How to Play
To be the first player to get rid of all of your cards.
Lay out the game board. The dealer shuffles the cards and deals out all of the cards to the players. If some players end up with more cards than other players that is fine. The player to the left of the dealer starts.
Each player will be assigned a family member that they will be forced to play during their turn. The first player will have to play Grandpas, the second player Grandmas, and so on moving to the right along the game board. After the Baby space play returns to the Grandpa space. Players may play at max two cards during their turn face down to the corresponding space on the game board. After playing the card(s) the player announces how many of what family member they ended up playing. For example a player could say “two Grandpas” if they played two cards to the Grandpa space. If the player is bluffing they would still say “two Grandpas.”
If players have cards for their assigned family member, they can play them without fear of being penalized. If they either don’t have any cards for the current family member or the player decides to bluff for another reason, they can play cards that don’t match the current family member. Playing non-matching cards opens a player up to a penalty if another player catches them bluffing.
If a player gets a Nosey Neighbor card, the only way to get rid of it is to bluff it as another family member.
Bluffing And The Nosey Neighbor Challenge
After a player has played card(s) to the board, any of the other players can challenge them if they think they played one or two cards that did not match the family member that they were supposed to play. If a player is challenged and they were bluffing, the player that bluffed is forced to take the penalty. If the player was telling the truth, the challenging player is forced to take the penalty.
In Nosey Neighbor the penalty for either wrongly accusing another player or being caught bluffing is to take cards from the board into their hand. The penalized player has to take all of the cards on the space that was challenged as well as all of the cards on any spaces to the right. For example a penalty on the Grandpa space would require the player to take all of the cards on the board. A penalty on the Brother space would require a player to take all of the cards on the Brother, Sister, and Baby spaces.
After a challenge the next player will be required to play cards on the next space on the game board.
End of Game
Play continues until a player plays their last card. The last card played has to actually match the family member that it is played on since the other players will always challenge the card that was played and if it was a bluff, that player will be penalized.
We at Geeky Hobbies have played several bluffing games in the past. On this site we have looked at two bluffing games in particular: Stone Soup and Hooey. While Stone Soup was a decent game, Hooey was bad due to some poor rule choices. The problem with most bluffing games is that they all have the same fatal flaws which keeps them from being anything more than an average game at best.
It is too bad since I think the bluffing genre could make some really good games like Sheriff of Nottingham (which I unfortunately have yet to play). Because I see the potential in the genre I always like to try out a new bluffing game when I can find one for cheap. This brings us to the 1981 Milton Bradley game Nosey Neighbor. While trying to make a family friendly bluffing game, Nosey Neighbor fails due to some fatal flaws.
The Never Ending Loop
The biggest problem with most bluffing games is that the game’s mechanics will force the players into bluffing. This in itself is not a terrible idea since some people might choose to never bluff unless they are forced to. The problem with forced bluffing are the situations where one player is forced to bluff and at least one of the players know they can’t have the cards that they claim they have. This problem persists in Nosey Neighbor.
Let me give you an example from the game I played. At one point due to being forced to bluff I ended up having all four Grandpa cards. At this point no other players could bluff Grandpa cards because I had all of them. So the next time around the board a player was forced to try to bluff a Grandpa card which I called them on since they couldn’t have owned one. So they ended up having to take all of the cards from the board. The next time around the board it is my turn to play Grandpa cards. Since I have all four everyone knows that I am not bluffing when I play two (you can only play two cards per turn). The next time around the board and once again I know the player has to be bluffing since I own two of the Grandpa cards and the other two cards are still on the board. This happens again on the next turn to play Grandpa cards. With a good memory you could use this for several more turns around the board in order to catch players bluffing.
This leads to the biggest problem with Nosey Neighbor and so many other bluffing games. Due to this flaw in the game, the game becomes an exercise of passing cards around the table. A player will make progress getting rid of cards from their hand. They will then run into a situation where they are forced to bluff. Since the other players know they are bluffing, that player will have to pick up a bunch of cards and the process continues again.
Nosey Neighbor tries to fix this issue. I believe the main reason the game included the rule that you can only play up to two cards on your turn is to try and keep the sets of cards separated to help prevent situations like the Grandpa situation I explained earlier. Unfortunately it doesn’t really work since multiple players ended up having four cards of the same set. It also kind of sucks when you have four of the same type of card and you have to either bluff some of the cards or you need to wait until the next time that set comes up for you to play the rest of the cards.
Unfortunately there really isn’t a way to fix this flaw. If you let players just play cards wherever they want, very few people would actually bluff. Players would just play cards on the right spaces in order to prevent being caught bluffing. Its too bad a bluffing game like this couldn’t come up with a way to encourage bluffing without forcing it upon the players.
May Luck Be With You
The only way to actually win the game is to be lucky. You may occasionally be able to bluff a card but you can’t count on that for long. Probably at least 75% of bluffing attempts are caught. Since you really can’t bluff, the winner of the game will be determined by who ends up getting cards that work with the next people that they have to play. I ended up winning the game since my last two sets of cards just so happened to be the next two sets of cards that I had to play. This is how every game of Nosey Neighbor will likely end.
Luck also comes into play based on which person you end up being forced to bluff on. Since you are likely going to get caught, you hope these situations occur as far to the right on the game board as possible since you will have less cards to pick up. While I thought it was interesting that you picked up a different number of cards based on where on the board you were caught, I didn’t find it to be particularly fair. Since everyone will eventually be forced to bluff a card that everyone knows they don’t have, everyone will be forced to take cards from the board. Some players will get lucky and only have to take a couple cards while others will have to take every single card on the game board.
Players can also get stuck with a Nosey Neighbor card. While it is possible to bluff the card, it makes it really hard on the player who ends up getting one. Since it can never be played without bluffing, you are pretty much stuck with it unless you can successfully bluff it.
- The artwork in general is solid. I did find the woman on the Nosey Neighbor card to be kind of creepy especially since she is peeking through the peep hole of her neighbor’s door.
- Games of Nosey Neighbor could take forever to complete. The only way a player will ever win the game is if they are lucky enough to have their last cards match the next people that they have to play. Otherwise they will get caught bluffing and the game will continue. Even if the game ends quickly, this makes the game feel like it drags on for far too long.
- While the game is seriously flawed it could work well with younger children since it is very easy to play.
Unfortunately Nosey Neighbor falls into the same trap as too many other bluffing games. Players are likely going to get stuck in a pattern where one player makes some progress but then is forced to bluff a card that all of the other players know that they don’t currently have. This process repeats until one player is lucky enough that their turn lands on the sets corresponding to the cards that they are currently holding.
Due to this fatal flaw I have trouble recommending Nosey Neighbor to anyone. The game is flawed and there are better bluffing games out there. If you have fond memories of the game from when you were young or you can get past the fatal flaw of the game, you could maybe get some enjoyment out of the game. I wouldn’t recommend Nosey Neighbor to anyone else though.