Tuesday, December 07, 2010

#84: Say Anything

Say Anything
  • designer: Dominic Crapuchettes & Satish Pillalamarri
  • publisher: North Star Games
  • date: 2008
  • BoardGameGeek rank/rating: 356/7.08
  • position on my top 100 in 2005: did not appear
  • age: 13+
  • # of players: 3-8
  • print status: in print
  • cost: $17.75 (Game Surplus)
Here's what I wrote not too long after it was released... which still holds true.

Proving once again that my superpower is Getting Random Strangers To Give Me Things (though, frankly, there are not enough Random Strangers and not enough Things Given), I just received a pre-release copy of Northstar Games
Say Anything.

The game itself is very simple - take the rotating Judge concept from Apples to Apples, add in the answer submission system (tiny dry-erase boards & pens) from Wits & Wagers, and top it off with a kinder betting system, also from Wits & Wagers. Players take turns being the Judge, who draws a question card & picks one of the five questions to read. The rest of the players then race to scribble out answers that they think will entice/entertain or otherwise engage the Judge.
Example from one of our games the other night - my wife asked us: "Aliens have just landed on earth? What do you do?" Some of the answers were (from memory, so I'm not sure I'm completely accurate here):
  • "Hide!" (this was my answer)
  • "Run away"
  • "Kill 'em"
  • "Feed them something" (this was the answer that Shari picked)
After all the answers are in (the Judge gets to decide if answers are duplicates - you can't have those - and who got their answer down first), the Judge secretly picks the answer they like using the Select-o-Matic 5000, which sounds a lot more sophisticated than it is. (It's a spinner that doesn't spin very well - which is how it's supposed to work.) Then the rest of the players quickly lay their bets (each has two betting chips) on the answer or answers they think the Judge will pick.

With the chips played, the Judge reveals their answer & points are scored - the system is designed to reward players who guess correctly without creating chances for runaway victories... in fact, the entire game is designed for maximum party enjoyment rather than maximum gamerness. (Yes, I know "gamerness" is not a word - but most of you get what I'm talking about.)

I've had the opportunity to play the game twice now - once with 5 players and once with 7 players. The five player game was fun - enough so that we promptly roped 2 more people into the game & played with seven, which was a LOT more fun. I think the sweet spot for the game is probably 6-8 players.
Here's what I like about the game:
  • plays quickly - a huge plus for party games
  • nobody feels dumb - you can approach how to answer the questions in whatever form you wish: you can try to please the Judge, you can try to be the class clown & make with the silliness, you can simply try & entertain yourself...
  • the score doesn't matter much - sure, if you're playing a 2 hour game of El Grande, you want to know the exact score at the end, but the draw here is not the winner(s) celebrating, it's the journey getting there
  • the rules - they are incredibly easy to explain
  • it's got the good parts of Apples to Apples with added creativity - the free-form questions means the game doesn't devolve into the same kinds of jokes & picks (as A2A has a tendency to do)
  • it simplifies the Wits & Wagers scoring - I love Wits & Wagers... but the betting system is tough for non-gamers to wrap their heads around. Say Anything uses the same kind of system in a way that's friendlier to non-gamers.
A warning: some of the questions on the cards could cause certain crowds to head in a PG-13/R-rated direction with their answers... while that's a selling point for some folks, I know a number of folks who read this blog work with youth & adults in faith-based settings. None of the questions are smutty (as in some other party games) but you'll want to be aware of this possibility. Please don't misunderstand me - I really, really enjoy the game; I'm just aware of the potential for problems in these kind of arenas.

A final word: I saw the folks who played the game with us a couple of days later - and they were still talking about it. That's the kind of reaction you want from a party game! I see Say Anything getting a lot more play around here, esp. with Bible study groups & small parties.

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