Thursday, 4 April 2013

Just Call Me Anne Robinson ( Annual Games Marathon #2)

A couple of years ago I was at a quiz in Ton Pentre, which I’d never been to before, and after winning the quiz one of the other players made the comment “I bet nobody ever wants to play against you at Trivial Pursuit”. This led to a post asking readers about other quiz games they’d played, and as a result of this post I bought The World According to Ubi, and fell in love with the game. It’s still my favourite trivia/quiz game by a long, long way.

Last year, purely on the spur of the moment, my daughter Jess and I dug it out, and used it as stage one of what became a games marathon. We spent most of the day taking it in turns to pick various games to play against each other, the first of which was Ubi. After a couple of hours Jess’ twin sister Jen and Jen’s boyfriend Shaun also joined us. A good fun day.

Well, that day rather started something. While we’ve never quite gone the whole hog and spent a whole day playing games since, we’ve spent many evenings trying out one or another game. I should probably explain that. Jess has kept eagle eyes open in car boot sales and charity shops, and over the last 12 months we have put together quite a collection of quiz based games. To name but a few – over the last year we’ve acquired : -

Trivial Pursuit – Genus, Genus II, Baby Boomer, 2008 Genus, Young Players, Family Edition,TV Edition, 20th Anniversary Edition, Sports, Entertainment, RPM (Music) 1, RPM 2,90’s edition,
Isaac Asimov’s Superquiz
Waddington’s Masterquiz
Sporting Triangles (remember that show?)
A Question of Sport (1987)
A Question of Sport (1991)
A Question of Pop(2000)
The $64,000 Question
Magnus Magnusson’s The Quizmaster
Dave Lee Travis’ Give Us a Break
Who Wants To Be A Millionaire
Today’s The Day
Genius – The Game of the Guinness Book of Records

This is not an exhaustive list , but it will at least give you an idea. Well, yesterday we played the second running of our annual Games Marathon. Disney Trivia again, Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit TV and Family Editions (Jess likes the Family Edition, because the questions really are slanted to give the player on the child questions a decent chance of winning, even more so than the Young Players edition) , Pointless, Ubi and then her latest acquisition, The Weakest Link.

This is not the electronic game version. Now, we’ve played quite a few TV tie in games in the last year so I feel qualified to make a couple of points here. In all of the tie in games the designers have had to face a dilemma – do they go all out to reproduce the gameplay of the show faithfully, or do they take the basic idea of the game, but come up with something of a more traditional board game which moves away from the gameplay of the show? There’s advantages and disadvantages on both sides. The makers of The Weakest Link game went all out to be as authentic to the show as they possibly could.

The nature of The Weakest Link was such that I would imagine that for the majority of the audience it wasn’t the questions that provided the main source of interest in the show. It was the voting, and the nastiness of the hostess. Presumably the majority of people buying this game would be regular viewers, and so these elements really needed to be built into the game somehow. The result was a very different quiz game.

We’d never roadtested the game before, and we quickly found a drawback to it. In order to make the game work, you need at least 5 players. That’s quite a lot. Alright – not quite such a huge problem in my house, where we’ve 7 of us living here at the moment, but then the chances of any 5 being willing to play at the same time are strictly limited. Not only that, one of your five players has to be prepared to play Anne Robinson. The game even comes with an Anne Robinson mask for the question master. I shall be putting mine on the mantelpiece to frighten the grandkids away from the fire when they start walking. Whoever takes the part of Anne has a lot to do in the game. Firstly they have to ask the questions to each competitor. They have to keep moving the bank indicator, and keep track of where the team banks each time. The mechanics of the way this is done are actually very clever and work in practice. Then they have to conduct the voting. Again, this is clever. Each player has their own different coloured playing piece, which ‘Anne’ moves along a board each time they get one wrong, to keep track of the weakest link. Each player also has a voting wheel. In the voting round they move the wheel to select the colour of the player they want to vote off. It’s all perfectly clear and easy to do when you play it, and it does replicate the mechanics of the show itself very well. As in the show, the two remaining contestants battle it out in a head to head over 5 questions each. In the event of a tie, sudden death ensues until there is a winner.

We managed to play through one game, which didn’t take more than about half an hour. Yes, I had to play Anne. Well, in fact it was gently explained to me that I could either play Anne, or resign myself to the prospect of getting voted out at the very first opportunity. A bit of a no brainer, really.

Well, that was pretty much our second games marathon , and there are worse ways you can spend a day of your precious Easter holidays. As for today, well, in a little while I’m off to school to run an Easter revision session for the pupils who are doing their GCSE English in a few weeks time. I’m tempted to do it in the Anne Robinson mask.


Unknown said...

The problem is that there is no incentive for NOT voting off the strongest player as soon as possible. In the TV show this will result in reduced winnings, but since there is nothing tangible to win in the boardgame version, this vital point is removed. This is a common problem with trying to make games of contests where money for the winner is the object (e.g. WWTBAM - go for the million pound question? Why not, what's to lose?) and why it's usually pointless to try and make a direct translation.

Londinius said...

Hi Jon

Yes, I know where you're coming from. And you're right. But even so, I have to say that I was quietly impressed with the way they'd managed to keep the mechanics of the original show.