I Love My Trivia, But I Love Lying Even More!

Our mission – (accepting was not negotiable) was to come up with a concept for a board game and develop it to prototype stage. Easy right? Yes – if you are Ben and grew up in a family playing a lot of games, with a competitive mother who didn’t like to lose and other siblings all vying for the position of winner, a healthy amount of lying and cheating, and voila, you have the recipe for our game ‘That’s Bullshit’! Based loosely around Trivial Pursuit, it is a game where the winner is the player with the best general knowledge coupled with the ability to lie convincingly. Ben, one of the team working on this crazy concept, declared at our last meeting, “I love my trivia, but I love bullshiting even more!”. Perfect for our game.

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Chris Haney with a Trivial Pursuit prototype                                         Image: dailymail.co.uk

Trivial Pursuit was developed on December 15 1979, by a couple of Canadian guys after they couldn’t find all the pieces for their Scrabble board and decided to make their own game. By 2004, Chris Haney and Scott Abbott, (the games designers) had become like board game rock stars with an astounding 88 million games selling worldwide prompting its listing in the “Games Hall of Fame”. Trivial Pursuit made the pursuit of knowledge popular and accessible to the whole family. The success of the game depended upon all the players having their own special areas of expertise thus igniting the competitive tensions between family members. For example, dad might be stronger at the geography questions, whilst mum excelled at art and english and the kids at pop culture.

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Screenshot from http://www.hasbro.com

Trivial Bullshit draws upon the successful formula of Trivial Pursuit but mixes it up by adding the concept of lying in order to win points. This references family arguments in competitive games over what is the correct answer, however the player whose turn it is has to guess which of the other player’s is telling the truth. Unless of course, they know the correct answer and they then win the point.

In this week’s seminar, we made a mockup of That’s Bullshit and we are happy to report that the game played out well with whoppers circulating wildly. This was balanced out with all players strongly arguing their points raising the decibels in the classroom quite considerably.

Dissecting Takenoko-Like Rat Dissection-Same But Much More Enjoyable!

Image: Asmodee – us

This is my first experience of Takenoko and I am happy to announce – probably not my last! One does not often associate game playing with serious academic study (or rat dissection for that matter) however, as part of our subject for this session, I have been asked to ‘dissect’ and comment on a board game, focusing on one particular aspect. Having carefully selected Takenoko from our lecturer’s beloved game collection, myself and three other students sat down to learn and play. My board games experience (I am ashamed to say) is extremely scant thus hindering my ability to traverse the learning curve tightrope which in the case of Takenoko is quite difficult. It is a competitive game designed by Antoine Bauza and published by Asmodee, and aside from its initial complexity, is beautifully crafted.

Takenoko instruction manual is a comic strip – Image boardgamequest.com

Bauza’s love for everything Japanese which began in his boyhood with Manga, flows through Takenoko’s narrative and its beautifully crafted components.  The Japanese thematic is represented throughout the game, beginning with a comic strip which tells the story of the Chinese emperor giving the giant panda as a gift to the Japanese emperor. A theme, according to Boardgames.com,“refers to the subject matter the game is built around” which in Takenoko’s case is an animal, a giant panda, and a gardener whose task is to keep the giant panda fed. Takenoko is a light Euro game which is fun and family orientated with its animal and gardening themes being played out with the players being able to tend to the Panda by feeding it (each player has a Panda stomach on their board mat) and the bamboo by growing it. Playing the game is a delight as the random pattern of visually appealing tiles takes shape, the bamboo ‘grows’ and the panda moves around the board simultaneously eating and hiding.

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Starting play showing beautifully designed tiles and play mats – Author’s image.
Takenoko in progress showing ‘growing’ bamboo and panda tummies on player’s individual board mats

Having watched Antoine Bauza interviewed, one is left with no doubt that he just wants players, above  all, to enjoy the games he’s creates. Dave Adams (The Core Mechanic) tells us, for Bauza, game making is an intuitive process where “he genuinely feels like he’s making games that he loves or he would love to play – so there is a sense of going with your gut with Antoine”. He goes on to say that Antoine always starts with a theme which he wants to produce and build and create over time, so all his games are strongly thematic. For me, the game was certainly a winner and one that I would like to play again in the not too distant future.