As the years go on game nights can get more and more challenging. Every Saturday I join a group of anywhere from six to nine adults for barbeques in the warm months and board games during the cold ones. This event has taken place nearly every single weekend for the last four years with each involved party contributing any number of new games in an effort to keep it interesting…after all, with each get-together lasting 6-12 hours there’s only so long certain games can be played before they have to be shelved for a while until we forget about them and then break them back out a year or so later. As a result of this lengthy playing we have found ourselves in a constant search for fun games that can be played by large groups of people and, preferably, that can be played many times over without repeating ourselves too much.
The most recent acquisition to the collection is Smart Ass, a fun little trivia game we’ve been playing for three weekends now and have gotten quite a lot of enjoyment out of them. The object is simple…get your piece (we call it a Fat Ass for its obvious shape that lends to the name) from the beginning of the trail to the end by answering questions.
We start with eight pieces, 490 cards, a die with colors on each side and a die with numbers on each side. Situate all pieces that will be used on the “start” square. The oldest player rolls the color die which determines whether a “What am I?”, “Who am I?” or “Where am I?” card will be read and then reads the top card from the pile that corresponds with the color rolled. Each card has ten clues which the reader says one at a time while all other players attempt to answer…be careful! You only have one guess per question, if you guess wrong you’re out of luck this round. Whoever answers correctly (or the reader if no one does) rolls the number die and moves that many spaces; play proceeds counter-clockwise from the reader.
Of course there are some twists…it’s not a fun game without them! There are three spaces that will interrupt your trek to the end…the first is the Kick Ass space that will set you back three spaces whenever you land on it (this one can really get frustrating at times!), next is the Dumb Ass space that renders the player silent for the next question (and of course that next question never fails to be one you know right off the bat!) and third is the Hard Ass space which earns the player a question from the red-backed cards that only that person can answer, if answered correctly the player gets to roll the die again and advance a second time.
I love trivia games…my favorite part of high school was my four-year participation in the Academic Challenge team (ours was very good, if I do say so myself) and the yearly Knowledge Master tournaments that I looked forward to with eagerness. Now that I am in no school at all I’ve yearned for the games like Trivial Pursuit or any chance to test my knowledge in my areas of interest…unfortunately, half of our little group are not quite so academic and get frustrated quickly with such games. We weren’t sure if Smart Ass would be the way to go but it does say right on the box that anyone can play so we decided to give it a shot.
The first game we played the high school dropout who has maybe read five books in his life and then only those that were required (yep, that’s my other half) won even through his grumblings at a trivia game. After that we heard no grumblings…the less bookish people were realizing quickly that the game is designed in such a way as to give anyone an equal chance at winning…some is about geography, some literature, some actors and actresses, some sports stars, and some just plain quick thinking. In other words…if you know what things like teapots and toothpicks are then you have a very good chance of knowing a lot of the questions. Each game lasts around 30-45 minutes.
About the only reason I can find for this to be an adult game is the title and spaces within the game that contain a word many parents don’t want their child using, many of the questions themselves are perfectly appropriate for kids around age ten on up. This game retails for around $25 and you do get a pretty high-quality game for that price with a durable board and a good quantity of cards of the same thickness as traditional wax-coated playing cards that is good for many many hours of play before the questions start sounding familiar.
Overall I’m pretty happy with this game; it’s not overly challenging in the trivia department but enough so to stay fun and of course we all have more fun when half of our number isn’t getting frustrated after the umpteenth question they couldn’t answer. All-in-all I definitely recommend this for a party game, one can play with as little as three or as many as eight players (it’s workable with two players but I don’t imagine it’d be very much fun) and you don’t have to worry about devoting a huge chunk of time per game so it’s great if you’re, say, waiting for latecomers before getting the real party underway or for that “one last game” at the end of the evening.