Today I am looking at a plank competition. Those that think that I am talking about woodworking or the fad of planking are going to be disappointed as that is not at all what I am looking at today. Instead I am talking about a board (plank) game (competition). Now some of you may be thinking that I just lost my mind, but the opening was meant to illustrate the gameplay for today’s board game AKA: Also Known As. Released last year AKA: Also Known As is a board game where you are trying to figure out what a category and clue could also be known as. Basically you are given a clue wrote in an unorthodox way and you have to figure out what it is referring to. When we received a review copy of AKA: Also Known As from Endless Games I was really curious about the game as this actually sounds like a really interesting premise for a party game. The game may have some minor issues, but AKA: Also Known As is a unique take on your typical party game.
We would like to thank Endless Games for the review copy of AKA: Also Known As used for this review. Other than receiving the review copy we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation. Receiving the review copy had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.
How to Play AKA: Also Known As
- One player is chosen to be the host (this should rotate between games). The rest of the players will divide into two teams.
- Place the two decks of cards face down on the table.
To begin the main round the host will draw one of the “Main Round” cards. The host will read out the card’s category and will then reveal the AKA/Also Known As clue.
When a player thinks they know the answer that the word/phrase is referring to they will raise their hand. If the player is correct they will score one point for their team. If they are incorrect the other team gets a chance to answer. Before answering the players on the second team can talk over their answer. If they are correct they will score one point. If neither team is right the host will reveal the correct answer and neither team will score a point.
The host will then draw another card and reveal the category and AKA clue. This continues until one of the teams score five points.
At the beginning of the final round all of the scores are reset to zero. The host will draw two cards from the “Final Round” deck and reveal the categories to the players. The team that won the first round will get to choose which category they will play leaving the other category for the other team.
The losing team will play first. Each card in this round will feature seven answers that fit the main category. The host will turn over the timer and begin by giving the clue for the first answer. All of the players on the current team can answer. The team can shout out as many answers as they want as there is no penalty for incorrect guesses. When the team guesses correctly they will score one point and the host will move onto the next clue.
At any time the team can choose to pass and the host will move onto the next clue. If the players get through all seven clues and still have time left they can return to the clues that they skipped.
When the timer runs out the team’s turn ends. The team that won the main round will then get to take their turn.
After both teams have taken their turns their scores in the final round are compared. The team that scored the most points will win. If there is a tie the game will remain tied or the teams can play another game to break the tie.
My Thoughts on AKA: Also Known As
Heading into AKA: Also Known As I didn’t know what to expect. The premise behind the game seemed pretty interesting. Basically the game gives you a category and a clue that describes something. The catch is that these clues are not always straightforward. Instead of giving you a simple definition or a description of the object the game decides to go about it in a more roundabout way. To explain further let me give you an example from the game. The category is “inventors” and the clue is “the correct siblings”. The solution is the wright brothers (correct-right/wright, siblings-brothers). This is one of the ways that the cards are constructed. Other than relying on wordplay, cards can also use puns or other roundabout ways of describing something.
While AKA: Also Known As shares a lot in common with your typical party/game show, I actually liked the game more than I was expecting. I attribute a lot of this to the cards themselves. AKA: Also Known As was a game that was going to live or die based on its cards. If the clues were bad the game was going to fall flat. Some of the cards are duds, but I would say that a large majority of the clues are pretty good. Most of the clues are really clever where you will get that aha moment once you figure them out. Some you will figure out right away while others may take some time to figure out. Even if you can’t figure them out when you hear the answer you will likely wonder why you couldn’t come up with the answer.
Due to the cards being well designed I actually had quite a bit of fun with AKA: Also Known As. The gameplay is similar to many party games. The players divide into two teams and players race to try and answer the question first. How the clues are designed though really makes the game. The clues make the game rely more on thinking creatively than knowing more than the other players. Outside of the rare card all of the players have likely heard of the answer. The key to the game is trying to figure out the trick to the clue. These force players to think outside of the box which is pretty fun. These might not appeal to all players, but I had quite a bit of fun trying to figure out the clues.
In addition to the clever cards I thought AKA: Also Known As succeeded at being really easy to play. The game’s rules are really straightforward. Outside of adjusting to how the clues are designed there isn’t anything to the game that you can’t learn almost immediately. AKA: Also Known As can literally be taught in just a couple minutes. This makes the game something that can appeal to people that rarely play board games. As for the age recommendation of 12+ I think it has more to do with the clues/answers than the gameplay. Kids younger than twelve shouldn’t have any trouble with the game’s rules. Younger children may have issues figuring out the clues or even being familiar with the answers though. I am guessing this is the main reason that the game has the recommended age of 12+.
AKA: Also Known As’ gameplay is broken down into two rounds. In the main round the two teams compete to try and give the answer first. This basically plays like your typical game show and works well. While raising your hand will help break ties, our group basically ditched this rule as it was just as easy to say the answer out loud once you came up with it. For some clues only one player was able to come up with the answer. In many cases though it was a race to see which player would come up with the answer first.
Otherwise there is the final round. The main mechanic is the same as you are still trying to guess answers based on the quirky clues. In this round though teams play by themselves and are given a card featuring seven different answers that fit the same category. The team is given 60 seconds to try and solve as many of the clues as they can. While playing the final round it really felt like playing a bonus round in a game show. It is fun trying to answer as many of the clues as you can within a time limit. This is easier said than done though because based on our experience you will rarely be able to answer all seven within 60 seconds.
On their own I actually really liked both rounds in AKA: Also Known As. While they share the same main mechanic, they also play quite a bit differently. The main problem that I had with AKA: Also Known As is the transition between the two rounds. Basically the first team to acquire five points in the first round wins an advantage in the final round. The points earned don’t transfer over so it doesn’t matter if you win by one or five points. The advantage you receive is that you get to choose your category and the other team’s category. You also get to play second so you know how many points you need to score.
In some ways this advantage does help as you can pick a category that you are better at or give the other team a category that they don’t know. In most cases this gives you an advantage as knowing the category better gives you a better idea of what the potential answers could be. This doesn’t always give you an advantage though. This is because your success also depends on the clues that are given. You could be better at a category and yet that category could have bad clues. Meanwhile there could be a category that you barely know that has really obvious clues.
The main problem with the transition between the two rounds though is that in many games the first round will be completely pointless. You could dominate the other team in the main round and then get a bad category in the final round and lose. The game should have found some way to put more weight on the main round. I honestly think the final round should have stayed the same except that you add your score from the main round to get your final score. Usually the two teams will score about the same number of points in the main round which means the team winning the main round will only have a one or two point lead heading into the final round. This would give the team that won the main round a pretty big advantage as the lead could only be overcome by the other team doing significantly better in the final round. Otherwise I could see creating some sort of house rule combining multiple main and final rounds with the team that scores more points winning the game.
The main reason I am curious about a house rule combining multiple main and final rounds is because I think the game is too short following the official rules. Unless players really struggle at figuring out the answers most games will only take 5-10 minutes. While this makes AKA: Also Known As a good filler game, I think the game would have benefited from being a little longer. The simplest way of extending the game is to just make players score more points in the main round. I think the total should be increased to at least ten points if not higher. I am also curious how a house rule where you play multiple main and final rounds would turn out. This is not a big problem as you can easily just play several games back to back and play a best of x number of games.
As for AKA: Also Known As’ components there are both positives and negatives. In addition to the cards the game includes a dry erase board and marker, and a sand timer. These are basically what you would expect. The cards use kind of a basic style, but it works for the game. The game also includes quite a few cards as there are 324 main round cards and 162 final round cards. This is quite a few cards. The problem is that you play through 5-10+ main round cards per game and two final round cards. Thus you will play through all of the cards pretty quickly. Due to how the cards are designed once you use one of them you will know the answer to the clue. Therefore you need to take a long enough break between playing the same cards so you can forget the answers.
I found some of the cards to be a little time sensitive as well. Some of the cards in the game are designed around current events or things that are currently popular. These are likely not going to age all that well. In particular one of the cards that we encountered will likely make little sense in just a couple years. This makes me a little worried about how long the game will last before it becomes somewhat outdated. Most of the cards don’t have this problem, but there will be some cards that won’t work nearly as well in the future.
Should You Buy AKA: Also Known As?
I was curious when I first saw AKA: Also Known As since the game’s premise was pretty interesting. A game built around trying to decipher unusual clues sounded like it could make for a fun little party game. The clues are what truly make AKA: Also Known As. The game really feeds off the premise of utilizing clues that come out of left field. The clues are pretty clever at times which leads to some satisfying gameplay as you figure out what the clue was trying to reference. These cards are combined with a game that is really easy to play that also play really quickly (a little too quickly in my opinion). The game features two different rounds which are fun in their own regard even though there are issues when transferring from one to the other. Basically the main round becomes almost pointless. Other than this issue the biggest problem with the game is that I just wish it had more cards as you can play through the cards pretty quickly.
My recommendation for AKA: Also Known As comes down to your thoughts on the premise. If you think the idea of trying to decipher quirky clues sounds fun I think you should enjoy AKA: Also Known As and should consider picking it up.
Buy AKA: Also Known As online: Amazon