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Party Game Review: Wits & Wagers

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Trivia is one of the most popular genres of party games. There are those who love trivia itself, and then there are those competitive players who enjoy trouncing others based on their superior levels of knowledge. A problem occurs, however, when a party includes more than just trivia enthusiasts. Those folks might like a friendly game of learning or light competition, but when it gets to the crazy “How could you not know that!” condemnations, trivia is not so fun anymore. So what happens when you take the all-or-nothing out of trivia and replace it with something that never gets old, gambling?

Wits & Wagers from North Star Games turns the genre of trivia on its head. Rather than receiving points for answering obscure questions, players win by betting on the best answer given by their peers. It is still a trivia game where knowing the answer will give an advantage, but there is no distinct disadvantage to not being able to recall any random facts.

Wits & Wagers comes with a set of cards bearing seven questions each, gambling chips, and a felt mat where the bets are placed. Every player receives a dry-erase card for answers, a marker, and two Wager Chips. The questions in W&W all come in numeric form, such as “In feet, how tall was the tallest giraffe ever recorded?” and “In what year did MTV play its first music video?” The questions are overall very hard, meaning that most answers will likely be guesses. Players all write their answers on their cards, which are then placed on the mat with the middle value in the middle and the lower and higher guesses on the ends, correlating with the higher pay-outs.

Players then place bets on the answers. A number of strategies can come into play; the simplest is knowing the right answer and placing both Wager Chips on it. Another strategy might be knowing that some smarty-pants knows the answer and betting on his or her card. Other strategies could be making a humble bet toward the middle of the answers with one Chip and using the other for a wild, pays 6-to-1 guess with the other. It is a gamble, after all.

A sand-timer keeps the game moving and ends the betting round. Then, the answer is read, cheers and groans are made, and then comes the Payout round. Wager Chips are themselves worth one point, so the Pays 3-to-1 slot would give the player back his or her Wager Chip as well as three additional chips. Losing players always receive their original Wager Chips so that they may continue in the game. As rounds go on, players may make bigger and bigger wagers, increasing the tension as well as the thrills of victory and the agonies of defeat. The game ends after the seven questions on the card are done, with the player with the most points as the winner.

Wits & Wagers is a game for four to 20 players, ages 10 and up, and available for purchase at Target, Toys-r-Us, and Meijer. It is more fun with more people, and suitable for teams as people can argue about which chip should go where, giving a whole new element to the game. Rounds are quick, and the whole game is playable within a half hour, making it suitable for a party where people might want to do different games. On the other hand, it might be so fun folks want to play it again. Even when the 700 included questions have been read, an expansion pack can keep the fun going on and on.

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About Jeff Provine

Jeff Provine is a Composition professor, novelist, cartoonist, and traveler of three continents. His latest book is a collection of local ghost legends, Campus Ghosts of Norman, Oklahoma.