Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Smarty Party

There hasn't been much gaming-related content on the blog lately... what with me writing the "War & Peace"-like series on my history in ministry. Figure I needed to remedy that today.

But there's been a little problem. Between family vacation & Vacation Bible School at church & getting adjusted to a new baby, I haven't been meeting with my gaming group all that much. So I haven't been playing that many games.

Of course, there's gaming with Braeden... which is quite enjoyable. He got Buckaroo for his birthday last week - it's more fun than I remember, and he does pretty well at it. For those who don't remember, Buckaroo is an old-school (1970) "stack something on a spring-loaded contraption" game - in this case, an ornery mule - and try not to be the one who sets it off.

So the majority of gaming has been with the Under 30 small group that meets in our home on Wednesday nights. In recent weeks, we've played Taboo (still good after all these years), Squint (which continues to inspire mixed reactions), Loopin Louie, Take 6 (with 10 players, even!) and, of course, their favorite...

Smarty Party. We've now played enough games of Smarty Party to go through BOTH the original deck of cards and the expansion box... but we're still not done playing, so we've restarted through the original box.

I was a little worried that some people (well, me) would have an unfair advantage from having heard all of the questions before... but so far, it doesn't look like it will work quite that way. Because we play with 7-8 players, the chances of your answers being gone by the time it gets to your turn is much bigger; if you don't have the cards memorized, you could be in the soup even if you'd heard the question before.

I'm still winning the majority of our Smarty Party games - though I went through a losing streak in May that really bugged me. (Don't you hate being GOOD at something and then not doing well at it?!)

Most irritating moment: the question was "location of first 7 Survivor seasons" and I answered "Borneo"... which was wrong. The correct answer (according to the card) was "Pulau Tigu". However, I had the Survivor first season DVD rented from Netflix (we'll talk about my strange fascination with reality television another time) and was able to show the group that it was now called Survivor: Borneo - printed right on the DVD! They still didn't give it to me. Grrrr.

If you haven't played Smarty Party, I recommend it highly as a party game for 4-8 folks (it will work with 3, but it's more fun with the larger groups). Whoever is in first place (which is bad in this game) gets to read. They receive a card with one or two categories on it, and 9-12 answers to those categories. (Example: "The names of the seven dwarves in Snow White (7) and the countries that mine the most diamonds (5)".) The card also a pair of pants on it with a number.

The reader considers the difficulty of the category and the answers, then decides whether he thinks the group can get X number of correct answers (the number on the pants on the card) or if they will run out of penalty chips first. After he bets, he then chooses a starting player for the round and reads the category.

Beginning with the starting player (wow, is that redundant?), players give ONE answer that they think is on the card. If they're correct, they get to hold the Smarty Pants (a pair of very cute plastic pants). If they're wrong, they receive a penalty chip. (There are 7 chips... 3, 2, 2, 1, 1, 1, 1.) Play continues around the table, with players taking possesion of the pants or taking chips until the group completes the card or all of the penalty chips are gone. (There is a 30 second timer which is used at the discretion of the reader: if he wants you to get answers correct, he'll leave it alone; if he bet against the group, he'll use to pressure wrong answers.)

Then you score. The reader goes back 1 space if he bet correctly, and goes forward 1 space if he was wrong. All of the other players move forward the number of spaces equal to the value of their penalty chips... except the player holding the pants (the last person to answer correctly). They get to cancel one of their penalty chips, or, if they didn't take any chips, move back 1 space.

The new "first place" player becomes the reader... and the game continues until someone hits the "game over" space. At that point, the player closest to Start is the winner.

I've played this over 50 times now (we got roughly 20-25 plays out of each box of cards) and still have a blast each time it hits the table.

Oddly enough, I playtested an EARLY version of this game (called Idealist at that point) at Gulf Games 7 in Orlando. The scoring hadn't been worked out and the game went on way too long, but the idea was there - it's really fun to see it work so brilliantly in it's published form.

Now, we're all wondering if there's a 2nd expansion box planned...

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