Board game reviews


OUR SCORE: 17/20 (85%)

Each player gets a Top 20 chart. You move up or down the chart, Snakes & Ladders style, based on the music trivia questions you answer. Each player spins, and the mechanism points to different categories at different point values, so you can avoid categories you’re weak in. This system is unique in the world of trivia games, and as such makes for a very different, very enjoyable game experience.

The spinner is on a box that in turn is very hard to put away after the game is played. Also, sometimes the arrow points closely to the line, which can produce problems if you are playing a heated game. In addition, the markers you use to indicate your progress up and down the charts are too big. These are minor points, however.

To the game’s credit, it avoids too many questions along the lines of, “What group had a No. 1 in 1967 with this song” type questions. And there are plenty of questions. The cards literally bulge out of the box. You could play this game for months and never hear the same question twice. There was a nice balance of hard and easy, and a lot of fun factoids. Four of the five categories are decade-based, so a younger player can avoid the 1960s, while an older player can avoid the 1990s. A fifth category, based on completing lyrics, is ideal for players who listen to the radio, but aren’t music geeks.

We had a ball. It took about half an hour for four people, which is just the right length. The game is designed to produce a lot of swings in the beginning, then to slow you down as you near the top, making it more competitive. If you love music trivia, you’ll have a great time with this game.

It’s Only Words: Where did the newlyweds sleep on their honeymoon night in the Freda Payne sopng “Band of Gold”?
The 90s+: Who played the singing bartender Miguel Morez in the soap opera “General Hospital” in 1994?
The 80s: Who is Patricia Andrejewski better known as?
The 70s: Who played Dorothy in the all-black movie version of “The Wizard of Oz,” “The Wiz”?
The 60s: In what 50s TV show did Monkee Mickey Dolenz play the lead role?

It’s Only Words: separate rooms; The 90s+: Ricky Martin; The 80s: Pat Benatar; The 70s: Diana Ross; The 60s: “Circus Boy”



OUR SCORE 17/20 (85%)

You circle the board, drawing a card each round, collecting chips for answering the question(s) on it correctly. Generally, depending on the square you land on, you’ll be answering an academic question, a pop culture question or a “spot the lie” question. Sometimes, you have to answer three questions in a row, with an option to risk the chip you’ve just won for a shot at a free turn, if you can answer a fourth question.

This game looks beautiful. Everything about it shouts “fun.” A small glitch is that the colours used for the playing pieces can be hard to tell apart, particularly the blue and green.

There are a pile of questions here. In fact, there are so many, that we put half of them back in the box. The emphasis is solidly on fun factoids, even in the academic questions. We had a great time, particularly when it came to working out which of two plausibly bizarre facts was in fact made up. We had a small beef, in that some of the questions were too long, especially when read aloud. Also, if you grew up playing Trivial Pursuit in the 1980s, you’ll love this much more than you will if you were still in diapers then.

We played it twice, so that tells you something right there. Although you only need six tokens to win, it can take a while to accumulate, and the game has a “challenge” feature that allows people to steal tokens from you, which is a nice way of evening people out. The rules are easy, but a little too skimpy. For example, you can play a card to get a second guess at a question, but seemingly can do so, even when you only have two possible answers. Also, given that people can play this card, the reader has to answer “Not correct” rather than “No, the answer is Bob Newhart.” This takes some getting used to.


Right Brain: Mount Crumpit was the peak overlooking what mythical Seussian town?
Left Brain: A triangle can have a maximum of how many right angles?
Spot The Big Fat Lie:
A) In the early 1900s, the Bronx Zoo used to keep a Pygmy on display in the primate house, locked up with an orang-utan.
B) In 1963, food became so scarce in parts of China that the government ordered all state aquariums turned into public fish markets. The practice only lasted a year, by which time most of the aquariums were depleted anyway.

R: Whoville; L: One; Lie: B



OUR SCORE 15/20 (75%)


You are presented with a list of four items. You have to decide which of them is not like the others and then say why. If you are stumped, you can pass the question off on somebody else, but somebody else can also steal the question from you if you are not quick enough


A fairly basic presentation (no crime), and rather overpackaged, as is typical for games of this nature. But it gets a bonus point for having little plastic brains as playing pieces.


There is a lot of content here. But a problem that emerged was that there is often more than one answer to a question. For example, of the French and Indian War, the American Revolution, the War of 1812 and the Spanish-American War, the odd one out, officially, was the War of 1812, as the others were ended by treaties signed in Paris. But we came up with equally viable alternatives for two of the others: the French and Indian War did not technically involve the United States, while the Spanish-American War did not have any battles in Canada. Likewise, a question involving Mick Taylor, Brian Jones, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts did have Charlie Watts out, not because he is the only still in the band, as I said, but because the other three are guitarists, which is only true in the technical sense that a guitar is also a bass. Also, it is sometimes hard to correctly anticipate how specific the answer should be, and whether a reply is in fact too specific.


We did enjoy playing. However, the ability to steal questions simply by shouting "steal" dramatically changing the game experience, since it is much easier, cognitively, to shout "steal" than it is to spit out an answer. What this means, in a practical sense, is that on your turn you will only field hard ones and the only way to advance is to shout "steal" quicker than everybody else on the easier questions. I think, over time, we would have stopped playing a sedate, turn-by-turn game and started playing a wilder yell-and-steal game, which is clearly what the makers intend. Still fun, just rather different from your typical trivia game experience, since you're "in the game" on every question


Nina, Pinta, Santiago, Santa Maria. A: Santiago, the other three are Christopher Columbus's ships.



OUR SCORE: 11/20 (55%)


Real-life experts were asked questions related somewhat to their field of expertise. An NFL player, for example, is asked about football movies. If you get as many right as the expert did, you advance. If not, you are penalized and have to either fill in items on a list, or answer a multiple choice question about the experts themselves. There are two huge minuses, however. Half the experts are actually dead people, who presumedly were not actually asked the question. And, worse, the multiple choice questions are straight-up guesses, unless you happen to, say, know trivia about the guy who wrote the "Best-Case Scenario" books.


No beefs here. It's a nicely designed game. The only knock on it is that it is an awful lot of packaging for very little product.


The questions are fairly perfunctory and there are a reasonable number of them. We had some trouble with the list questions, in that the terms were vague. When asked to guess the original five characters on MASH, for example, Radar O'Reilly was considered wrong.


It's a great idea for a game, ruined in my mind by some goofy mechanics. The game is also far too short.

TO ORDER: Note that this game is almost impossible to get outside of the United States


OUR SCORE: 11/20 (55%)


You name the year in which an event occurs. Essentially, you need 1 right question in each of 12 categories. The category you answer in is based on your dice rolls: you can roll up to four times. This is a clever mechanism. You also roll a dice that tells you how much leeway you have in identifying the year: bang on, off by a year or off by two. If you miss, somebody else can play for that category.


Aside from the overpackaging, there are two significant flaws. First, you keep track with iddy biddy paper markers that are prone to getting knocked around. Second, it is very hard to track which question cards you've used, since there are questions on both sides.


The box makes it clear that the questions skew to baby boomers: their history, their sports heroes, their formative pop culture. This liability is balanced by the cleverness of some of the questions, although a few of them are hard to read.


We had fun. It wasn't exhilarating or anything, but it was a good night out. This being said, our group included two history majors and two other history buffs. Most people will find the game too hard. We'd suggest doubling the leeway by which you can miss a question.

TO ORDER: Not online ordering, but a good start


OUR SCORE 8/20 (40%)

Damned if we know how it works. Player moves up or down a row of money values until they exceed the amount Ken Jennings won on the show. Except that Ken “plays” as a cardboard figure in the middle. Except that his row interweaves with a pathway along which each of you takes turns moving a piece along. And somebody does this for Ken. And you spin to see what the question is worth, and who challenges who. Get it? Neither did we, really.

The box itself is amateur looking, and the dots in the middle that tell you what question to ask are all dark hues, which are hard to tell apart. The design of the game also contributed to the confusion we experienced trying to play it.

The questions themselves are actually quite good. Each card contains four of them, one of which is true/false, another of which is multiple choice. As trivia geeks, we found it frustrating when a tricky question we knew ended up being a multiple-choice question, since it denied us a chance to get the jump on other players, but it does help even out the game. It also helps even you out with Ken, who was asked all the questions and “plays” along with you. It is fun to see what he got wrong and how he guessed. However, there are very few questions in this game. You’ll hit repeats very quickly.

It was extremely frustrating to keep track of what we were supposed to do during each question. This is a game that requires you to spend some serious time ahead of time learning the rules, which intersect in strange ways. It is not an out-of-the-box experience by any means. However, the questions themselves were fun, and it is fun to get questions Ken missed.

Red: Marlon Brando’s famous lament: “You don’t understand! I could’ve had ___. I could’ve been a contender.”
Blue: True or false. The jackal, like humans, has a nine-month gestation period.
Orange: What Australian spider has a red dot on its back: a) ruby tarantula b) redback spider c) black recluse
Green: Who asked the musical question: “Is she really going out with him?” in 1979?

Red: class (Ken said “everything”); Blue: false (Ken said “true”); Orange: B (Ken said c); Green: Joe Jackson (Ken said “Christopher Cross”); by coincidence, Ken missed all four. He doesn’t miss many.

TO ORDER: Note that this game is almost impossible to get outside of the United States

December 2005