Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Game Reviewlet: Ticked Off!

I will not – though every bone in my body tells me I should – make the obligatory “ticked off” title pun joke to go with my less-than-positive comments about the game. You should feel no such limitations.

We had the opposite problem from Greg’s experience with Ticked Off! – our game (with four players) only lasted 3 rounds. The bidding didn’t get pushed high enough in the first category, giving me the opportunity to score 25+ points on the first turn. I was Start Player once more (for another 20 or so points), then scored another 15 with someone else as the Start Player. Game over.

And then we come to my particular beef with the game: Ted’s self-proclaimed “awesome rule that prevents a living encyclopedia from running away with the game!” (This quote is from his BGG comment on Ticked Off!.) Until I saw Ted’s comment, I wasn’t sure whether the rule was serious or not – the rules are written in a jaunty style with a number of witty asides about questioning the mental fitness of the Start Player and taunting others about their lack of knowledge.

The rule in question?

“IMPORTANT! If the player with the most points at the end of the game is more than 15 points ahead of the next highest scoring player, he is disqualified for cheating (really, how else could he be that far ahead?), and the player in second place wins.”

This may be a great game for some people – but if you’re good at trivia games, the “game” for you (thanks to this rule) is gaming the system to stay in front but not too far in front. In other words, you have to “play dumb” in order to win – underbidding, intentionally leaving off answers, picking categories you aren’t good at, etc. This is decidedly not a “game” I want to be playing.

And while I understand that Ted & Frank are going for a smart-alecky vibe in the rules, the “disqualified for cheating” crack gets under my skin. I reserve accusations of cheating for, well, cheating. (Yes, I know, I know – I’m the butt of this particular joke… but that doesn’t make it any funnier.)

This is not a shot at Ted or Frank as designers or publishers – while I love Time’s Up & Smarty Party (both published by R&R Games), I have the same issues with another R&R game designed by my friend Stephen Glenn (You Must Be An Idiot). Both YMBAI & Ticked Off! punish players with more trivia skills in the name of fun for the rest of the table – which is not fun for those players.

I will say in the game’s defense that one of the players at the table really enjoyed it (granted, he came in second). As well, the production is very well done – with the exception of the gold & yellow pawns, which are way too close in color.

This, as you can tell by now, is not a full review - thus the "reviewlet" title. It's actually my comment on a full review published by Greg Schloesser on the Opinionated Gamers website.

I also need to note that a review copy was provided by R&R Games.

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