and all of them are mixed up and then laid out. Players vote on which picture they think is the storytellers. Here's the thing: if everyone guesses the storyteller's card then he gets no points. If at least one picks it but not all, then the storyteller gets the points. What makes this even more interesting is the beautifully elusive artwork. Totally up to interpretation which adds so much. Can't wait to play this one.
Check out the beautiful artwork for Dixit here.

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