Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Tabletop Tuesday! Starting the Fall TV Season with a Big Bang!

Hello and welcome back to Tabletop Tuesday, my weekly blog post about tabletop games! Last week we transitioned out of a summer full of tabletop RPGs by playing a card game inspired by D&D and other fantasy tabletop RPGs: Munchkin.

This week we switched gears and got back to board games! Last night was the 9th season premiere of The Big Bang Theory, so we got some take-out and played The Big Bang Theory Trivia Party Game!

The Big Bang Theory Trivia Party Game (BBTTPG) is made by Cardinal Industries Inc. Designed for 2-7 players, this game puts a "spin" on Trivial Pursuit style trivia games. Hit the jump to learn more!

The BBTTPG is your standard trivia challenge game. Similar to Trivial Pursuit, players compete with each other to answer trivia questions and gather tokens. In this game, the token are puzzle pieces, drawn at random. Each character, or Pixel Pal, is made up of five pieces. The game is over when one player has built their character out of all the requisite puzzle pieces.

The version of the game we have was made in the last year or so, and only covers the first seven seasons of the TV show. Though last year's season is missing, there is still plenty of material for the game to cover, and this version of the game boasts 440 different questions.

The game board has two important spaces on it: the Spare Parts Section, where extra puzzle pieces are placed, and the Home Section, where each player builds their character puzzle. The Spare Parts Section spins, or rotates, and players can collect character pieces from there or by answering trivia questions correctly.

The BBTTPG is very easy to play. Play starts with the youngest player, then proceeds around the table in turns. On your turn, the player to your left draws a card from the deck and asks you one of the two questions. If you answer it correctly, you get to draw a character puzzle piece out of the take-out container or spin the board one section to the right.

If you answer wrong, one other player can steal your question by shouting out their character's name. If they answer the question correctly, they can draw a new character puzzle piece from the box, or steal one of the pieces from the Spare Parts Section in front of you.

If that player gets it wrong too, the turn is ended and play proceeds to the left.

If the board is spun and a Spare Parts Section lands in front of you with one of your character parts on it, you may collect that part without answering a question first. It is entirely possible for a player to win this game without ever answering a question correctly! (I really think Sheldon would hate that...)

The game continues with everyone taking turns and gathering their character puzzle pieces until one person completes their Pixel Pal and becomes the winner!

The manufacturer did a great job designing this game. The puzzle pieces are pixelated, and look like characters from an old video game. And players fish their rewards out of a Chinese take-out inspired container, which is an amusing reference to how much the characters eat take-away.

The spinning board is a neat idea, too, though it makes game set up a little awkward each time. Since the goal is to build your character out of the puzzle pieces, and these pieces are selected blindly from the take-out box, players often select a piece that does not belong to their own character. This game mechanic makes it possible for players to gather character pieces that belong to their own character. And it also offers lagging players a chance to catch up, since players can collect pieces that land in front of them.

The questions are, to be honest, all over the place. Some are embarrassingly easy, while others would stump even Sheldon.

Each card includes two questions, but there is no method to them; the top question is not always easier than the bottom, or vice versa. I know thinking a question is "easy" is relative to the player's experience and knowledge of the show, so I am basing this statement on the distribution of questions about broad show themes or episode topics vs. questions requiring extremely specific knowledge, like the name of that one character who appeared in one scene of one episode in season three and was never mentioned again.

Do you have to be a Big Bang Theory expert to enjoy this game? No, but being familiar with the show definitely helps! I would recommend this game only to people who enjoy trivia games and really enjoy The Big Bang Theory.

I have spent more time than I care to admit watching The Big Bang Theory or working on my own dissertation with it on in the background, and consider myself pretty well-acquainted with the show. In spite of this, there were plenty of questions about insignificant details that completely stumped me!

Playing with only two players makes the game drag, since no one can steal a question and it's easy to hoard puzzle pieces on the board. With fewer correct answers, fewer puzzle pieces come into play. While the BBTTPG can be played by two people, I definitely recommend playing with at least three.

The Big Bang Theory Trivia Party Game is not the only Big Bang Theory trivia game made by Cardinal. I'm sure many of the questions are recycled between the games, but the game mechanics are a little different for each, based on their descriptions.

This game has a suggested retail of $40, but can be bought on Amazon for around $15. It is recommended for players aged 12+, probably to reflect the show's audience range.

So... did anyone watch The Big Bang Theory season 9 premiere last night? What did you think?

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below!
And, until next week, GAME ON!

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