Board Game Review: Geek Out!
Do you like trivia? Do you consider yourself good at trivia? Not just good, but superbly excellent kind of guy or gal who goes to wing bars and Mellow Mushroom and completely dominates trivia night? Well, you might be the kind of person Geek Out! is marketing towards.
I am not.
What is It?
This game is 89 parts knowledge, 10 parts bluffing, and about 1 part stupid, dumb luck. It really all depends on who you're playing with.
As a trivia game, everyone will compete to have an answer better than everyone else's. Most trivia games it's a matter of speed. With Geek Out! it's a matter how much (or how many depending).
A person will then roll the multi-colored die to begin their turn. They will then drawing the appropriate card. Whatever upright color the die holds determines the category and question on the card for the group. For example, the question is 'Name 4 Batman Villains.' If the person who began this turn thinks they can answer the question, they say so. The next person in clockwise order may decide they can't and will say pass. The next person, however, may think they know more and say, "I can name 6!" The question will go around the group of players like an auction with the number ever increasing. Once everyone but one person has passed, that person must answer their latest boast.
If that person successfully answers the question with the amount they promised, they gain that card and thus, a point. If a person finds themselves unable to answer, they take a marker that means they lose 2 points.
The idea behind the bluffing, as you might surmise on your own, is to force other boastful players to get out of their comfort zone. Timmy over here might think he knows 12 Batman villains but Kevin may boast 13 just to get Timmy to go higher. Timmy might take the bait and fail without properly considering how many he can name. Or, Timmy might call the bluff and Kevin is stuck with naming 13. This is (reportively) really great when you have a group of people of similar knowledge/experience in relation to the subject matter.
However, when I played this with friends for the first (and last) time, many people kept passing, some even passing every turn. We played without the die, allowing people to pick a question they could actually answer. People could bluff freely when they don't know the answers, taking markers that won't matter when they won't get points anyways. That's not fun. At least, that's not what I consider to be fun.
Why is this Good?
In all honesty it's a trivia game, and all trivia games have their own appeal. Players want to compete against their friends via intellectual knowledge in addition to the simple appeal of having an answer for said question. Geek Out! is obviously targeting to the nerds, geeks, and so forth to describe those who have an interest in a myriad of similar interests such as video games, comics, fantasy and sci fi shows, movies, and so on. And while it does this, so many of the questions are so specific that I, a self-proclaimed geek in many regards (as evidence, I point to the fact I'm writing a review on a board game) have experienced more than a comfortable amount of trouble in answering some of these cards.
I can see this game being good. Maybe with a group of friends, all self-professed nerds who jump at the chance to argue rhetoric over subjects they're die hard fans of. I mean, there are some questions that everyone can get competitive about, such as name X amount of Batman villains. You don't necessarily have to be a fan of the Batman comics in order to throw in your bet. Still, if it's not a group of similar people with similar interest, you'll have that one guy who's seen only the Christopher Nolan movies versus the girl who's been collecting the Batman comics since she was little.
Maybe this game should not be considered a game but a supply box of raw materials. Take what you can from it, organize the cards in a way you know a specific group will benefit the most from it. Despite being a trivia game, it's really not meant to just be picked up and played.
Also, screw the die. Unless the people you're playing with are super adaptable and can answer every question with ease on most of the cards, that die will force someone to answer something they don't know. Making it to where one person can choose a question they feel most comfortable with is a great equalizer, as everyone gets to pick the question on their turn while everyone varies in their ability to answer it.
Better yet, maybe just keep the questions, screw the die, but ignore the number on the card. It's still pretty insanely specific, but if somebody knows a single Batman villain, they can contribute that much and the number can rise from there. I'm not saying all cards require a large number in order to answer its base requirement, but some do and it's annoying.
Expansions/ Different Themes
I believe that there are also a variety of different linked games, all which focus on a different subject. While Geek Out! focuses on typically nerdy stuff, Pop Culture Geek Out focuses on, you guessed it, famous firefighters in history.
I'm sorry, I just didn't like the game. I won the single time we played, but numerous times other people (myself included) voiced frustration that we couldn't give a single answer to one of the questions on the card, let alone the requirement. I feel like this game requires a certain elite kind of geek to enjoy it, and I guess I don't feel as though I'm 100% up to the task.
For a change....
Have I killed your interest in this game?
- A party game where people compete to best answer a question statistically
- The questions can often be really hard
- Requires a very select group of people to play this competitively; you can bring this out in an eclectic group of people and expect the game to progress smoothly
- There are other expansions with different focuses so if 'Traditional Geekiness' isn't your thing (aside from questions of celebrity babies or Name X amount of Beyonce songs), you can check out one of the others
- For the reasons said above, I can't really recommend this game
I'm working on reviewing a few more non-traditional (ie. not Battleship, Monopoly, and the like) board games but I've only got another micro game called One Night Ultimate Werewolf which is like your card games Mafia or Werewolf where everyone gets a special ability. By the way, it's a fantastic game for parties.
Or maybe you enjoy deck building? Have about a fantastic game utilizing Marvel Comics properties in Legendary: Marvel Deck Building Game. Coming off the idea of games where everyone works together against the board, consider Pandemic, a wholly original game where you fight to stop the world from being overcome with disease that's randomized nearly every game.
I've already written a considerable bit of material for the card game Munchkin, a massive selection of games that parodies various genres in a card based D&D style play full of backstabbing and manipulating your friends just to get ahead. It also has the options of tons of Custom Cards, so if you're interested in that, I've got more than a handful of cards that can spice up your games.