All Aboard July 2013

Another month marked another All Aboard, and my girlfriend was finally able to join after skipping the last two. Last month, I didn’t get to try any new games, so I made it a point to pick up something new for our first game, and something big and red caught my eye:

bezzerwizzer - box

Bezzerwizzer is a trivia game that, unlike most trivia games, allows players to employ some strategy. The game can be played between two to eight players, but essentially is played between two to four players (any player counts exceeding four would have to team or partner up amongst themselves).

bezzerwizzer - boardThe Bezzerwizzer board.

Each player/team gets a player token, which are all placed at the starting mark of a square board. Instead of tallying points and scores, the players must move their tokens along the board. Once they are able to do a full lap and get back to start, they win. To move their markers, players have to earn points by answering trivia questions, and a player moves their markers a number of squares equal to the points that they earned.

bezzerwizzer - category tilesThese tiles represent the twenty categories in the game. Can you guess what each tile is for?

Each round, players draw four tiles in a bag which represent the categories of the trivia questions that they’ll be answering. There’s a total of twenty categories, so there are enough categories available for a four player/team game. Once everyone has their four categories, they place the tiles on spaces on their player board, with each space showing the number of squares that they can move if they answer their question correctly.

bezzerwizzer - player boardEach player/team gets one of these boards. This example shows Literature for 1 point, Humans for 2 points, Science for 3 points, and Film for 4 points.

Once all the players have done this, players take turns drawing question cards. Each question card has twenty questions, with one question pertaining to a category. Another player reads the question of the current category, starting with the lowest scoring category, to the current player. If the player is able to give the right answer, they move their token accordingly. I’m not sure if it’s in the rules, but once we’re done with a category, we place the tile back in the bag. This is the first point of the game where strategy applies, because it’s better to put the categories on the squares where you’ll earn more points, so the mechanic allows you to have more control over how well you do in the game. Once everyone has answered their four questions, the round is over and players start drawing category tiles again.

The game offers two other mechanics in the form of the Bezzerwizzer (B) and the Zwap (Z) tiles. Each player can play up to two Bezzerwizzer tiles and/or one Zwap tile per round, which can be played before a question is asked.

bezzerwizzer - other tilesEach player/team gets a set of color-coordinated Zwap and Bezzerwizzer tiles.

The Zwap tile allows a player to swap one of his/her categories with a category, allowing a player to either get rid of a category that they don’t know enough of, or to take away a category from a player who seems to know that category very well. The Bezzerwizzer tiles, meanwhile, allow a player to “steal” a question if they are unable to answer it. So if one of the players is about to answer a Science question, you can play your Bezzerwizzer tile, hope they don’t know the right answer, then get the opportunity to answer the question yourself. If you get it right, then you get to advance your token three squares.

I like how the mechanics put in some strategy in a trivia game, but at the end of the day it’s still a trivia game. People who don’t enjoy answering trivia questions will not enjoy this game, and despite the addition of strategic elements, if there’s one player in the group that’s really knows a lot of unnecessary facts, that player will dominate.

Before we finished our game of Bezzerwizzer, one of the organizers approached us and asked if a group of students could join our table and play some games with us. Since it was just me and my girlfriend, we obliged. These students weren’t really into gaming and were just doing this as part of a school activity, so I knew that by default, I would be facilitating. So we stopped playing Bezzerwizzer and I grabbed one game that I knew would be appreciated by the non-gaming crowd: Toc Toc Woodman.

toc toc woodman - box

We played several rounds of the famed dexterity game and I’m glad to say that the group was engaged throughout. It got to the point that the only guy who joined actually yelled in celebration when several core pieces fell off after I hit the tree (I was the one in the lead at that point). I thought it was a good game for this group to show them that some games can actually be light and yet still very fun to play with. After a few rounds of this, I went to another game that seemed popular with non-gamers: Ca$h ‘n Gun$.

cash and guns box

We stuck with the basic version of the game as I haven’t had the chance to read up on advanced versions, and played two rounds. The students remained engaged, and I was glad that my choices were working well for the group.

For our next game, the organizer suggested that we try Timeline: Diversity. The organizer gave me instructions on how to play the game, so I based our game from his instructions. I didn’t get the chance to read the rules of the game until now so we may have made a minor mistake.

timeline diversity - box

Timeline is a card game where the cards have different pictures of significant events and concepts in human history. One side of the card has the year when the event/discovery/invention happened, and one side doesn’t. Players draw a certain number of cards depending on the number playing, and lay them on the table so as not to reveal the cards. If there are just two or three players, each player draws 6 cards. In four or five player game, each player gets 5 cards, and in a six to eight player game each player gets 4 cards.

timeline - cards

The players try to fit their cards into an accurate timeline.

Once all the players have their cards, one card is played in the middle of the table with the year side facing up – this starts the timeline and serves as the reference point for the first player to take his/her turn. A player would choose one of his/her cards and place it on the timeline, with the earliest card at the left going to the right. The player then flips the card and reveals the year – if the player gets it right, the card stays on the timeline. If he/she got it wrong, the card is discarded and he/she takes another card. The player’s turn then ends. The player who runs out of cards first wins the game.

timeline - more cardsWas the Diving Suit invented before or after the Rubber Band? You have to guess right to win.

We played one round, and… Remember when I mentioned that we got something wrong? Well, there were 6 players in the group and we each drew 6 cards instead of just 4 as indicated by the rules. That didn’t mess up our game, but it made the game longer than it should have taken and it took us all of the cards (we ran out at the very last turn) before someone won. The students seemed to like the game at first but because it took longer, they started to get a little bored with the game.

The last game that we played was a suggestion of a friend, the same friend who got me to attend All Aboard, and that’s Cards Against Humanity. Let me start my description of that game by saying UGH.

cards against humanity - boxCards Against Humanity – “A party game for horrible people”.

Cards Against Humanity is a party game that’s very similar to Dixit. At the start of the game, everybody draws a 10 white cards. For each round, one player is assigned to be the story teller, or the “Card Czar“. This player draws a black card and reads it out loud to the rest of the group. Basically, these black cards contain phrases or statements with blanks.

cards against humanity - black card sample

After the black card has been read, the rest of the players have to look at their hand of 10 white cards and choose one that would make the funniest statement. They give the cards to the “card czar” anonymously (there are various ways to do this, like shuffling the submitted white cards before the card czar reads them), who then chooses which white card he/she likes best. The player who submitted that card gets the black card to represent getting an awesome point. The game continues on for as long as the group wants to play. Surprisingly, this can lead to the creation of lines that are actually funny, like:

cards against humanity - sample game

But remember, this is a game for horrible people. It actually says “17+” on the side of the box. There are a lot, and I mean a lot, of offensive cards thrown in the game, such as:

cards against humanity - inappropriate

Or worse. Anyway, I’m not against this game, I think this can actually be fun if played with the right group of people. But my “friend” had me play this with a bunch of college students who may not even be old enough to play this game. I actually like the game, I think it’s a good way to find out what makes your friends laugh. But it was simply the wrong game to play at the wrong time, with the wrong people.

So that was our last game, and I bid the students farewell as I was getting mentally exhausted from all the facilitating. I usually hang out at the area from the start to the end of the event, but for the last three months I’ve been leaving earlier than usual, and it’s the same case here. Still, I got to play three games for the first time, and had the opportunity to hone my facilitation skills as well. As always, I’m ending this post with the list of games that I’ve tried at this event:

  1. Shadows Over Camelot
  2. Dixit
  3. Last Night On Earth
  4. Jab
  5. 7 Wonders
  6. Pandemic
  7. Monopoly Deal
  8. Cutthroat Caverns
  9. Conquest of Planet Earth
  10. Defenders of the Realm
  11. Flash Point: Fire Rescue
  12. Smash Up!
  13. Incan Gold
  14. Ultimate Werewolf
  15. King of Tokyo
  16. Puerto Rico
  17. Toc Toc Woodman
  18. Ca$h ‘n Gun$
  19. Pressure Point!
  20. Forbidden Island
  21. Guillotine
  22. Shadow Hunters
  23. Mice and Mystics
  24. Bezzerwizzer
  25. Timeline: Diversities
  26. Cards Against Humanity
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