You know that Christmas is coming when the shelves of the local bookstore, normally reserved for their small selection of games, start to groan with licensed titles. Last year’s big selling game based around The Only Way Is Essex was a prime example of a cheap and nasty cash in – it’s so bloody awful, it’s not even been submitted to Board Game Geek. A crappy trivia game set around whatever the latest hot property is that may get one half-hearted play before being shoved into a cupboard, it’ll only resurface the following summer when car boot season rolls around.
Cryptozoic, the folks behind the WoWTCG, are now dipping their toes into the potentially lucrative waters with their new release based on The Big Bang Theory. Will it buck the trend and actually end up decent? More importantly, does it deserve more than a single play?
Well, if you’re a fan of Apples to Apples as well as the series, then you may be looking at something that will get to the table more than once. The game is easy as anything to play, with between three and seven people getting involved in a bid to simply score more points than the others to win. Each turn, one player will flip over a card showing a subject, something along the lines of “The Opposite of Sexy” or “What I Need”, then everyone else must submit a card from their hand in response.
It’s very much a case of know your audience; what card do you think will appeal the most to the player who is choosing? All answers are then shuffled and revealed, points tokens are handed out and play moves on. Once everyone has had a pre-determined amount of turns at being the chooser, points are totalled up and the winner is declared.
Naturally, there are a couple of twists, otherwise this would essentially have the Apples to Apples folks banging on the door of Cryptozoic demanding money with menaces for stealing their idea. First up is the Bazinga card; there’s only four in the box, but once everyone’s answers have been put in for a certain subject, a Bazinga can be played with means the card is changed to a different topic – the responses stay the same. It adds an element of randomness and silliness to the game, but I can’t help feel there should be a few more included. With a smaller amount of players, it’s rare that you’ll even see one during the course of play.
Second twist are the Experimental Formula cards. These demand that players hand in two cards to the referee for that round (in handy little card envelopes, which are actually very useful – nice work Cryptozoic!) in response to a situation such as “Would Be Awesome Best Friends”. Again, the judging player doles out points in their order of preference and play continues as normal.
And really, that’s it. The Big Bang Theory Party Game is incredibly lightweight but sure, it’s fun enough for a few plays. If you don’t own Apples to Apples and think you’d prefer a slightly saucier version of the game (it’s aimed at ages 15 and up on the box) then it’s pretty much ideal for you. Any links between the game and the show itself are tenuous at best – there’s a bunch of elements that have been mentioned in TBBT – but while every card has a quote and a photo taken from an episode, the game really could be reskinned in countless different ways and would still work fine.
Everything is well presented; the cards are decent enough and production throughout is grand. Considering the size of the packaging, you don’t actually get a massive amount of stuff in the box – cards, points tokens, card envelopes and… well, that’s it. I don’t think that’s going to stop it from selling ridiculously well come Christmas, mind you. And at least it’s solid and is actually entertaining to play, which is something that can rarely be said about the countless games based on TV series that litter cupboards around the world… Frankly it’s nice seeing a relatively good game based on a property that isn’t a quiz show – could this be the start of a wave of quality releases set around popular IP?