Did your father ever offer up the instruction, “Think before you speak,” as a sage piece of wisdom when you were a kid? Well, mine did. Unfortunately I never completely learned that lesson as I’m always still saying stupid things that I wish to take back. Too bad, too. Because that advice would serve you and me well in Think Again!
How it Plays
Think again is a trivia party game. But wait, before you groan and roll your eyes lamenting, “Not another trivia game,” there’s a twist. In this one, knowing the wrong answer is just as right…well…at least half the time!
The game consists of a stack of awkward-sized, square cards as only Europeans seem to love. On the front face is a list of five questions, each with its answer (if applicable). On the card backs are symbols used to determine whether or not players are looking for the right or wrong answer on a particular question.
Played in teams or individually as everyone for him/herself, the game progresses through a number of rounds. During a turn, one player is the reader and takes the deck of cards. Drawing one card, she needs to cover its back so as not to confuse the guessers, read one of the five questions of her choice, and then immediately show the back of the next card on top of the deck. Whichever symbol is shown on that card determines whether players need to answer correctly or incorrectly. If the card reads RIGHT, or shows a green circle or the professor, then players need the true answer. If it reads WRONG, or has a red square or the dunce, then you must answer in the negative.
The first player to blurt out the correct, or incorrect – which is actually then the correct – answer gets a point. The reader repeats the process four times with a different card each time so that she has read five questions total and then passes to the next player. When everyone’s had a chance to read five questions each, the game ends. The winner is the one with the most points.
There is another variant for team play. Instead of a complete free-for-all, teammates ask their partners the questions in three alternating rounds of 30 seconds apiece. In the first round, teams receive a point for each correct answer (or incorrect, if needed, which would then actually be…oh, never mind, you get it). In the second round, questions are worth 2 points for each right response, but a team must end their turn upon the first wrong answer. In the third round, the other team(s) can jump in and steal, with all successes worth 3 points.
If Playing This is Wrong, Do You Want to be Right?
No one likes looking stupid. At least without get paid to. So trivia games are a turn off for many people. Even in a casual, social environment, it can be intimidating because you know there will always be a category of questions that make it look like you just graduated the 2nd grade or emerged after a 20-year residence from your hermit’s cave. And trivia as a funny party game that works? Those are rare. But Think Again pulls it off!
Theoretically, you still need to know the real answer to every question in Think Again. If you need to be right, then obviously you should be ready with that answer. Even if you need to be wrong, you still want to know the correct answer so that you can give the incorrect one, thus being correct! The beauty is that you can bluff your way out if you get a wrong answer. If the symbol flips up looking for the correct response and you blurt out some nonsense reply out of ignorance, then just pretend you got flustered and made a mistake, thinking you needed the wrong one. That happens a lot, anyway, and is the heart of the fun.
Most of the questions are basic, with obvious answers. Some – probably one per card –are a bit tougher which might trip up some players. Usually, though, the crux of the experience is guessing correctly or incorrectly based on the revealed symbol. Knowing that Smurfs are blue is only half the effort. If that particular moment is calling for the correct answer, then whoever shouts, “Blue,” first earns the point. But if you need an incorrect answer just then, you need to throw out another color. That’s easier than it sounds. First, you might sit there and mentally cycle through possibilities, stymied for no logical reason, trying to think of some other color. Second, your brain is already so wired to think of the little guys in terms of blue that you just may blurt that out anyway – which would be wrong, even though normally it’s right. And if the symbol wants the right answer, but you’ve messed up the symbols in your head and shout out, “Red;” well that will be just embarrassing. That will happen! And the others will laugh at you when it does.
Part of the reason you’ll throw out an answer at the wrong time is that the symbols vary, just another thing to mess with your head or keep you on your toes. Just looking at them normally, it’s obvious which three need a correct guess and which three require an incorrect one. Problem is, you’re not playing this casually. You’re leaning forward ready to pounce like a jungle cat, if they competed at a spelling bee – because you know that will give you head start on your opponent, of course – completely tense and anxious waiting for the reader to ask the question and reveal the symbol. The pressure is on and you’ll succumb to it more than once.
The range of questions is broad and varied which makes it nice to tailor a game to your specific group’s tastes, style, ages, and knowledge-level. It also provides plenty of opportunities to really make things silly. Some are Kindergarten easy like, “What animal barks.” Beware, though, as the simplest ones can prove to trip you up the most! Others are really open-ended with lots of correct responses, as well as incorrect, such as, “Name an American television show.” One even asks you to name a verb. A verb! My goodness. Some are worded to make you pause, freeze your brain, and/or really mess with your head like, “Which family member is the sister of the mother”; or my favorite, “What is your relationship to the person sitting on your left?” Others have their answer right in the question such as, “What kind of animal is Micky Mouse,” which of course leads you to shout out, “Mouse,” whether you need that correct answer, or not. And some are just absurd like, “Which season comes after Monday,” in which case the correct response is to actually say, “Absurd” (or something like it). However, you know you’re going to answer Tuesday, anyway. Don’t deny it.
Again, there are some more obscure questions that I would not consider general knowledge. There are some references to specific genres that will stump people. One question, for example, asks, “Which rock group was Mick Jagger part of?” Even if that is obvious to you, certain newer generations of players or those not into rock ‘n roll, will not know the Rolling Stones. While not obscure, 1,000 point Jeopardy questions, there are still some pop culture and geek references that you won’t get if you don’t frequent those circles. Regardless, it is a trivia game in large measure, and some people are just simply better at the genre than others. It’s like the poor…they’ll always be with you.
However, at least each card has five questions. Chances are that four are dead easy or attempt to stump all players equally. Therefore, the reader should be nice and understand her audience. If a reader wants to be a jerk and try to metagame question selection, then it could dampen the fun. Hopefully, participants will reserve the tougher inquiries for the appropriate sessions.
The only disjointed element to game play is the manner in which players are instructed to hold the cards. You must completely cup the question card in one hand so that the back is covered, while concealing the back of the deck in the other, but ready to reveal it as soon as you read the question. It’s a bit awkward and even more cumbersome for kids or adults with smaller hands. You may consider and/or experiment with an alternate method, as long as the results remain the same.
You don’t need to be a genius to play Think Again, but you do want to be quick. That’s exactly what makes it a fun and accessible party game, despite is encyclopedic nature. This is light and casual and silly; a great social experience to bridge various ages and backgrounds, and an ice-breaker. Rather then accessing memory banks like a computer to prove your IQ – or expose a lack thereof – you’re instead trying to quickly process whether you need the right or wrong answer and then blurt out a response as fast you can. You will stumble, stammer, stutter, and get tongue-twisted while everyone at the table – including you – laughs.
iSlaytheDragon would like to thank IELLO for providing us with a review copy of Think Again.