Half Truth – the quiz where you only need to know half the answers!

But it turns out, only having to get half the answers right is a lot harder than it sounds.
Half Truth is the new quiz game from the brilliant minds of Richard Garfield (creator of Magic the Gathering) and Ken Jennings (a record-breaking Jeopardy contestant). Magic is one of the most influential card games ever created. As this is such a different genre of game I had incredibly high but at the same time very non-specific expectations; I expected greatness but had no idea what form that greatness would take. I am not disappointed.
The game is played over three rounds with players gaining victory points after each question and then at the end of each round. The person with the most victory points at the end of the game wins. For each question or statement there are three correct answers (truths) and three false answers. You can choose up to three of your voting chips to answer the question, scoring more points the more you get right. But, get one wrong and you score zero. So if you get over confident or desperately behind you can easily be tripped up. Having an English Literature degree, it turns out, does not mean you definitely know which of the six books listed have an opening sentence that is less than six words long. It does mean though that you are overly confident, score zero and then have the ‘Weren’t you an English teacher?’ ‘That doesn’t mean I’ve read every book that exists’ conversation. Again.
Before you answer each question, the die is rolled to determine how many points the question is worth which randomises the value of the questions. One of the symbols on the die rewards risk taking by increasing your points the more answers you go for, while another lets you select between one and three incorrect answers. This gives the game a little variety and changes up how you feel about pushing your luck each turn. Choosing the three incorrect answers for some reason really threw us off, making us think more which was an unexpected twist.
You place your carefully selected voting chip(s) face down in front of you. And if you are me – remove one, add two, swap one then revert to your original guess *ahem* knowledgeable answer while people repeatedly say ‘Ready?’. When finally revealed you place them in the corresponding space on the game board and turn over the question card to find out who got what right! The components are chunky and satisfyingly tactile and hard wearing. This is another important consideration for me as this will clearly be a game that gets plenty of play.
There are 500 question cards which is a massive amount making this an excellent investment and they cover a bewildering array of topics. I’m sure by the time we’ve worked our way through all of these I will have completely forgotten which are legitimate Ikea products and which are just made up words; what is a dinosaur as opposed to a character in Transformers and which characters are from Alice Through The Looking Glass as opposed to Alice in Wonderland.
The volume of questions means that we didn’t worry too much that we had to put some to one side. Our household knowledge of American culture is such that some questions were just beyond us. Best guessing and deducing answers is part of the fun but pure guess work feels a bit pointless.
Half Truth boasts that it is ‘the party game that makes you feel smarter’. I know it wouldn’t be as catchy but more accurately this would read ‘the party game that makes alternating players feel smart while mere moments later questioning everything they ever thought they knew’. Some of the questions are really challenging.
The worst part of it is that they don’t look challenging. With categories like ‘Words in the lyrics of Hey! Jude’, it’s easy to be blase – I definitely know *all* the words to that. Gets ready to confidently identify the three correct answers and score all the points. Cue 6 people sitting round the table singing with diminishing confidence ‘Hey Jude, don’t make it ….bbbbaaaa, da da da da da da da da da-a-a-a Remember to let her into your heart da da da daaa da da da better better better better.’
Erm, yep turns out we all only know some of the words.
After correctly (and smugly) identifying three types of headwear, we flipped the card to learn that the remaining three incorrect answers were types of doll. So, we learned a thing – whether that counts as becoming smarter remains to be seen! Another clever facet of the game is that often the three wrong answers are linked in some way so you could use some unrelated knowledge lurking about in a dusty corner of your brain, recognise that and still win big.
One of the things I enjoy about a well designed quiz game is the discussion it provokes. Many of these answers and the explanation on the flip side found us discussing, debating and swapping stories. We spent a good while comparing the merits of various visitor attractions after we tried and failed to work out which three destinations attract more visitors than Disneyland.
Watching people play games and listening to the laughter and chatter is my favourite part of running games events. I know that this game will provide that connection and that fun for players of all ages. All I need now are some events to take it to but that time will come again once it’s safe. Luckily it will play well on Skype so I’m looking forward to trying it there. Find out more about my online lockdown events here and join me for a game.
Now we’re back to in person events you can play this at one of Cards or Die’s events.

Death on the Cards – Agatha Christie

Unveil and apprehend the murderer in this clever sleuthing card game.
Plays 2-6
Age 10+
Playing Time 30mins
“It is the brain, the little grey cells on which one must rely. One must seek out the truth within” Poirot.
In Death on the Cards you must work together, exercising your little grey cells to identify the murderer! The game is well packaged with charming art work. You might argue that there are more important factors in choosing games but a literature related pun, a sturdy box with a magnetic closer and pretty cards go a long way in my book!
The game plays very differently depending on the number of players. With 5 or 6 players you have both a murderer and an accomplice to uncover. With just 2 players, you know who the murderer is from the get-go so it’s just a straightforward but frenetic game of cat and mouse. I was pleasantly surprised that it works just as well with any number of people. It’s a different game but just as much fun.
The basic premise is the same however many players you have – the murderer must exhaust the draw pile to reveal the ‘Murderer Escapes’ card which depicts them gleefully skipping off into the distance with nary a care in the world. Meanwhile the detectives try to prevent them from depleting the draw pile. In addition, should the murderer reveal everyone’s secrets the murderer wins while should the murderer’s secrets be revealed the murderer loses.
Each player is given 3 secrets at the beginning – you might not be the murderer but you’ve all committed various social faux pas and we all want more details on your involvement in the ‘vicarage incident’ . When all 3 of your secrets are revealed you are frozen out of the game unless you are the murderer in which case you’ve been rumbled. If the murderer succeeds in revealing all three of everyone’s cards then they have escaped. Once they’ve heard all your despicable secrets they’ll be able to set up a lucrative career as a blackmailer so you need to work together to make sure that definitely doesn’t happen.
You must closely observe the other players in order to work out who the murderer is. Are they deliberately drawing lots of cards? What kinds of cards are they playing? What cards are they discarding? Or are you just going to go on instinct? As Christie herself once said “Instinct is a marvellous thing. It can neither be explained nor ignored”.
The Detectives
There are 7 different detectives that you can use to force others to reveal secrets. To play them you need to collect a matching set or use the Harley Quinn wild card with them. And, once played you can add to an existing set in order to repeat that action. They’re all there: Poirot and Marple of course, Tommy and Tuppence Beresford and my new favourite – Lady Bundle Brent. Each detective acts slightly differently and each card has a different quotation from that character. It is nice touches like this that really make the game for me.
Other actions
The actions are cleverly balanced to benefit either the murderer or the detectives. For instance Look into the Ashes cards allow you to choose a card from the discard pile while the Early Train to Paddington allows you to move six cards from the draw pile to the discard pile: each of these affects the speed the draw pile reduces thereby either abetting or hampering the murderer’s escape.
The Point Your Suspicions card is a fun card which, timed well, can have a significant impact on the game. When played all players point to the person they suspect. Although it just forces the most pointed at player to reveal a secret, there is much to be deduced from people’s actions here. Remember “If you are to be Hercule Poirot, you must think of everything” No clue is too small to be overlooked by your keen detective’s mind.
The Not So Fast, You Fiend! card allows you to counter most actions – a very useful mechanism. Similar to the Nope card people are often familiar with in Exploding Kittens. Each player starts with one of these cards but when to play it? Do you cancel this action or wait in case something even worse is in store for you?
The game comes with player aid cards which summarise your turn for you. Plus all the cards have clear instructions on and that along with a well written instruction booklet makes the game quick and easy to learn. It’s well worth lingering over the flavour text though.
Agatha Christie’s Death on the Cards is a triumph – it has been a hit at home and at events. Whether you are taking tea at the vicarage, enjoying a train journey, sojourning up the Nile or simply having friends for supper – it really is the perfect addition to your evening.
Come along to a Cards or Die event and have a game with us.
Find out more about Agatha Christie and the game here: https://www.agathachristie.com/games/death-on-the-cards

Christmas Gift Guide – Games of course!

I firmly believe that there isn’t an age limit on games. Maybe it was because I was raised on games that proudly boasted their upper limit as 99 years of age. The likes of Spears, Waddingtons and MB knew all along that good games are good for everyone. As adults we don’t play enough. It can sometimes feel like we wait to have children around to give us the excuse to be daft, to let go of our inhibitions and immerse ourselves in play.
Play for the sake of play is perfectly valid but if that isn’t reason enough then think about the other benefits – the escapism of games, the mindfulness of them, the exercise for your brain.
And it’s not just me who thinks so…
“Play leads to brain plasticity, adaptability, and creativity. Nothing fires up the brain like play.” Stuart Brown
“Play stimulates the parts of the brain involved in both careful logical reasoning and carefree, unbound exploration.” Greg McKeown.
So for that reason I haven’t organised these by age or, god forbid, gender. If you want to know what sort of games ‘women’ like then I really can’t help you. At all.
I’ve included a wide variety so there’s just a short description of each game – give me a shout if you want any more details. Each title takes you to a website where you can buy the game – I’ve used amazon a lot for ease but you might want to also look on Zatu Games , Goblin Games or pop into a real life shop like Travelling Man.
Gross Games
These are some of my most popular pub games, it’s not just children who find poo inherently amusing. Quick to learn and fairly quick to play. most of these require a reading age of about 7.
You are monkeys flinging poo at each other. Use cards to deflect poo aimed at you or to clean some poo off. You’ll need some way of keeping score – I went for brown counters of course!
Easy to play – the instructions are on the cards.
Work out which animal did the poo in the living room! Race to get rid of all your cards by being the quickest to match the last card played and making plausible accusations! A cross between snap and a memory game. No reading is required in this one.
This is a swear free take on the classic ‘shithead’, also handily has action cards so you don’t have to begin by trying to remember which card does what! Be the first to get rid of all your cards, try and avoid having to pick up the discard pile. It comes with frankly foul scratch and sniff stickers which I suggest you reserve for the loser.
There’s no reason why gross games can’t be strategic! Be the goblin who gobbles the largest amount of disgusting foods. Collect sets of the same food but watch out for a variety of attacks such as vomiting, stealing and being made to eat your greens. Each goblin has their own special ability. It plays up to 12 goblins.
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Fast Reactions
Be the first player to grab the object which is not represented on the card. In the picture below – working from left to right -you would need to grab the grey mouse, then the blue book and the grey mouse again. If you successfully grab the correct object you keep the card, and the person with the most cards wins. This is an addictive and easily portable game. I’m convinced that it uses part of your brain that nothing else uses! It definitely exercises those little grey cells.
Although a lot of people seem to have this it is an absolute classic and I couldn’t do a gift guide and not mention it. It comes in a small round tin, perfect to pop in your bag or in someone’s stocking. Similar to snap but each card features a number of images – you must match one of these with one on another card. You can also get themed versions – we have Star Wars Dobble and the Harry Potter version is on my Christmas list. There are 5 mini games which are entertaining with children or wine but probably not both!
A frantic dice rolling game for up to 4 people. You each get a set of dice which you race to place on the matching dice images. First to get rid of their dice shouts Zonkers! calling an end to that round. But watch out – fastest doesn’t always mean best. A test of observation, speed and strategy.
This also comes with a number of mini games so it’s great value!
Longer, thinkier games.
A co-operative game where you work together to collect the treasure you came for and escape the island. But the island is slowly flooding which hampers your efforts. If you are thinking of trying co-operative games then this is a great starting point.
If you have enjoyed this then you might want to try Forbidden Desert or Sky as these are similar but more challenging.
A short version of the classic Ticket to Ride Europe which was an instant hit and remains a best seller. Collect cards to enable you to place buses on routes across London. You score bonuses for linking certain places and for completing set routes. A nice strategic game with lovely pieces – who doesn’t love playing with tiny buses! It takes about 30 minutes whereas you can be playing the other versions for over an hour. So it’s a good one to try and there are loads of variations of this available so if you enjoy this you may want to collect some of the others.
Simply roll, move and place your dice to make sets of four or more. A lovely tactile strategy game which like all my favourites is quick to learn but gives you lots to think about. There’s also plenty of opportunity to thwart other people’s plans which is always satisfying.
What could be more christmassy than donning your deerstalker or firing up your little grey cells. Settle down with a nice milky drink and these two classics:
A favourite in our house. Work your way round the board collecting clues about the crime. Each case is different and you must race your opponents to solve it and get back to Scotland Yard with the solution. Some of the clues are a little cryptic and some are quite tricky. Fine for adults but children may need some guidance or to team up.
You have to work out who the murderer is by playing a variety of detective and other tactical cards. Then, once you have uncovered the murderer you must prevent them skipping off into the sunset. The murderer meanwhile will be doing everything they can to freeze you out of society and make good their escape. With 5 or 6 players the murderer has an accomplice. Also works brilliantly as a two player game where the murderer is trying to escape while the detective tries to catch them.
Each card has three letters on, turn over a card and trigger the bomb which will begin to tick loudly! Say a word which contains the letters shown (roll the die to determine whereabouts in the word they must be) and pass the bomb on to the next person. Continue to pass it with each player saying another word containing those letters until the bomb explodes (it has a variable timer so you can never know when it will go!). A great game for big groups – loads of wordy fun.
A speedy game of word recognition. Turn over the cards and shout out as you see the words appear. There are bonus cards for getting targeted word lengths and flettered cards for if you slip up under pressure! You can also push your luck by waiting for a longer word and hoping no one else has spotted your word! Each letter has a different value. At the end of the game you add up your pile of claimed words and the person with the most points at the end wins.
Wibbell++ is not just one word game but a whole system of games. There are instructions for 6 different games in the box but there are many more on the website – they will have you creating stories, making up funny phrases, racing to grab as many cards as you can by matching symbols and letters and outwitting your opponent by being the first to come up with a word containing the revealed letters.
This is always a popular game at my events. This quiz is all based on logos and product knowledge including some picture rounds. You can play up to 6 people individually or play in teams if there are more of you. I have the classic logo game but there are lots of versions available including a christmas one.
The rocks have been around a long time and their knowledge is immeasurable. Pit yourselves against them in this fun trivia quiz game. Work together to come up with an answer of 0, 1 or 2 and then give the rocks in the box a shake to see what they think. The double sided rocks have a 1 painted on one side while the other is blank, so they can land displaying 0, 1 or 2. One of the things I like about this is the quirky questions and the fact that the answer is not just given but explained so you might not start out smarter than a rock but hey at least you are learning which is more than can be said for the rocks!
This is another of my most popular games. The answers are all colours and each player has a hand of coloured cards. Reveal the question then place the coloured card or cards that you think are correct face down. When everyone is ready you reveal your answers. I think the idea that you can make an educated guess rather than being unable to answer really appeals. It also has a nice catch up mechanic allowing you to target the lead player with a colour catcher card so you can (for one turn only) steal some of an opponent’s cards.
Charades based games
Gamely Games have a trio of fabulous games two of which fall into this category and can be played in teams. Soundiculous has you mimicking the sounds of various things – fridges, monkeys, karate! while everyone races to be the first to accurately identify the sound.
In Randomise you select three cards (A, B and C) choose a number 1-3 which gives you a phrase like a confused dinosaur selling lemonade.This can then be communicated through description, charades or through pictures.
The pretender is a social deduction game where you must work out who is only pretending to know what the key word is.
All of these come in lovely small boxes – perfect for posting or for stocking fillers.
My wishlist
This seems like a good as place as any to let the big man know what I would like for Christmas this year. Considering I have been exceptionally well behaved this year I would very much like the following:
Splendor – I’m really enjoying Jaipur and if I remember correctly this is similar but plays 4 instead of 2. Nice and strategic with shiny gems!
Muse Card Game This sounds similar to Dixit and the art work looks absolutely beautiful (can you also send me some people who would play this with me as most of my family will hate it with a passion usually reserved for their disdain for Dixit) and Staccups because it looks like crazy fun and I can imagine the whole family playing this over Christmas.
If you’ve got loads of games or just don’t know where to start, why not buy a gift voucher for a games night. Instead of buying more stuff, why not buy an experience, some time together, memories. Book Cards or Die to run a games night for you – we read the rules and bring the games. All you have to do is get the gang together and tell us where and when! Prices start from £8.95 per person.
I hope this has provided you with some inspiration. And if you do fancy treating me to a festive cuppa or a slice of cake, here’s my Ko Fi link!
Join us at a Cards or Die event.
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Charades, Noise and Social Ridiculousness

Just before Christmas I received this exciting package from Gamely Games. Three pocket sized boxes of fun – perfect party games to pop in my bag and take to the pub. If you are a Dragon’s Den fan you may have seen Deborah Meaden miming her way through a round of Randomise. In the end Gamely Games walked away from the den with no deal but not without offers. The games are quick to learn but offer hours of entertainment so get the gang round and settle down for a ridiculous games evening!!
Players 4+
Time 30mins
Age 8+
Price £11.99 (available on Amazon or direct from Gamely Games)
Choose one card from each pile, pick a number and then act, draw or describe your way to victory. You can choose from hard or easy tasks. You might be a dramatic Polar bear making sushi or a macho snail doing the ironing. The random nature of the categories combined with your skilful acting is what makes the game so hilarious. It has been a hit with adults and children alike. Most people seem to automatically choose the charades option but the drawing option has proved a good travel game for my children. (Less distracting than charades or arguing while I’m driving!!).
Players 3-10
Time 15mins
Age 8+
Price £11.99 (available on Amazon or direct from Gamely Games)
Surprisingly challenging, Soundiculous requires you to mimic a sound while others guess what sound you are making. What I hear when I make a tumble dryer sound is apparently nothing like an actual tumble dryer! A very simple premise that has had us howling with laughter. Even the noises which we accurately guessed were entertaining. Although personally I thought my beatboxing was me stumbling on a hidden talent, I’m pretty sure that they were still laughing about the tumble dryer. Children can be very unforgiving.
The Pretender
Players 4-6
Time 15mins
Age 12+
Price £11.99 (available on Amazon or direct from Gamely Games)
A game of social deception.
Choose a category and each player is assigned an identical role – apart from – The Pretender (If you’re not singing by now you’re reading this wrong). Each player performs a mini charade relating to the item on the card. It is a balancing act – you must perform clearly enough so that people don’t think you are the pretender but vaguely enough that the pretender can’t work out the answer. The Pretender has the most difficult challenge though. They must act out a charade which fits with the others – this is of course easier if they are last to go.
Players then discuss who they think the Pretender is. On the count of three, all point towards the accused! The wiley amongst us can always deflect guilt and steer the conversation towards an incorrect accusation. The Pretender can save themselves by guessing what the item on the card was.
Often age guides are a bit conservative for my liking and I regularly play games which are ‘too old’ for my family but this one is bang on. For a ridiculous game there is a certain level of skill and cunning required – definitely one for the grown ups!
I also love the look of these games.The designs are quirky and fun. I adore the colours in The Pretender. When they’re not packed in a bag to go to an event, they look great on my shelf!
As always you can try these games out at one of our upcoming events – and if you can’t make those, you can always book a private party!
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My Big Potato Games Box – Part One: the quizzes.

Obama Llama and Bucket of Doom have long been staples at Cards or Die events so I was very excited when I recently received a box full of goodness from Big Potato games. I thought I’d give you a quick peek in the box! All of these games have gone down a storm at my events. They play either in teams or for larger groups which instantly makes them sociable games. All are easy to learn and many of them follow similar principles. Here, I’m going to look at the quiz based games.
Weird Things Humans Search For
Plays 3-20
Age 14+
Duration 20mins
This is the newest offering from Big Potato games. To win your team needs to complete the sentence with the most commonly googled term. You gain points for correct answers and the team with the most points wins. If you enjoy Google Feud then you’ll enjoy this.
Despite the fact that the game relies on guesswork the content makes it very entertaining. There is definitely a balance to be struck as if you’re answers are too bizarre, they often don’t feature and then we’re just all laughing at you. But go too tame and you are left marvelling at just how odd some people are.
For a quick taster have a go at these – answers at the bottom!
why are babies so…?
can you marry…?
When I say answers, I can only actually provide the end of the questions. Only google knows if boogers are dead brain cells!
Played over 5 rounds it’s quite a quick game and plenty of fun. (N.B. It’s too difficult for cats.)
Mr Lister’s Quiz Shootout
Plays 3+
Age 14+
Duration 30 mins
Collect five different drinks bottles (shown on the reverse of the quiz card) to win. Write down as many answers as you can and in ‘quick fire style’ teams alternate – firing off one answer at a time. Each team gets three shots and at the end of that time the team with the most hits, wins the card. Each card features a last chance saloon question to settle any draws.
You can also use collected cards to swap for a drink you need or to confiscate a drink from another team. Nothing says ‘team’ like working together to screw over the opposition.
There are a mixture of topics from the banal to the ridiculous and the ridiculously tricky: list the UK’s 8 largest supermarket chains; list the 9 types of brass instrument in a symphony orchestra or the 10 most common animals sent into space!
This is a perfect game for any social event. It is a fun mix of common sense, random knowledge that you read somewhere and good old fashioned guess work!
Colour Brain
Plays 2-20
Age 14+
Duration 20
A multi choice quiz with a difference – all of the answers are colours. Be the first team to reach 10 points to win. It’s not enough to get it right though – you only score points if at least one team gets it wrong. In fact, you earn one point for each team that gets it wrong so the more people that fail, the more decisive your victory.
Each team has one colour catcher card which enables them to steal colours from the leading team. You can only use it once so you must do so wisely!
Colour brain is a fun, lighthearted quiz game which contains some surprising revelations – such as: the colours of mourning in China; Hetty the Hoover and Uranus. So, if you’ve a burning urge to discover the colour of Uranus then you need to play Colour brain.
Truth Bombs
Plays 4-8
Age 14+
Duration 20mins
Truth Bombs jokingly mentions that it could ‘destroy your relationships’ which initially put me off a bit. My children were impressed with the fact it was created by Dan and Phil (they’re youtubers apparently), I was indifferent about that but I thought I’d share that knowledge – you’re cool enough to know them. Right? I am so glad I let them nag me into playing it with them. It’s a brilliant game and such a good laugh.
You answer questions about each other and then you have to choose your favourite answer. It can act as a test of who knows you best or if you are playing with some people you know less well then you can just choose the funniest answer. Either way, it’s very entertaining. You gain points by correctly identifying who wrote your favourite answer and by being the person who writes the favourite answer! The best responses involve creativity and wit.
My favourites were:
If there was a fire what would I save? The Boardgames (not the children) Worryingly one of my children wrote that and I hasten to add it is inaccurate. I would save my gold first.
If I invented an app what would it be? Poe-c’mongo (an Edgar Allen Poe themed catch ’em all game)
Someone needs to get on with designing that app!
First dates
Plays 4-10
Age 17+
Duration 20mins
The aim of the game is to be the best matched couple in the restaurant by scoring more points than anyone else throughout the meal. The question cards are divided into Starters, Mains and Desserts.
One couple answers the question while the other couples can win bonus points by correctly predicting whether the couple answering will agree or disagree.
This is not a game for the faint-hearted or easily embarrassed (i.e. me!). Some questions are innocuous ‘Who kept believing in Santa for the longest?’ whilst others are toe-curlingly awkward ‘Who is more likely to pay for sex?’. And some of the others are just too inappropriate for me ‘Who is more likely to have a nervous breakdown?’
Having said that, lots of people enjoy it and have a laugh playing it. I would suggest it’s a game for playing with friends who you trust and not one for after Christmas Lunch with the family! And if you have a high embarrassment threshold then give it a whirl.
So, if you’re looking for something fun, sociable and mildly educational (by educational we mean you’ll know yet more random crap) then look no further – Big Potato games have just the thing for you. Try them at a Cards or Die event: check the Come and See Us page to find out more.
The ‘answers’ – how did you do?

My Big Potato Games Box – Part Two

There were so many fab games in my Big Potato box of goodness that I have split them over two blogs. Click on the link to see Cards or Die’s events and Come and See Us to try them out before you buy. And click here to checkout the games crate on Big Potato games.
While some of the games are inappropriate for younger players, I would urge you to have a look and judge the contents yourself as some of the games – such as Mr Lister and Truth Bombs are fun for younger ones too. My children 10, 11 and 13 really enjoy those in particular, making them perfect family games.
Plays 3-8
Age 14+
Duration 15mins
The aim of the game is to suss out who the chameleon is without revealing the secret word to them. Even once you have correctly identified the chameleon they can slip from your grasp if they can deduce the secret word.
The game offers a reasonable degree of challenge, hence the 14+ rating – you need a decent vocabulary to be able to tackle the game successfully. As the Chameleon you need to be able to think on your feet and choose an appropriate word which links to what everyone else has said. All players need to choose words vague enough to not reveal the secret word and not so obtuse that everyone thinks you’re the chameleon and so you allow the chameleon to escape.
This is a fun, social party game. It’s another quick one so you can cram lots of gaming into your evening! I really like the big chunky dice it comes with. Plus another really cool elements is the blank laminate card so you can create your own categories and secret words over and over again.
Plays 4-8
Age 17+
Duration 30mins
Unlike many other drawing games in this one, points are won through terrible drawing and ridiculous guesses. A huge relief to those who die a little on the inside every time Pictionary, Cranium or Picture This come off the games shelf!
You start with a scenario which is entertaining in its own right: whether it’s a cannibal finger buffet or the never-ending poo. Then you draw the best image you can and pass it on. The next person covers your image and writes down what they think you drew. The next person now draws whatever the writing says. It’s like Telephone* but with drawings!
At the end of the process, you lay out all the responses and choose your favourite work of art and award points. In the unlikely event that the final drawing matches the original scenario you win a whopping 3 points! But remember it’s not called ‘Great works of Art’ or even ‘Art: the abstract movement’. It’s called Scrawl and for good reason!
(*also known as Chinese Whispers)
Obama Llama
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Plays 4+
Age 14+
Duration 30mins
Obama Llama is the first Big Potato game that I bought. It’s always very popular and we enjoy playing at home too. It’s one of those that the children want to get out when we go to board game cafes! Because that’s why you go to a cafe – to play a game you already own!! It went down a storm at a recent Women’s Institute evening (picture above).
It’s the perfect party game as it combines two of the most Christmassy games – Charades – with Pairs. Think Lionel Blair meets Jay-Z. Solve three rhymes for your chance to find a matching pair, and the most pairs wins. When you realise your Aunt is miming Mary Berry missing a ferry, you know you’ve struck comedy gold. One for before the sherry soaked Christmas Pudding!
And of course you don’t need to wait for Christmas, get your rhyming on any time you like!
Bucket of Doom
Plays 3+
Age 17+
Duration 30mins
Another classic. I like this because it is a silly but non-offensive alternative to Cards Against Humanity. You can read a review here.
Come along and play at a Cards or Die event.
2017-03-08 21.51.40

Top 5 Pub Games and A Comparison Graph.

When I read lists on the internet (an activity I spend more time doing than I care to admit) I often wonder what the criteria was. Maybe it’s the teacher in me. (The eagle eyed among you have already spotted the ‘what went well/ even better if’ feedback model that I used on my feedback forms!). You can’t reward anything without having a clear criteria that you have shared. If there’s a top spot to be awarded, we all want to know how the winner got there.
Which brings me to my criteria for the top 5 pub games. And as with all good success criteria, I may have made some of the words up.

1. Portability
2. Low threshold high ceiling (easy to learn but endless levels of possible challenge)
3. Sociability
4. Quality of components
5. Fun

The upshot of this, of course is (aside from the portability measure) you can apply this to any games, for any event and rate them accordingly. If you wanted you could also give numerical scores and make graphs….

1. Mancala

Mancala is a game I stumbled on by accident. I bought a copy of it solely because I liked the box – I took it to the counter, said ‘Is this a game?’ She said ‘Yes, I think so’ and that was it. Sold. A few weeks of showing it to people and asking ‘What’s this?’ and I had discovered Mancala. (Think Fran in Episode 1 of Black Books.

Mancala is so simple; very easy to learn. And packed into it’s own case it is super portable. For the stores at the ends you can use two glasses or you can buy a version with built in stores. (Just make sure the components are still big enough to use.)
As a game for two it is less sociable than some of the others but it is definitely a fun and addictive game. And the fact only two people are playing doesn’t stop people having an opinion on what you’re doing wrong! I left my copy in the pub at past midnight last games night because people couldn’t tear themselves away from it. It’s a permanent fixture for our Abbey games nights.

The components are satisfyingly tactile. In fact they are so appealing that at a recent wedding fayre, despite the fact they look and feel like antique olives, someone tried to eat one which was an awkward moment, as he dried and replaced it!

2. Skull

Skull is a straightforward game of Bluff. It is easy to play but because if relies on bluff and trying to second guess opponents actions, it feels as though it has endless possibilities. It is fun to play with people you know well, or complete strangers so scores high on sociability.
The cards in the game are well made and beautifully illustrated.

Fun levels can be accurately measured by the spontaneous noise all players make when a Skull is revealed. You can of course win by not bidding, but as a fellow player said on Wednesday – ‘That’s the coward’s way out. The worst sort of winning!’
That depends really – winning is, after all, winning!

3. Exploding Kittens

Exploding Kittens is a very entertaining card game in which you try to avoid being exploded whilst trying to get someone else blown up in your place.

The cards are entertainingly illustrated by the oatmeal and of course – as it’s a card game it is designed to be portable.

It can be learnt in about 15 minutes and while it isn’t the most challenging game in the world, there is enough variation to keep you entertained for many happy hours. It is probably my most played game as it appeals to people of all ages, all gaming aptitudes and preferences. I have endlessly bought it as a gift for others and it is probably the game I have taught most so far.


And, you can always add the Imploding Kittens for more challenge and confusion. Just don’t end up wearing the cone of shame!

4. Obama Llama

Last time I got this out at games night, we had a spontaneous moment while we missed Obama. That in itself was a sociable activity, if somewhat tinged with sadness. Then we got on with the ridiculous task of working out what celebrities rhyme with. You roll the dice to determine whether you have to act out your rhyme, give clues or simply describe your allocated celebrity and their rhyme.

It is very entertaining and certainly easy to learn. It doesn’t score highly on having many possible levels to it: there really isn’t any difficulty at all. But, the components are of a decent quality and it is extremely sociable.

5. Travel Downfall or just Downfall

An MB classic. Both sizes of Downfall are a popular choice. It is easy to learn: simply get your counters through in numerical order. If you want to add challenge you can specify that all of one colour must be first or put your counters in, in a random order but still have them come through in numerical order. There is plenty of challenge available. As for quality of components? Considering the game is about 35 years old I’d say we can confidently score that highly. Fun and socialising is often about banter and lively interactions with friends. Downfall is perfect for this.

We spent many happy minutes shouting at each other and reading the same paragraph of the rules to each other whilst emphasising different words. It all ended happily. Well, I went home so I’m assuming it did. Yet another game I had to abandon at the pub.

On reflection, I should add that to my criteria: leavability?
Anyway – just for you. I done a graph.