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.

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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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?
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In which I think about gaming with my elders and review Cortex.

I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again – playing games is good for you; for your social skills and keeping your brain active. In the coming weeks I will be demonstrating the health and social benefits of games in a local retirement home. (By that I mean hanging out and playing games but it’s totally justified and worthy). I’m also hoping to re-learn all those card games I used to know and love but have since forgotten.
This excerpt from a report on Bradfield Residential Home which was rated outstanding by The Care Quality Commission (CQC) spells out the importance of activities in Care Homes:
“A wide range of activities were available, based on people’s suggestions and requests, which people’s family and friends were invited to take part in. Spontaneous activities took place and entertainment was provided… People were supported to do what they wanted when they wanted. People led a fulfilled and meaningful life. Staff spent quality time with people to give them emotional support and comfort. Staff reminisced with people about their life and discussed what was happening in the world.”
Board games fill me with a warm sense of nostalgia, the sight of a vintage MB box takes me straight back to my childhood. Who better to reminisce with than the generation who, after much careful deliberation, chose those very games and played them with their own children and grandchildren?
What could be more sociable than sitting round a board working out how to thrash your opponents? And for a generation who don’t while away their days watching cat videos on facebook, (I’ve included a short one just for you though) board and card games are a perfect way of forgetting about worldly troubles. And let’s face it there’s a lot of those about.
Described as ‘a brain-busting card game’ by its creators, Cortex is definitely coming with me on my visits. The aim of the game is to build a brain by collecting sets of challenge cards. The cards test you on memory, co-ordination, perception, observation, reasoning and touch.
Pictured here, my fragmented brain (before) and my complete brain (after the restorative effects of Cortex).
The touch challenge is ingenious and one that I thought was going to be easy. Turns out that distinguishing a zebra from a teddy bear using only touch is quite tricky.
Spotting the same image repeated and memorising the images on the card are my easiest challenges and these are the cards I find most visually pleasing. I love the retro style prints so maybe that makes it easier for me.
But my nemesis is this chirpy looking guy:
He expects me to label my hands (left is blue, right is red) and number my fingers 1-5. His demands don’t end there though- next I have to match the fingers as shown on his annoyingly cheerful face. I can sometimes co-ordinate myself before my opponent. Rarely, I can put the correctly numbered fingers on the correct part of my face – but never with my tongue still in my mouth. And always in painful slow motion. Most often I just sit staring at my hands in a kind of stupefied panic.
It takes about 15 minutes or less to play a game and up to 6 people can play. Looking forward to sharing my love for this game and possibly even mastering my co-ordination. I’ll let you know how that goes…