Wednesday, November 11, 2009

1.22: Party games...hooray?

It's that time of year--Halloween is over, and three days before it all the stores put out their Christmas stock.  Yes, the holidays approach!  A time for friends and family, large gatherings, and, of course, an excellent time for gaming.  Large gatherings require a special class of game--the Party game!  *sigh*

Party games--they're games you play at parties, right?  Charades, Pictionary, Cranium, uh, Trivial Pursuit, Win Lose or Draw (do they still make this game?).  Party games are designed to be played with large groups of people or teams of people.  We're talking more than a standard boardgame which supports between 2-6, more on the order of 10-30 or more.  The rules are really easy, they're generally on pop culture or common knowledge items (especially if they're trivia games), and for play time...well, ideally it'd be an hour or less, but for better or worse that may not be the case.

I'm not a big fan of Party games.  Of those listed above, I'd probably play Pictionary and Cranium (though I'll never do any of the singing/acting cards), and I'd murder everyone in the room before I played Charades.  That said, I should probably point out some party games that I actually enjoy, and hopefully you will too.  As with Halloween, I imagine I'll post more than one of these.

First up, Scene It?  Scene It? requires a DVD player; during a team's turn, they roll two dice--one is the distance moved along the track, the other determines which type of question the team answers.  There is the standard "question on a card," but they also use the DVD player to great effect.  There are several different types of questions on the DVD, many involve playing a movie clip and asking a question afterward, but there are also screen shots with missing items, Wheel of Fortune type title puzzles, scrambled images and more.  There are also several types of Scene It?, from Friends, Marvel Comics, movies, television, Disney, blah, blah; basically, you should't have a problem finding something that interests you.  This game is available at most large retailers, and can range from $10 (travel edition) to $40 (licensed content).

Wits and Wagers was released in 2005 by North Star games, a smallish company, but has had great success, and has been picked up by a large retailer (Target, I believe).  In this game one player asks a question that has a numerical answer, such as "How old did Mozart live to be?"  All the other players have a small dry-erase board, and write their answer.   When everyone has written an answer, the dry-erase boards are arranged in numerical order and placed on a mat which depicts betting values.  The middle value guess is placed on the center space (which pays out 2:1), and the remaining guesses are placed outward from the center (3:1, 4:1, 5:1).  Players then may place up to two bets; whoever places chips on the answer that is the closest gets their payout, plus the player with the closest guess also gets a payout.  This game is quick, fun, and best of all it's a trivia game where you don't have to know the correct answer--you can win by guessing the closest answer, or by making judicious bets--you may not know how wide a football field is, but if you place your bet on the answer of a football fan, you'll probably get a payout.  As stated before, this is available at a large retailer (Target, I believe), and goes for around $30-$40.

Lastly, let's do something different.  At home we've had some great success with Ca$h 'n Gun$.  CnG (I'm too lazy to spell that correctly again) supports up to 6 people, though you can expand this by an additional 6 by purchasing additional copies of the game, or you can buy the expansion that adds 3 players...but we'll get back to that.  In CnG you are a member of a gang that has pulled a heist, and it's time to divide up your spoils--however, you can't all decide on how to split it...and so the guns have come out.  The game lasts 9 rounds, each round five of the money tiles are turned over--the goal is to have the most money and be alive at the end of the game.  Each player has a deck of nine "bullet" cards, and chooses one of these cards and places it face-down in front of them.  There are three different bullet cards--Click Click cards do nothing, they're basically a bluff; Bang! cards do one damage and knock a player out for the round; Bang! Bang! Bang! cards have priority over Bang! cards, do one damage, and knock a player out for the round.  A card is discarded after its use, so you'rea free to use all your non-bluff cards early, but if someone is keeping track, you could be in a world of trouble.

The best part of the round, after everyone has chosen their bullet card, you pick up your foam gun, and on the count of three everyone simultaneously points and whoever they want to threaten (read as "shoot").  You know what's in your gun, but you have no idea what your opponets are doing--and the battle of wits has begun.  There will be another count of three, and every player has a choice here--either stay in and risk being shot (if anyone is pointing a gun at you), or drop out (usually if you suspect someone has a non-bluff card in their gun, or if several people are pointing at you).  If a player drops out, they get a "shame token" (worth -$5000 at the end of the game), but can't be hurt this round, but can't collect a share of the pot.  The remaining people reveal their bullet cards, and anyone with a non-bluff card does a damage to whoever they're pointing at, and knocks that player out for the round (that player can't collect a share of the loot).  Anyone left standing gets a share of the loot--if all or a portion of the pot can be divided without making change.  Any money left in the pot carries to the next round.

The last thing to consider, if a player takes a total of three wounds, they are dead--they don't participate in the rest of the game, and can't win, even if they had the most money.  It's commonplace for a person to collect a large pot early in the game, and the next round be faced with 4-5 gun barrels the next round, or receive a steady stream of barrels for the entire game, making survival difficult.

The base game also includes "Special Power" cards, which change how each player plays--you may be "The Kid," who is able to see where everyone else points before you decide; or you may take the gun of the first killed player, using two guns for the rest of the game; or you could just be friggin nuts and carry a grenade with you, waiting for someone to shoot you so you can pull the pin...  As for the expansion, titled The Yakuza, it adds three more players, all from a Japanese gang carrying throwing stars and swords, and turns CnG into a team-based game, with groups of 2-3 players attempting to get the most loot for their gang. 


That's it for this week, hopefully everyone will be enjoying their holidays, getting together with family and friends, and crushing them under your feet.  In boardgames; I'm not advocating violence, though I may partake in the literal crushing of family members over the holidays anyway.

Staying busy here, NaNo is kicking my butt and I've had to switch my novel, meaning I had to start over; 50k is in sight, but it's way, way over there.  Family obligations and all that have priority, as always, so finding time to write is difficult.  Oh, there's one other thing I should probably mention...

Happy Anniversary, Jackie!  Three great years and counting!

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