Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Review: North Star Games

Ho Ho Ho!  We're in the thick of the holiday season right now and you're probably either hosting or will be attending a party or two in the next few weeks.  Recently the crew received a party game to review and you may want to have it on hand to play with friends and family.

Wits & Wagers Family is really a junior edition of the award winning Wits & Wagers game by North Star Games.  The scoring is simplified, the questions have more of a kid appeal, but it can still be played by all.  "It's good for ages 8 to senile," as my mother put it.  There are five different colored sets of pieces, but you can play as teams so the number of people playing is unlimited.

The rules are easy to pick up:  A question with a numerical answer is read aloud.  Each person (or team) writes their answer on a dry erase board and the answers are placed on a table in order from smallest to largest--there is a preprinted default card with a 1 on it.  Then each person or team has a large and small playing piece, called a meeple, that they place on the card they believe has the closest to the correct answer without going over.  You can place them both on your own card or split them up and put them on separate cards to improve your scoring chances.

The person who wrote the winning answer (closest without going over) scores one point.  Small meeples on the winning card score one point, large meeple score two.  The maximum anyone can score in one round is 4 points.  The winner is the first to reach 15 points.

Unlike most trivia games, you're really NOT supposed to know the answers to the question.  The fun comes in the guessing and seeing how diverse the answers can be.  In fact, we "threw out" the questions with obvious answers like "How many teaspoons in a tablespoon."   Sometimes in addition to discussing the actual answer we mused on who sat around investigating the answer (who really thought up the one about how many tennis balls you can fit in a dog's mouth?)     We're not really up on pop culture in our family so some questions may be more obvious to you than us (eg. How many books are in the Lemony Snicket series?)   Once we were asked the height of the world's tallest roller coaster.  Schnickelfritz, who wants to build an amusement park called Seven Flags when he grows up knew exactly.  When he scored four points in that round he declared Wits & Wagers "The best game ever."

The game only comes with 150 questions.  This may be enough if you only pull the game out for occasional parties.  If you want it to be a regular in your family game night line up like we did, you may purchase the expansion pack (this is really for the original Wits & Wagers edition so the questions may be over kids' heads).  As a homeschooler, I can think up dozens of sources to write my own questions.  Pull out a history book--When was the Fall of Rome?   How many casualties at the Battle of Gettysburg?  Perhaps you prefer science--What is the diameter of the largest eagle's nest?  What percentage of hatched sea turtles make it to the ocean?   I'm certainly not touting this as an educational game, but it could be fun to write questions throughout the school year and then "test" their retention level with a game at year end.

Wits & Wagers Familyretails for $19.99.   North Star's website is being updated to help you find retailers near you and is currently directing visitors to Target's website for purshases.  The expansion pack is $14.99 for 700 additional questions.  

You can see what my fellow Homeschool Crewmates think of  Wits & Wagers Family game by clicking here.
Disclaimer: I received a free Wits & Wagers Family game for the purpose of completing this review.  I received no other compensation for my honest opinion.

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