Regular readers of Geeky Hobbies are probably already well aware of the party game genre. We have reviewed quite a few games from the genre in the past as a lot of companies have tried to cash in on the lucrative genre. After Apples to Apples was released in 1999 every company seemed to want to try and make their own version of the game to try and find their next great hit. Today we are looking at another one of those games aptly named The Game of Things. While The Game of Things is not that good if you use the actual rules, the game can still be a good party game with some massive rule changes.
How to Play The Game of Things
- One player is chosen as the scorekeeper. The scorekeeper takes a score pad sheet.
- Each player takes a pencil and a response pad sheet.
- Shuffle the cards and place them facedown on the table.
- Choose which player will be the first reader.
Playing the Game
The reader chooses a card at random and reads it out loud. All of the players including the reader write a response to the prompt from the card. Once a player has finished with their response they tear off their response, fold it in half, and hand it to the reader. After everyone has submitted their response, the reader will read all of the responses out loud making sure not to indicate who wrote which response.
The player to the left of the reader will then try to guess who wrote one of the responses. The player obviously can’t pick their own and they also can’t guess what response the reader came up with. If the player correctly matches a response to a player, the reader gives the response back to the corresponding player and that player is eliminated from the rest of the round. The player that guessed correctly then is allowed to guess another player’s response.
When a player guesses wrong, the next player clockwise gets to make a guess. All of the non-eliminated players (outside of the reader) will keep guessing until only one player (other than the reader) remains.
Players will score points for the round as follows:
- 1 point for each correct guess
- 2 points for being the last player remaining (other than the reader)
After the score has been recorded, a new round begins with the player to the left of the previous reader becoming the reader for the next round.
End of Game
The game ends when everyone has had a chance to be the reader. The player who has scored the most points wins the game.
My Thoughts on The Game of Things
Generally when I review board games I like to start by talking about the positives and moving onto the negatives later. When talking about The Game of Things though I have to start with the negatives. This is due to the fact that I would highly recommend avoiding the official rules for The Game of Things.
While I admit that this is probably partially due to only playing the game with four players, I think there are a lot of issues with the game’s official rules. Generally these type of games do have issues with score keeping. Since the games are more focused on giving players a way to make their family and friends laugh, usually not a lot of effort is put into figuring out how the game is going to be scored. As they are games though, the designers have to come up with some way to score the game so someone can be declared the winner. For the most part the designers end up with scoring systems that are either mildly annoying to detrimental to the whole game.
This is definitely the case with The Game of Things as the score keeping really distracts from the game itself. Basically the scoring aspect of the game involves players trying to guess which responses the other players came up with. Once every player has written down their response the reader reads all of the responses and the players then take turns guessing what the other players wrote down. Players score points by guessing the other player’s responses and being the last player remaining in the game.
While this is not a great idea for scoring, other games have used similar mechanics and they haven’t been terrible. Most of these other games let all of the players guess all of the other players’ responses though. If the game would have handled the scoring in this manner it could have at least worked as a test of how well you know the other players. The problem with The Game of Things is that players take turns guessing what the other players submitted. One player gets to make a guess and if they are correct they get to eliminate that player from the round before they even get a chance to guess. If the player guesses incorrectly the other players know that player didn’t submit that answer either so it narrows down the options even more. This leads to a pretty high reliance on luck in the game. This is especially bad when you are only playing with four players as you know your own response so you only have to guess the other players responses from three other options.
Another problem I had with the scoring mechanics is the fact that it forces the reader to repeat the responses over and over again until the round is over. With four players it is not that hard to remember all of the responses. With more than four players I could see the responses having to be repeated after every guess. After a while this gets a little annoying and unnecessarily extends the length of the game. Unless the players want to turn the game into a memory game, you are basically forced into repeating the answers since it is too hard to remember them while also trying to figure out which response each player gave.
The final reason why the scoring mechanics are a problem is that it basically forces players to try and respond like they were one of the other players. If all of the players do this it doesn’t matter how well you know the other players as each player is pretending to be another player. With each player pretending to be someone else, the scoring basically becomes a guessing game.
If you don’t really care about who wins this really isn’t that big of problem which the game’s instructions point out. While I never take these type of games seriously, I still have an issue with the scoring mechanics. The scoring mechanics don’t reward players for coming up with funny/original answers which is generally the goal for these type of games. Instead the game rewards players for being able to imitate other players and guessing which player gave each response. Instead of focusing on creating funny answers, players that want to win the game will be focused on trying to imitate another player. Since it distracts players from the game’s best qualities, I honestly think it is best to just ignore the game’s scoring mechanics entirely.
What is really disappointing about the scoring mechanics is the fact that the game had a simple scoring system that has been proven to work in many other party games. I honestly don’t know why The Game of Things didn’t use the “Apples to Apples” scoring system. After playing under the official rules for one quick game my group quickly changed to this system which immediately made the game better. Basically instead of having a reader, we had one player be the judge each round. All of the players (other than the judge) writes down a response and gives them to one of the players who reads them to the judge. The judge gives the card (which is worth a point) to the player who came up with the best/funniest response.
While this scoring system is not perfect either it works a lot better for the game because it emphasizes the best element of the game. Using these rules players are focused on making the best/funniest answers instead of trying to pretend to be someone else. This makes the game significantly more enjoyable as most of these party games are enjoyable because they can make you laugh. These type of games are usually more of an experience than a game. With this type of scoring system it doesn’t detract from the game’s best quality since it rewards the most creative player.
So now that I got the scoring system out of the way I would like to say that The Game of Things actually has the makings of a good party game if you use the alternative scoring mechanics. The main reason why The Game of Things has so much potential is because of the prompts themselves. While some of the prompts are better than others, for the most part they are quite strong. What I like about the prompts is that they are generic enough that everyone should be able to come up with a response while giving players plenty of opportunities to create a funny response. I honestly think The Game of Things has some of the better prompts that I have seen from these type of party games.
With the prompts being quite strong it actually leads to plenty of opportunities for humor. The Game of Things is obviously going to be better with more creative people. For the most part though the prompts are good enough that as long as people don’t take the game too seriously they should still be able to come up with some funny responses. The Game of Things succeeds at setting up players to create funny responses. There were plenty of times in the game where our group laughed quite a bit. I think the best response from our game was as follows: Something you shouldn’t teach your parrot to say-Bird, Bird, Bird is the word.
While I wouldn’t necessarily consider this a problem, I would recommend trying to find more then four players for The Game of Things. As I have already mentioned if you plan on using the game’s official rules, they work terribly with only four players. Even if you play the game with the alternative rules, I think the game would be better with more players. The game is fine with four players but as a party game I just think it would be more enjoyable with more players. The game probably needs an upper limit though because the game otherwise might drag on for too long.
Finally I want to touch on the game’s components. For a Parker Brothers game I have to admit that I was actually quite surprised by the component quality of The Game of Things. The game only comes with cards, sheets of paper and pencils but the game does quite a bit with those few components. First I have to commend the game on the number of cards that are included. The game comes with 300 cards which gives players plenty of prompts. For example you could play over 75 four player games (using the official rules) before having to repeat any cards. The prompts are good enough that I don’t really see a problem with repeating them every so often. I also have to give the game credit for including plenty of response sheets. I really like that the game uses sheets that tear apart which allow you to play ten rounds with each response sheet. Finally while unnecessary I have always been a fan of games that use wood boxes.
Should You Buy The Game of Things?
The Game of Things is an interesting game. I found the normal rules for the game to be pretty flawed. Most of my problems with the game come from the scoring mechanics. They reward players for guessing what responses the other players came up with which leads players to try to write responses that the other players would normally come up with. The mechanics are distracting to the point where I would throw them out and use your own scoring mechanics. This is where the game actually has the potential to be a good game. If instead of rewarding players for guessing which responses the other players gave you reward players for creating funny/creative answers, the game is actually quite enjoyable. The game includes a lot of prompts and the prompts are actually quite good. With the right group you can get a lot of laughs out of The Game of Things.
Basically if you don’t really care for these type of party games I don’t see The Game of Things being for you. If you like these type of party games, The Game of Things has a good framework if you are willing to implement your own scoring mechanics. If you don’t mind changing up the rules it would probably be worth picking up The Game of Things.