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[Review] Things...Humour in a Box

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  • Tom Vasel
    I run a board game afternoon each Sunday at my church, with quite a few people staying and playing games. The designer games see a lot of play, and people
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 1, 2005
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      I run a board game afternoon each Sunday at my church, with quite a
      few people staying and playing games. The "designer" games see a lot
      of play, and people are usually quite willing to try new things. But
      party games still have a good following, as there's just something
      about them that people enjoy. Things…Humour in a Box (Quinn & Sherry
      Inc., 2002 - designer not credited) is another in a series of party
      games that we've recently tried. "Things…" adds a bit of a memory
      element and deduction to your typical everyone-input-an-answer party
      game.

      While not attaining the status of great party games such as Time's Up
      and Why did the Chicken?, "Things…" did go over quite well in my
      groups - enough to where it was requested time and time again. It
      didn't play very well with a teenager crew, but with adults - everyone
      had a blast! There will be some that don't like the memory aspect
      (can be ignored using a variant), and others may attempt to be "gamey"
      when playing; but for the most part, "Things…" is a party game worthy
      of owning. (As long as you already have the big three - Apples to
      Apples, Time's Up, and Why did the Chicken?)

      Each player is given some paper, a pencil, and a stack of Topic cards
      (300 are included in the game) that are placed in the middle of the
      table. One person is the "reader" for the first round and takes the
      top card and reads it aloud. Examples of topics are…
      - Things…cannibals think about while dining,
      - Things…that are harder than they look.
      - Things…you shouldn't say to your in-laws.
      - Things…you would do if you were a giant.
      All players, including the reader, write an answer to the card, and
      pass them to the reader. After receiving all the responses, the
      reader reads them aloud twice. Starting with the player to the left
      of the reader, each player makes one guess as to who wrote what
      response. If they guess correctly, they receive one point, and the
      player whose answer they guessed is out of the round. The correct
      answer also gives them another guess. If the player guesses
      incorrectly, their turn is over; and the player to their left (if not
      eliminated gets a chance to guess. This continues until all players
      have been eliminated but one (or more than one, if no one can remember
      any of the responses), at which point six points are split amongst the
      remaining players.

      The responses are never re-read, until half of the players have been
      eliminated, at which point the remaining responses are read one final
      time. After the round ends, a new reader picks a topic card, and the
      game continues. After a set number of rounds, the game ends; and the
      player with the most points is the winner!

      Some comments on the game…

      1.) Components: "Things…" comes in wooden box with a sliding,
      removable lid. The box seems fairly durable (I cracked mine, but I
      did drop it from a backpack while moving quickly) and is light. The
      box is also split into three sections - one for the small pencils
      included with the game (all party games should do this), one for the
      300 topic cards (which are okay quality - as party cards go), and one
      for the response papers and score sheets. I have to stop and talk
      about the response sheets here, as I thought they were a clever idea.
      The response pad, which is thick (I guesstimate about 200 sheets or
      so), is perforated so that players can tear each paper into five equal
      strips. This cuts down on the waste from other party games (in some,
      we continually scribble out old answers so that we can re-use the same
      paper) and is a pretty neat idea. The only bad thing I'll say about
      "Things…Humour in a Box" is that the game doesn't look very fun, as
      the box, cards, and everything else just isn't flashy or very
      interesting. That doesn't reflect in gameplay but may affect people's
      purchasing decisions.

      2.) Rules: The rules come on a single-sheet of paper, double-sided.
      They are short, as with most party games and formatted okay for the
      most part. I DON'T think it's NECESSARY to CAPITALIZE as many WORDS
      as they did in the rules, but it's not a big deal. Players learn the
      game quite quickly - pretty much par for a game such as this.

      3.) Easy Play: The game has some memory elements, and every game I've
      played in has people sitting there, trying to remember the different
      responses given. It's usually not that big of a deal; you can always
      guess the same incorrect response as the person before you with a
      different person, but some folks may not like this memory aspect. The
      rules mention an easy play variant, in which players can write down a
      word or two of each response to help them remember them better.
      Personally, I like playing WITH the memory aspect, but to each their
      own.

      4.) "Gamey": I've played games similar to this with my classes
      before, and one problem can crop up. If one particular player is
      winning, each other player can, in turn, guess that player's name in
      connection with a different response. That player will, according to
      the law of averages, eventually be eliminated from the game, and
      probably, according to the law of grudges, be annoyed with everyone
      else. This has only cropped up once in my playings, but the
      possibility is there.

      5.) Age, Players, Time: Since there is only one round for each person
      (we often change this), the game ends pretty quickly. The game can
      handle up to fifteen players (according to the box), although I
      haven't played with more than ten. It does NOT make a good game for
      four players, and I wouldn't play with less than six. One thing that
      I found was that the teenagers just didn't really "get" the game.
      They wrote answers that were too obvious from their personalities, and
      often had a hard time coming up with responses. Adults, on the other
      hand, did very well with the game and had a great time, even though
      occasionally the answers to the topics strayed into some very odd
      answers.

      6.) Fun Factor: The most fun part of this game is hearing one player
      ask another incredulously, "You wrote that!!!??" When a demure player
      writes an answer that is totally out of character, yet funny or
      poignant, it really makes the game fun to play. Some of the topic
      cards, such as Things…you shouldn't advertise in the classified ads,
      lend themselves automatically to humorous responses, but it's
      interesting to see what people write to any topic. In fact, the game
      could even be played with a psychological bent - to see what people's
      personalities are like from their responses, but I could care less;
      I'm just here to have fun.

      If trying to guess what other player's silly responses to a topic are
      sounds like fun to you, then "Things…" is a great game that you should
      get. I enjoy the game; and while I won't pull it out as much as my
      top party games, it will see a lot of play. For one, it can handle
      very large groups of people and has a bit of a "breaking ice" type
      feel, where you can learn about each other (in a funny way). For
      another, the shock on people's faces when they realize the author of
      specific responses is just priceless sometimes. If party games go
      over well in your groups, this is one you shouldn't miss!

      Tom Vasel
      "Real men play board games."
      www.tomvasel.com
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