Dave Clark - Quiz Pages

Quiz Games

Do you remember Trivial Pursuit ? If you were born before 1980 it's a decent bet that you might well, and even if you weren't there's every good chance that you encountered it along the way somewhere.Well and good, there's nothing wrong with that - if you can't get out to play in a real quiz, that is. 

Particularly since winning Mastermind I've been pigeonholed as the'quiz' guy. Which is actually fine by me. It does mean that I sometimes get given various quiz related stuff which I wouldn't have bought for myself, but I'm always happy to receive. In the following page are just a number of the quiz games that I've either played, or been given over the years. Let's start with some favourites : -

10 Good Quiz Games

#1Horn Abbott - The World According to Ubi (1986)

In my opinion this is the finest trivia based game ever created. However . . . it's not for the fainthearted, and it's not for the merely casually interested in quizzing. This is a game for the purist.

The World According to Ubi was created by Scott Abbott and Chris Haney, the creators of Trivial Pursuit, and it was launched on the market in 1986. The phrase 'difficult second album' springs irresistibly to mind.At the time, the two of them were riding high on the wave of Trivial Pursuit, and I'm guessing that the Games Industry thought that they could do no wrong.

A while ago I made a post on my blog, Life After Mastermind, asking whether anyone still plays Trivial Pursuit – following a comment made to me when I won a pub quiz one evening. Two regular readers recommended this game to me. So I bought a copy from ebay.

On opening the package my first thought was that it looked like a Krypton Factor test as redesigned by the freemasons. Triangles, pyramids and single eyes are very much in evidence. The two people who recommended Ubi to me both made a point about the game being difficult, and this becomes obvious from your first reading of the rules. Let me quote a little : -

 “The winner is the player who first assembles the four Rubi scoring facets to form a complete Rubi (pyramid) topped by the Rubi Ubi finishing piece. Rubi facets are earned by answering one Ubi in each of the four Ubi Zones with triangular precision.The player born closest to March 15th in the calendar year plays first. The player with the first turn rolls the rubi cubis ( dice ) to determine the ubi zone and degree of precision , either hexagonal or triangular required for the answer.

 One rubi cubi is the zone cubi, having one face for each of the four zones, and two for the ubi eye. ( The zones are Americas – Europe – Water ( embracing Australia and the world’s oceans, seas , lakes, islands rivers and shores ) – Universal ( Asia, Africa and other places ) When the ubi eye is rolled the player may choose any ubi zone. The other rubi cubi is the precision cubi which will show either a hexagon , a triangle or an ubi eye. If a hexagon is rolled, then the answer must be the number of the hexagon in which the location is found. If a triangle is rolled, the answer must provide the number of the hexagon and the triangle within it, denoted by S,E,A,R,C or H on the Rubicon Reticule map reader. The player may choose to give hexagonal or triangular precision is the ubi eye is rolled on the precision cubi.

Yes, it sounds off putting, doesn’t it? Yet once you get the hang of it, its very absorbing, and easy to play. I say easy to play - but not easy to win.  They key is the questions. Each one starts with – ubi – which the latin scholars among us know is the latin for where. So to pick a random one : -

AMR – Ubi Chile poke at Peru ?

Answer –

AMR – Southern Peru 282- A

The thing is its not enough to know the answer, you have to find the correct spot on the map, and that’s, not to put too fine a point on it, difficult. Which is the really good thing about the game. These questions are very different from what you might be asked in pretty much any other trivia game out there, and all the better for it.

I think that had this not been invented by Abbot and Haney, the inventors of Trivial Pursuit, then I doubt that any company would ever have produced it at all. Having struggled to get anyone to take on Trivial Pursuit, and then been vindicated by the kind of sales figures which no board game was supposed to be able to achieve by the early 80s, then they were really allowed to throw the kitchen sink at this one. You liked the 'cheeses' and wedges to collect in Triv ? You ain't seen nothing yet. We'll give you pyramids in this one. Nice board in triv? We'll give you the whole world in Ubi. You liked the box that Triv came in ? How about this one, it's a great big triangle - and so on.

If you want a set now, then go on eBay and get a second hand one because they don't make it any more, and haven't done for a long time.

Why did it fail?

Partly because although I believe it is better than TP, that came first. Partly because it's just too hard for mere mortals. Partly because the style of questions jars with the level of difficulty, and the randomising factors of the red herrings and Caesar's ghost are distractions which you don't need.

Although you can see how it repeats some of the features which gave Trivial Pursuit its appeal – sumptuous box – a lot of ‘game’ for your money – questions to answer and things to collect – you can also see how this would only ever have minority appeal. Its based on one knowledge subject rather than all of them – and it's difficult. Of course, for its fans, these are probably exactly the features which make it much better than Trivial Pursuit. I checked Facebook, and there’s at least one group dedicated to the game, with over 50 members.

OriginalityIt’s original alright.

Visual Appeal Huge. The triangular box alone is almost worth the price of admission. It’s just a shame about the board. Being so large, it’s a foldable sheet, and not a proper hard board of the kind that TP has. The little pyramid pieces are very appealing though.

GameplayI think there are two reasons why this was never going to be a mainstream hit. The game is not instantly accessible. Then the acquisition of pieces is actually pretty hard. Games can go on for a long time with no actual winner. On the other hand, if you have exceptional Geographical knowledge, and pure blind luck with the dice, it is possible to win the game before any other player even gets a turn. It's a game best played with people who do have genuinely good Geographical knowledge - in which case you can play through a 4 person game in about an hour. There are a couple of built in randomising factors in the game. There are questions which are red herrings, asking you to find things that aren't there, and you have to identify these if you don't want to pass on the go . Also, there are the Ides of March. These are questions where the answer tells you that you have to pay a forfeit - usually your hard earned pyramid pieces, although it may be missed goes instead. Really annoying when you've worked so hard to collect your pieces.

QuestionsWell, as you can see from the questions quoted above, it’s not just about Geographical knowledge, but without Geographical knowledge you’re sunk. Even with it , it doesn’t actually mean that you’re going to win anything. A good quizzer will know the actual answers to the majority of the questions, but it doesn't mean that you'll be able to pinpoint them on the map. The 'joky' phrasing - non grammatical constructs and alliteration very much to the fore don't really do it for me.

Family PlayNo. This is not a game to even think about playing with family unless all of your family are GOOD quizzers. Even then think about it again. This is a problem, for there really isn't much point in playing it unless you're playing against another good quizzer. But if you're lucky enough to know at least one other good quizzer who is interested, then you're sorted. For the fans, among whom I count myself, this is one of the most compelling quiz games you will ever play.  

#2 Granada Ventures - University Challenge Electronic Game (2006)

Man cannot live by socks alone. Put it another way, while I am perfectly happy to be given the necessities of life for birthdays, Christmas etc., the fact is that such gifts don’t raise the spirits like something quiz related. Hence my delight to find this in my stocking on Christmas morning a couple of years ago. I was even more delighted to find that it had been bought a few weeks previously from a car boot sale for pennies.

This game first saw the light of day around about 2006. Lots of quiz shows have brought out a play-at-home board game version, although I think that this will become less and less common as it becomes easier to make an online, PC, or games console version. As far as this one goes you do get quite a lot of game for your cash. The whole thing is based around the electronic ‘desk’, to which are connected 4 buzzers. ask a question, whoever buzzes in first gets to answer. You’ve seen the show, you know how it works.

Originality – Well, it’s not The World According to Ubi, but then it has to try to replicate to a certain extent the gameplay of the TV show we all know and love. To a large extent it does this very well. The buzzers make it different from the vast majority of quiz games.

Visual Appeal – Quite high. The desk is really rather good, and even though there’s no board there’s plenty to show you that you are actually playing a game. The box is a little generic, but you can’t have everything I suppose.

Gameplay – Fine. As I said, it’s trying to replicate as closely as possible the gameplay of the show, and it does that quite faithfully. However with the buzzers, once one has gone off, you have to wait six seconds before anyone else can buzz in to have a go at the same question. Which can actually be a long time to wait, and does tend to result in players absolutely slamming their buzzers through the table once the six seconds is up.

Questions – There are 4 sets of questions – Beginner – Basic – Intermediate – Advanced. Each card contains two starter questions, and one set of bonuses. They may say Beginner and Basic, but really a lot of these questions are the sort that I could happily ask down the rugby club. The Advanced are difficult – of a level with many of the starters on the show. I love that, but it does have implications for gameplay. What I will say, though, is the number of cards is stingy. There are 50 cards in each set. That’s 400 starters altogether. It sounds like a lot, but it’s really not. That’s just a few games on each of the sets before you come to know them too well.

Family Play – The box does tout the potential for the whole family to play the game, but I have to say that I think that even the beginners and basics are too hard for that. We have played it as a family, but without instituting some kind of handicap system the quizzer will always win. BUT – I have made my own question sets for this, and used it with great effect with my own kids, and also with kids in the school I teach. 

#3 Tell Me Quiz (Spears Games ) Spin Quiz (Merit)

I don’t own this any more. I had it for my tenth birthday. Although it was a robust enough little thing, I think I trod on the spindle and broke it off, but I repaired it using one of the long bolts from my meccano set. Basically a brilliantly simple idea, which was first made in the mid 30s, and still going strong in the 1970s when I had it. The spinning wheel has a little window. On the base are the letters of the alphabet. You pick up a card form the set which comes with the spinner, and it will say , for example a lake – a country – a car etc. Then you’d spin the wheel, and whatever letter it reveals, you have to name an example of the thing on the card that starts with that letter. If you manage it, then you keep the card. Whoever has most cards at the end of the game is the winner. Sometimes it really is true that the simplest ideas are the best.

As a lesson warm up at work I sometimes play something very similar with the kids at school, and it absolutely works a treat.

OriginalityIt’s difficult to assess how original this might have seemed in 1933 because it has had imitators since. In fact I might never have been given it, but a friend of mine was given a game called “Watchamacallit” or something like that for his birthday. This was basically the same game, although as I recall there was a brightly coloured board with pictures instead of all the cards. I raved about it to my mum, who bought this instead – which to my mind was even better. At the time Merit also made a game which was almost identical called Spin Quiz, although that looked plasticky. Now, as it happens, this one I do have. I don't know if she read about the Tell Me quiz in a post I made about it on my blog, Life After Mastermind , or whether she thought that anything with the word Quiz on the box would be a good choice for me, but my daughter saw this in a boot sale, and bought it as a Father's Day gift. Better than socks any day of the week.

Visual AppealI suppose that it wasn’t even state of the art in 1974 or whenever . Still the spinner itself was very appealing. It was quite weighty for what it was, and would spin for ages if you gave it some welly.

Gameplay – Simple and brilliant. It won't keep you going for hours at a time, but it's not designed for that. It's a 10 minute game par excellence.

QuestionsAs I remember the cards also had the word printed in French as well. So while you’re playing, you’re also learning French vocabulary. Fantastic. Spin Quiz goes even further - each card has English, Spanish , French and German !

Family PlayPerfect family fare. The kids can play this and win too.

Supplementary – Scattergories (1988 Hasbro )

This is possibly the most successful variation on the Tell Me/Spin Quiz theme. Inside your game box you get a set of list cards. each card contains 6 lists, and each list has 12 different categories. You also get a 20 sided dice, which has different letters on each face, and a set of score sheets. You pick the list of categories you want to play with, and then roll the dice. whichever letter lands face up, then you have to write down something for each of the 12 categories which starts with that letter. A rather natty electronic timer comes in your box, and you start it as soon as each player is ready. As soon as the timer runs out, then you have to stop writing. Scoring is simple. If your answer for a particular category is not also given by any other player, then you get a point for it. In case of a dispute as to whether an answer really fits within a category or not, a vote of all players ensues, and the majority verdict goes. You get two rounds with the same list, and then, at the bottom of the card is just one category. For the last round each player has until the time runs out to write down as many things within the category as they can which begin with the letter that is rolled on the dice. Same rules apply, only unique answers score points. Add up the score for each round, and Bob’s your uncle, the one with the highest combined total is the winner.

You can probably see why I’ve lumped this game in with the previous two. It’s not the same, but it certainly belongs in the same genre of quiz games. It is not startlingly original – in fact kids at the school in which I teach play a paper and pencil version called Boy Girl – but it’s a very good format. A game takes no more than between 10 – 15 minutes to play, and it really isn’t about luck, so much as it’s about knowledge and judgement. Which come to think of it is a pretty good recommendation, I’d say.

 

 

   #4 Quizzard ( Random House 1987 )

This isn’t a board game. What you get for your money is a very clever buzzer/score keeping system, and three books full of questions. Obviously the buzzers are the best thing about it. Up to six people or teams can play at any one time. The buzzers can actually accommodate three different games. The first is the classic – a question is read out from the book, preferably by a non playing question master, and then it’s a race to see who buzzes in with the correct answer. A correct answer moves your little arrow headed pointer closer to the centre. First one to 20 correct answers will reach the centre and win. The second game starts when any player pushes their buzzer. The lights on the centre section will go round, and eventually alight on a random player, who then gets a chance to answer the question and move closer to the centre. The other main variation involves players using buzzers to set the amount of time available to answer the question – different buzzers permit different amounts of time – shorter times allow more moves and so on.

The only other buzzer game that I own is the University Challenge game. That one has only 4 buzzers, and they can only be used for the classic first to buzz in game. So it’s certainly a better buzzer system. I’ll be honest, a hell of a lot of the thought and design time available to plan and produce this game was probably spent on the buzzer/scorers, because I’m afraid precious little has been spent on the three small question books. To be honest, I think that the game makers expect you to use other sets of questions from other games with this, because it wouldn’t take that long before you exhaust those in the books. It’s a little bit of a shame – a couple of boxes of cards with questions inside this, and it would be just that bit better.

OK, that quibble aside, I have to say that I like quiz TV shows, and this has much of the simplicity of many . It doesn’t really pretend to be much more than it is, and it is fun.

Originality – Well, a relatively simple buzzer quiz doesn’t sound all that original, but then with the exception of the UC game, which came later, I don’t know any other. Having three different games to play is definitely a bonus too.

Visual Appeal – Oh yes. The box, big, dark and chunky . Check. The many limbed buzzer, colourful and appealing. Check check. The question books – well, never mind.

Gameplay – Considering that you only need to answer twenty correct questions, a game can take a long time to play , especially if you play the random contestant game, where the system itself picks who gets to answer. Half an hour is a quite reasonable time for the game to take. One thing I will say is that having the three question books means that you can cater for players of different abilities. One has questions for the 8 to 12s, another for 8 – 80, and the most difficult for 18 – 80. Believe me, getting this kind of happy mix isn’t easy at all, and I’ve done it more easily with this game than with any other.

Questions – There aren’t enough of them, and within each book they are highly variable. However there is a clear difference between the kind of questions in the easiest book, and those in the hardest, which is something. There’s lots of old stagers, but being as this was first launched in 1987, some of the questions are inevitably out of date. Can’t be helped.

Family Play – My 18 year olds LOVE this game. They play on the easiest book and I play on the hardest book, which produces close and exciting games. It’s official – bring buzzers into the game, and non quizzers seem to enjoy it.

 #5 Spears Games The Quizmaster (1983)

Escorting Mrs. C. around the boot sale in Bridgend as is my wont, I happened to notice this lurking beneath one of the tables.

Released in 1983 by Spears Games in conjunction with the BBC this one somehow passed me by at the time. It’s obviously cashing in , for want of a more appropriate phrase, on Mastermind, but couldn’t use the name for a game because the bearded chap with the rather attractive oriental lady had got in there first. The seller assured me that it was all there, and the money went down on the table.

1983 meant that this one got right in on the start of the Trivial Pursuit boom. I myself never heard of Trivial Pursuit until 1984, and that was from some Canadian guys I met on Rhodes while I was backpacking round the Cyclades and Dodecanese that summer ( said he, trying and failing miserably to make himself sound all windswept and interesting.) What’s this game like ? Well, it certainly avoids a couple of potential pitfalls. For one thing there’s no board. For another , the rules and instructions fit onto one A4 sheet of paper. If you need a thick booklet to explain how to play a game, chances are that it’s too complicated. Basically it’s all about cards. The box is full of question cards. There are ten categories of card – which are Famous People – The Animal World – General Knowledge – The Arts – Sports and Games – The Sciences – Stage and Screen – The World – History – Common Sense. I like that last one. Each category is colour coded – Hmm, heard that before somewhere. Each card contains 10 questions. each category contains 100 cards, which even my elementary arithmetic can work out as 10,000 questions. It works like this – Each player takes the turn to be the question master for one complete round. The challengers in turn decide which category they want their questions from. The first question on each card is the easiest, and therefore worth 1 point – the 10th the most difficult, and worth 10 points. A player who answers correctly continues with his/her go, up to three consecutive correct answers. If a player gets it wrong , the question passes across to the next player, and so on. Passed across questions are always worth just two points whatever the level of difficulty. The turn then goes to the next player as well. It’s not a million miles removed from Brain of Britain in this way. The winner is the first player to amass 50 points, but here’s the rub. It must be made up of cards from at least 7 categories, with no more than four cards from any one of them.

Well, that’s only the first way to play. The booklet does suggest others. You really need the category stipulation. I’ll give you an example of the questions. The first 10 are from a card in the General knowledge category, and the second is a card picked randomly from the Common Sense category –

General

1. Where does the poncho originate ?

2. Is soap made from oil, fat or wood ?

3. What is the first book of the Old testament ?

4. What is peculiar about a shark’s teeth ?

5. What are Lady Day and Michaelmas ?

6. Who gave the Torah to the Jews ?

7. What is the equivalent of the Red Cross in the Middle East ?

8. What are the names of the tubes that connect the nose with the ears ?

9. What is sarsenet ?

10. What are the thongs called which hold a falcon’s feet ?

Common Sense

1. Which is the most studious of worms ?

2. Where in Britain is it possible to ski in the month of August ?

3. Which doctor only ever listens ?

4. What horse can fly like a bird ?

5. What is the origin of the handshake ?

6. In tossing a coin, what is the chance of a tail after 7 consecutive heads ?

7. A flower in the eye ?

8. What is the square root of -1 ?

9. Why do the Arabs wear many layers of clothing ?

10. How do you move from eye to eye ?

Answers

GK

1. South America

2. Fat

3. Genesis

4. Their teeth are continually regrowing

5. Quarter Days

6. Moses

7. The Red Crescent

8. Eustachian Tubes

9. Fine soft silk material

10. Jesses

Common Sense

1. The bookworm

2. Anywhere you can find enough water

3. A psychoanalyst

4. A horsefly

5. Self defence- preventing the possibility of a sudden stab with a dagger

6. 50 – 50

7. Iris

8. It has no square root ( don’t blame me – I just quote the answers )

9. For insulation, to keep cool

10. Across the bridge of your nose

Originality – Not high. Categorised questions, nice chunky square box, pretty much standard fare for many 80s quiz games which came along in the wake of Trivial Pursuit. No board, though, so at least there is a difference, and several options given as to how you might want to play. Also I like the fact that the questions range in difficulty from most difficult at the bottom of the card to easiest at the top. Magnus did this to great effect in his own two superb quiz books.

Visual Appeal  - As I said, a nice chunky box. The question cards are unprepossessing although colour coded according to category. Nice to see the late great Magnus on the cover. I hope he made a couple of bob from this. The Mastermind chair features on the cover as well,  althought his was all above board since the box makes it perfectly clear that Spears licensed the game from BBC Enterprises.

Gameplay – Well, it’s not a complicated game. There’s no chasing round a board picking things up or putting them down. Just a little bit of scorekeeping. It’s pretty simple to pick up as well. But, and I feel a bit of a heel for saying this, but it is a little pedestrian.

Questions – There are a lot of them. The box is filled with them, and this is just my opinion, but they seem better to me than the original British Trivial Pursuit Genus Edition. I mean, they won’t exactly keep a good quizzer awake at night, but there are some there which can catch you out. More importantly you’re not going to run out of new questions to ask for a long time.

Family Play – You can have some fun with this, because the nature of the cards makes it easy to handicap the quizzer. If you limit the quizzer to only being allowed to answer on questions 8- 9 – or 10 from any card, but only allow them 1 point per correct answer, then you’ve got a system which can allow the non quizzers to have a chance of winning.  

6) Bezzerwizzer (2006)

 

Here’s a quiz question for you. What does ‘besserwisser’ mean in German? Answer – know-it-all. So the game was a German invention? Well, no, not quite. It was actually invented by Dane Jesper Bulow, and has been a marked success in its home country. Mattel has produced a number of versions, including this, the UK version.

 

So this is how it works. There are up to 4 teams or players. Each has their own small board, which is placed alongside the main board. There are 20 question category tiles. Each player/team picks 4 tiles randomly from the bag – like Scrabble – and then places them on their own board. The category placed in the first spot will be worth one point, the second two, and so on. Each player takes a turn to answer a question from their first category. Get it right, and move your playing piece one square on the board. The next question is the two move category, and so on. After all the 4 move questions are asked the tiles go back in the back, and are selected again. The first person to get to the end of the board is the winner.

 

Not that it’s quite as simple as that. In each round of 4 questions you get 2 bezzerwizzer tiles to play, and one zwap tile. Your zwap tile allows you to exchange one of your tiles for an opponent’s, thus offloading your trickiest category. The bezzerwizzer tile allows you to guess an opponent’s question too. They get it wrong, you get it right, and you get the moves for the questions. They get it right and you get it wrong and you go back the same number of tiles.

 

OK, now, if you google this game you’ll see that people who know it tend to really like it. I have to say that I like it too. There’s a wide variety of questions, and different questions from the norm at that. It’s a lot more recent than most games, for a start. However, I will say that it does make the claim that the game gives you a good chance of beating the know-all. Rubbish. The quizzer should win pretty much every time. That’s another thing I like about the game.

#7 Maureen Hiron’s Quizwrangle ( Hiron Games 1984 )

In case you’re asking yourself – Who is Maureen Hiron, she is a writer and game designer who has written about Bridge and Trivia. This game came out in 1984, and the box makes the proud boast that this is Britain’s FIRST Trivia game. I’d certainly be tempted to challenge that boast. Unless I’m much mistaken The Quiz Master by Spears Games came out in 1983. Certainly the Mastermind inspired Masterbrain game came out in 1975. The word Trivia might not have been used in its trivia quiz context at the time, but it was certainly a quiz game. Still, let’s stop quibbling and look at the game itself. Quizwrangle was produced by Hiron Games, a company launched by Maureen Hiron and her late husband to develop and market the games they created. So this is not something just thrown together in the hope of a cash in by a large games manufacturer. It has the feeling of something a little bit different, and a little bit  exclusive, and it all seems very adult.

How does it work. There is a small board divided into 9 rows, and there are 13 columns as well. The column in the centre has squares numbered 1 – 9. There are nine counters – which seem magnetized, even though the board itself is just made of thick card. They go on the numbered squares at the start of the game. There’s a box of questions for each team or player – only two teams or two players can play the game at a time. There are also three nine sided dice. Each player takes it in turns to roll three dice. For each number that comes up on each of the three dice, the player moves the counter starting on that number along the row 1 square nearer to his or her side of the board. There are nine questions on each card. The player is asked questions corresponding to the numbers rolled. If the player answers correctly, then they may move the counter one square nearer. Once the counter reaches their end of the board, then they can no longer be moved back by the other player. The winner is the first to move 4 counters to their end of the board.

Doesn’t sound particularly exciting ? Well, the whole point of the game is that it does become a little like a tug of war, as the same counter move back and forth as their numbers are rolled. And it has a certain compulsion to it. For a relatively small box, there’s actually a really rather generous amount of question cards, and 9 per card is a good ratio as well. It’s even a little strategic, as you are allowed to reroll one, two, or all three of the dice. It’s a good game, and an adult game really.

Originality – Well it is certainly different enough from TP to avoid any serious accusations of copying. On the other hand, it is all about moving counter on a board, and answering questions from two big boxes full of cards on which are trivia questions.

Visual Appeal – The box is quite a bit smaller than the typical quiz game box of the period, but it’s still chunky and it’s not unappealing. Open the box and because it’s that bit smaller it looks satisfyingly full of goodies. The counters have a little bit of heft, the boxes are full of rather sober looking question cards, and the polygonal dice are aesthetically pleasing and a pleasure to handle. But that board – oh it’s so small, rather dull, and a little bit of a disappointment.

Gameplay – It’s a simple game, which nevertheless gives the opportunity to the player to use strategy or tactics, and does create a little tension and excitement. Maybe this is because it wasn’t produced by one of the big boys, and wasn’t hampered by having to link in some way to a TV format. It’s a mature quiz game, and none the worse for it.

Questions – The cards themselves resemble the WH Smiths Continuation Trivia cards – see a little further down on this page – but are much more consistent in terms of quality. A good mix of questions which would satisfy the regular quizzer as well as the novice. Of course, it was made in 1984, so there’s a lot of 70s and early 80s specific stuff – but you can’t blame the game for this.

Family Play – I think that I’ve mentioned once or twice that this is a more mature game, and doesn’t seem to even pretend to be for all the family.

#8 Isaac Asimov Presents Superquiz (1982 Waddingtons) 

I don't actually remember this one from back in the day. Two things suggest that this was certainly a reaction, if not a kneejerk one, to the original Trivial Pursuit. Firstly, the year of production . By 1982 it was clear to one and all that TP was a huge phenomenon. Secondly, this was made by Waddingtons Canadian arm. As we all know, Trivial Pursuit is one of the great gifts that Canada gave to humanity, along with the paint roller.

I find it interesting that this one was rolled out under the Isaac Asimov brand. Not that 'presents' necessarily means that Isaac Asimov had anything to do with the game other than lending his name to it. It basically consists of 6 boxes of question cards, and some scorecards. The six categories are Movies, Sports and Games, Geography, History, Words,and Science. Each card has 3 questions on each side. This is a clever thing, you see. On each card there is a set of A questions, and their answers, and then on the reverse side, a set of B questions and their answers. A simple idea but quite a good one, I think. In a way I'm glad that there's no board trying to emulate, and yet avoid getting sued by , Trivial Pursuit.

Originality - Not high. How can it be ? The game does exactly what it says on the tin - it's a quiz, and the one who answers most questions will win. It's a format that is as old as the hills, and none the worse for all that.

Gameplay - I like it, but then I like straight quizzes. It certainly , though, doesn't have anything like the appeal of Ubi . Why ? Because it is really a quiz, and it isn't really a game. There is a difference , although you can have things which successfully combine the two.

Questions - These are its strength and also its weakness. There are an awful lot of them, and many of them are quite thought provoking. However you have to bear in mind that this game was made in Canada, and there is a huge bias towards all things North American. This may actually be to your liking, but it makes the quiz even more difficult for the non specialists.

Visual Appeal - the size and shape of the box make it fairly clear that it's trying to say - You like Trivial Pursuit ? You'll like me. The little question boxes inside are very colourful, certainly, but oh dear, there is such a lot of empty white space inside the box, which is not appealing to me, I'm afraid.

Family Play - Like the Masterquiz and Question Master games, this really isn't going to lend itself to family play at all. The best quizzer will ein, because there's no randomising factor in this .

#9 Trivial Pursuit Master Game Genus Edition (1982) et al.

The granddaddy of them all. A huge number of the quiz games which came after have been influenced in one way or another by Trivial Pursuit - even if it's just in the way that they have tried to be as unlike Trivial Pursuit as possible. This game was a huge hit - massive, in fact. A lot of things have been said and written about this game, and so I’ll try and stick to the facts for a moment or two. The game was created by two Canadians, Scott Haney and Chris Abbott, on a holiday in 1979, I believe. I think that the genesis of the game was as simple as a dissatisfaction with the games they had with them on holiday, but if I’m mistaken then I apologise. The game was developed and then commercially released in 1982. In 1984 alone over 20 million sets were sold worldwide.

As for my own experiences of it - well, I have mixed feelings about Trivial Pursuit, as do many quizzers of a certain age, I’m sure. I first became aware of the game during a holiday in Greece in 1984. I was backpacking my way down the Cyclades to Crete, then across to Rhodes, and back up along the Dodecanese. Believe me, there’s worse ways to spend a summer when you’re 19 going on 20. I was on my own, and so it pretty much fell upon me to get talking with people and pal up with them for a while before moving on to the next island. While I was on Rhodes I met a group of guys from Toronto – or Tronner as they proudly called it, and they were very much into Trivial Pursuit, which I had never heard of before. It planted a seed in my mind, as it sounded very much my sort of thing, and I resolved to have a look out for it in case it ever made it to the UK.

So, fast forward to the end of the holiday. I flew back from Athens to Gatwick, took British Rail from Gatwick to Victoria, and the tube from Victoria to Northfields station. Walking home along Northfields Avenue, I passed Caves’ toyshop, and looked in the window, where I saw my first ever Trivial Pursuit box. I thought now, as I did then, that the dark green colour scheme, and the fancy lettering on the box were strongly reminiscent of the packaging of a box of After Eight Mints. No, if you’re wondering, I didn’t rush in, buy the box, and thence set myself on the path to true quizdom. In fact it was the best part of a year before I played my first game of Trivial Pursuit. One of the guys in my student hall on the edge of Blackheath had bought himself a box, and was desperate for someone to play against. In fact, prior to creating this page I'd only ever had one set, and hadn't played more than a dozen or so times in my life, if that. Deep in my heart of hearts I kind of agree with some of the criticisms of the first British Genus Edition, namely, that the questions were desperately inconsistent, some very dull, and some very wrong.

BUT - you can't and mustn't ignore the part that this one game has had to play in world wide quiz culture.I bought my first set not long after I started playing in my very first pub quiz, in 1988. They'd just brought out a mini travel edition which comprised of the question sets, but little handheld spinners which replaced the board, the cheeses and everything else . They disappeared years ago, probably the last time we moved house. To be fair this never really appealed quite as much as the full set with board and all.

The full set you see in the top picture is the first proper TP set with board, cheese and all, that I've ever owned. In the photo it looks a little sad and worse for wear because it is. I looked on ebay and was really surprised at the prices these sets were fetching. So when I saw this one in a local charity shop for £1.50 I was overwhelmed by nostalgia and meanness and bought it. As regards the game itself, well, actually my opinion is pretty immaterial, because the game is an institution which has stood the test of time. Still, it's only fair that I rate it in the same way that I have rated the others. 

One thing you can say about the TP people is that they became very good at extending their franchise. After the failure of Ubi ( aka the world's greatest quiz game) it must have become obvious to them that TP was a non repeating phenomenon, and so the trick was to milk it for all that it was worth. The number of different card sets proliferated, and in some cases you could either buy a complete game, and in others just the cards to go with your original sets. These card sets are surprisingly expensive on eBay . The first two you see here, though, the Genus II in yellow, and the Baby Boomer edition in maroon were bought for pennies, one in a charity shop, and one at a car boot. Keep 'em peeled, as Shaw Taylor used to say. The other two, the sport set,and the entertainment set were bought on eBay, and put it this way, in both cases there was change from a fiver.Both the 1990s set and the light blue Young Players' set were car boot sale finds. The Family set was from a charity shop too. However I did buy the two RPM sets - that's music to you and me - on ebay. 99p each, but please don't ask about the postage and packaging. As for the little set, here, well that set is a delightful little thing that my daughter Jessica found in a charity shop. It 's a small version of the game which was given away (given away!) with McDonalds happy meals. The DIsney trivia set - of which there are many different versions - was another car boot sale special - the princely sum of £1.

Bet You Know It is new tangent for TP. Basically you take turns, and everyone bets on whether the player whose go it is will know the answer or not. You still collect wedges, and still have to answer questions correctly to win, but if you gamble well you can but things to help you win more quickly. Interesting idea, but a bit limited in terms of game play . In a way it is a totally different trivia game flying under the TP flag for the sake of sales. You can say the same thing about Trivial Pursuit Team Edition from 2008. It's worth spending a moment discussing this game. You play as teams or individuals. There are no wedges to collect or anything like that. There is a board, but it's about a quarter of the size of a proper TP board. Basically, teams take it in turns to answer questions from 6 categories in order to earn moves around the board. Only 24 cards are answered in each game. Once the 24th card has been asked, whoever is furthest around the board is the winner. Do you know what this game reminds me of? It's like amid 80s attempt by a competitor to make a rival to Trivial Pursuit which is different enough to avoid any accusation of infringement of copyright. I will concede that non quizzers might well enjoy it - but please. You can call a cat a dog as much as you like, but it would still be a cat. You can call this Trivial Pursuit all you like - but it's not. Well, not in my opinion anyway.

The Millennium Edition is a little more traditional. It's basically a normal TP set with a different set of questions - only 1800 with this set, though. They're questions spread through - yes - the last 1000 years. So to that extent it does exactly what it says on the tin - er - box. The difference is the board. In this one you can get from wedge square to wedge square with one throw of the dice - there's 6 fewer squares on this board. Also the roll again square has become a ' time travel' square, which automatically transports you to a specifric wedge square. That's about it. The Family Edition Master Game is a recent car boot sale addition which I haven't had time to really get to grips with yet. Something to look forward to, isn't it. AS for the Genus III, well, this is something that illustrates the dangers of starting to collect things. It doesn't really bring a great deal to the party that the original Genus Edition didn't have, just an updated set of questions. But, well, since it was made in 1992, they're really not all that up to date. Not a car boot sale one this either. I got tired of waiting to find one in a car boot or charity shop, and so bought it for the princely sum of £1 on ebay. Mind you I paid several times that much for postage and packing, though.

The Celebrity Bitesize version was something I received as a recent birthday present. These Bitesize sets are interesting. Most unlike me, I passed on the chance to buy one on music of the 90s and after at a car boot sale – mainly because I have very little interest in or knowledge of pop music of the 1990s and after. Jessie bought it for herself, though. Still, this Celebrity one is mine.

 

Bitesize is TP stripped back and raw. Forget wedges, forget your board. All you’ve got is a set of question cards, and a dice with colours rather than spots. The game starts. You roll the dice. You get a pink? Pink question for you then. Get it wrong, and the opposition gets to roll for themselves. Get it right, and then you get the chance to win a card. You roll again, and then answer the corresponding question from the next card. If you get it right, then this time you keep the card. If you get it wrong, then you pass the dice over. So you always have to answer two consecutive questions correctly in order to win a card. First player to collect 6 cards wins. It really is that simple.

 

As I said, this really is TP stripped to its basics. And that’s not without its appeal. It’s a lot quicker, for example, as your chances of collecting are greatly increased considering that you don’t have to keep dragging your sorry backside around the board hoping to get the right number on the dice to enable you to land on the wedge square that you actually need. But, I don’t know, it lacks the charm of the full TP game.

 

As I said, the first ever set I bought was the pocket version of the Genus edition, a slightly larger version of the one in the photograph on the left, which uses spinners instead of dice, board and wedges. Funnily enough I recently bought two different versions of this at the same car boot sale, since the travel edition in the picture on the right uses a very similar question set, but also a dice and sliders within the box inside the cardboard sleeve.

 

They updated this whole idea in the mid 90s, and I currently own the Food and Drink Edition they bought out at this time. The hand held card/wedge holders are really rather neat, but I have to say that it does take away a lot of the fun of the game, not having the board. Mind you, even on a subject which is not my best, like food and drink, it does make for a quicker game.

When I first created this page I didn't have one set. Then I purchased the first in a charity shop, and since then they've proliferated. Currently I own these:-  

 Full Sets with board Additional Question Sets
 Original Genus Edition Genus II
 Genus III 1993 Annual Set
 Young Players Edition Baby Boomer
 Family Edition (1st Edition) Sport
 1990s Edition Entertainment
 20th Anniversary Edition RPM Vol 1
 2008 Genus Edition RPM Vol 2
 TV Edition Games and Leisure 50 Card Pack
 Disney Edition 1992 Annual Set
 Bet You Know it 
 Millenium Edition 1995 Annual Set
 Family Edition Master Game ( Turquoise Edition and Cream Edition Food and Drink travel Edition
1980s Edition Genus Pocket edition (c.1988)
Trivial Pursuit Teams Genus Travel Edition (c1990)

Other Editions
Star Wars DVD Edition
Music Master CD - Rock and Pop Family Edition
Music Master CD - 60s Edition
Music Master CD - TV Edition
McDonalds Happy Meal Edition
Cockburns Port Promotional Cassette tape edition
Celebrity Bitesize Edition
Family Bitesize Edition
Genus Bitesize Edition
 Star Wars Bitesize Edition

 

 

 You see how these things tend to mount up after a while. What's probably more impressive is that this is nothing like the full range that has been produced in the last quarter of a century. 

Originality - Scores massively, because it pretty much created the genre of games we're talking about. Different coloured question categories allied to a more traditional dice and counter board game. Genius ( or should I say genus ) 

Visual Appeal - the board and playing pieces of the original Genus Edition made this game a thing of beauty which cried out to be played. One of the strongest reasons for the game's original success, I should say. That's one thing in which the original edition scores over the newest Genus Edition, which has a thinner, less substantial box - 2 plastic question card holders rather than individual question boxes, and a board an packaging that are a lot more 'in yer face' than the originals. Why take a luxury product downmarket?

Gameplay - Scores well because of the simplicity of it. However that very simplicity is something of a downfall as well- no real tactical thinking to this game at all. A game could be played out within 90 minutes or so, if you have a halfway decent quizzer among the batch, or if you have someone who has a lot of experience playing the game, which is reasonable.However, if you're a good quizzer it can be VERY annoying when wrong answers are given on cards, and there were just too many of these in the original British edition.

Questions - See above. I can't vouch for editions in other countries, but the quality of questions in the original British Genus edition was hugely variable. The different sets vary in quality. I like the sport, entertainment, and RPM sets quite a bit . Maybe its me, but I think that some of the specialist sets were put together a little more carefully than the original genus set. Even the 2008 Genus set still has its share of what I'm sure General Melchett would call 'damn silly questions', though.

Family Play - Better than some - in as much as the quizzer among the bunch wasn't guaranteed to win due to the variability of the questions. However, being the quizzer in the bunch I found this actually a drawback rather than a plus point. If you want to play it with the family, then you're best to play with the family edition - where the kids' questions are honestly SO easy that the nippers do actually have a chance of getting a win against you. It kinds of get a little under your skin after a while, though, and regardless of whatever we might say about TP, it is very much the giant of the genre.

Supplementary - Trivial Pursuit Annual Edition 1992

I didn’t even know that these existed until I came upon this at a car boot sale. Bearing in mind it was 20 years out of date, and the day was overcast and a bit miserable I felt quite justified in talking the seller down to a pound for it. I was only buying it as an interesting item, and not for playing, so if she’d stuck to her guns I would have walked away. OK, then, to business. A little research reveals that Parker made these at least from 1992 to 1997. They must have really had faith in the game then to produce sets – which can’t have been that cheap to manufacture – which realistically only had a window of a few months in which they were likely to sell in any great numbers.

As with the standard TP games the packaging is excellent. However , I do wonder a little about it all. You see, the thing is that in your set , which is slightly less than half the size of a standard genus edition box, contains 250 cards, a set of wedges and cheeses/cakes/ whatever for holding them. It has dice as well. In fact it has everything instead of a new board. All of which is probably redundant apart from the question cards. After all, if you HAVE a TP board, which you’re going to need to play the game, then it’s a decent bet that you’ve still got all the other gubbins as well.

I shan’t go through all my usual rating headings, because it’s still TP, just with very specific questions. Must have been fun for about 6 months after it came out, but hard to remember many answers 20 years later.  

=#10 The Chase (Ideal – 2012 ?)

As we’ve already seen board game spin offs from popular TV quizzes can vary a lot in quality. The Chase is a quiz show that I have a lot of time for and I know all of the Chasers to a greater or lesser extent. Of the two ‘pro-am’ quiz shows on TV this is the younger, but I’ll be honest and say that I do tend to prefer it to Eggheads. If you’ve ever been a regular viewer of the Chase, you’ll know that it consists of three distinct rounds – the cashbuilder – the ladder – the final chase. I was intrigued to see how this game would incorporate these three distinct stages into the game

It actually does so very well. One of the main pieces of game kit that you get for your money is the electronic timer and buzzer. This enables you to play against the clock in both the cashbuilder round, and the Final chase. I think that the game’s designers made a fundamentally correct decision in the basics of the game in not having one player to be the chasers. This is how it works. You each play individually against the clock, answering questions to earn cash. Each question earns £1000. After you’ve all gone, then you pick up a card with the corresponding amount of cash on the blue side. Then you turn it over, and see the other two offers, the high one for taking a step closer to the Chaser, and the low one for taking a step further away. Here’s the clever bit. You each have your own Chaser following you ! The second set of question cards give you a 3 multiple choice questions on each side, and , crucially, tell you which Chasers get them right, and which get them wrong. To move down the ladder, just keep answering them correctly, just like the show. If you get caught, then just like the show, you’re out. The person who carries the greatest amount of money through , then that’s the person who faces the final chase.

The final chase. As a straight and serious general knowledge quizzer I loved this round. 2 minutes of quickfire general knowledge questions against the clock. Hmm, that sounds familiar. Two of the opposing players combine to play the Chaser. If they catch you, you’re out, if they don’t , you win ! Yippee ! Unlike the show I would say that the player has the advantage over the chaser in this round. Mind you it all depends on the strength of the players involved.

I think that it’s a good idea not having one player condemned to just playing the chaser. I think back to childhood, and an enjoyable yet complicated board game called Escape from Colditz. Playing this game was dependent on someone being willing to play the German guards, which was, as I recall, a singularly unrewarding role. However I will say that rather than sharing the question master duties this one works better if someone is willing to just be question master for the game. Speed of asking the questions is vital for the cashbuilder round and the final chase.  This means it’s better to have the same person asking for everyone.

All in all a good game which is faithful to the original show.

Originality – It’s a very faithful version of the TV game, so it’s not original in that score. But yes, that in itself is quite original. It’s not really like any other quiz board game that I’ve come across out there.

Visual Appeal – I could joke and say it all depends on how visually appealing you think that the Chasers are, but since I know them all I’d better not. The game looks every penny that it costs, and is every bit as visually appealing as you could hope for.

Gameplay – Extremely faithful to the show, which I’m guessing is pretty much what people are looking for from the game. The first two rounds can accommodate up to 6 players which is pretty generous. The rounds don’t last long enough for anyone to get too bored with them. As for the final chase, unfortunately it doesn’t involve all the players, but it is a great part of the game – my favourite bit.

Questions – Again, this is faithful to the show. That’s not necessarily totally my cup of tea, since there is something of a preponderance towards popular culture. That’s a purely personal thing though, and probably just reflects the fact that the game is supposed to appeal to the whole family. I will say that there are probably not enough question cards to last for a huge number of games, which is sadly something I often find in the most recent quiz games.

Family Play – Yup – the family love this one. The vagaries of the cashbuilder and ladder round mean that it’s not always the strongest player who gets through to the final chase. Mind you, the strongest player tends to win the final chase if he’s playing as a chaser. Still, as I say the family really enjoyed playing this one.

=#10 Pointless ( University Games)

Yes, I know that it's a cop out, but having played both of these games several times over Christmas 2012 I really cannot decide between them. Both of them have a very clear format from their parent show to reproduce, and both of them do it fairly successfully.

The idea behind the TV show is to find answers to questions which ask you to name items belonging to a particular category. each question has been asked to 100 people. The fewer of these who gave the same answer as you, the fewer points you score. If your answer is wrong you get 100 points regardless. Basically that's it. Well, it's the same for this game. The questions and answers are in cards, and cleverly designed card holders for each different round enable the question master to play along as well.

There's 4 different rounds, and question card sets for each one. There is also a board, but you really don't need that, it's just wndow dressing. The business actually takes place on your answer sheets. Which perhaps is a little bit of a drawvback with the game. Remember Cluedo , and the answer pads in the game. They don't last forever. still, when all the answer sheets run out you can easily use pencil and paper.

There is a drawback. Most games you can relatively easily use question sets other than those which come with the game, with a little bit of ingenuity. With this one you really can't, due to the mechanics of the game, and needing every question to have been put through a 100 person survey. So once you've played through all of the cards, then that's it. It's still a good game though, a far better and more faithful rendering of a Tv quiz show than many others I've played. This is also true of the dinky little travel version of the game which you can see opposite as well.

Visual Appeal - The game takes its visual lead from the TV game , and quite rightly so. The whole thing does have a feeling of quality about it, even if the board and the tokens on the full game are all a little redundant.

Gameplay - This really is why this game makes it into my top ten. Playing this game pretty much replicates the gameplay of the show. Also it can accomodate 4 players or teams just as easily as two. You can play through a game in a relatively short space of time as well. A well thought out game which is fun to play.

Questions - Again, just what you'd expect given the nature of the show. Not without interest, and pretty faithfull to the kind of things which tend to be asked on the show.

Family Play - Although I'm pretty sure that the best quizzer will win this game the vast majority of times that you play it, there's still something there for anyone else who plays. My kids love it.

Honourable Mentions

The more games that I get given, and try out, the more I find ones which I enjoy playing, even though they don't necessarily quite make it into my top 10. These following games are ones which are enjoyable to play, but either never quite made it into my top 10, or have dropped out of it when superceded by others.

Waddington's Masterquiz (1986)

This is one of those annoying things that can happen. I bought a set for what I thought was a reasonable price from ebay - very cheap purchase price, but P and P quite a bit more. Later the same day I saw it going for £1.50 in a local charity shop. It happens.The arrival of Trivial Pursuit spawned a raft of, well, not exactly imitators, but quiz games designed to appeal to the same people who had embraced TP so enthusiastically. Such a game was the Waddingtons Masterquiz. Waddingtons are well known for the British version of Monopoly, and many other fondly remembered board games from childhood. This 1984 game was very much a ‘throw in everything including the kitchen sink ‘ effort. For one thing, you get 4 (slightly) different games from your money. The first game is the only one to use the playing board provided. You answer questions to move from an predetermined outer position on the board to move to the centre.Your first 4 questions will be on a predetermined specialist subject, and then the rest on General Knowledge. Take it in turns to go , and if you get a question wrong, then you stay where you are. Depending on how many of you there are you can have up to 4 counters each. Basically it's not a million miles removed from ludo with questions. Get to the centre, answer a question right and win. Hooray ! The other versions involve answering specific categories to win points. In some ways they’re not all that different from the John Bull Masterbrain game, and Spears’ The Quizmaster game. In each of the 4 different games, each player takes two turns on each round – once to act as question master, and once to answer a question.There are nine question categories – Geography – Natural History – Oddball – Arts – Life – Science – Entertainment – Sport and History.

Nowhere in the box or the instructions that come with it can I find any claim that this game is based on BBC Mastermind, but it’s difficult to escape the conclusion that Waddingtons would like you think that it is – the word ‘master’ and the prominent black chair logo. Bit of a cheek really, considering that Spears and John Bull at least had official sanction for theirs. Still, there we are, if they weren’t infringing any copyright or somesuch, then who can blame them ? 

OriginalityI’m tempted to ask how original you actually can make a quiz game, but then others manage it – Ubi I’m thinking of particularly. This isn’t very original. All the games are about answering more questions correctly than other players. It’s just my opinion, but Games 1 and 4 both bear some similarities to TP 

Visual AppealSome money spent on design here, I think. The board is somewhat smaller than the TP board – probably about half the size, but board , cards and counters are certainly not without appeal, and the whole thing has the feel of a quality item. 

Gameplay If I’m honest I prefer the first game, the only one to use the playing board. Game two is more of a straightforward quiz, not unlike the Questionmaster game. The third game is just a variation on the second, and the fourth seems very contrived. It involves answering questions for playing chips, and suffers from unnecessarily convoluted rules. I’d lay odds that this is the least played game out of all three.  Depending on the number of players and their level of knowledge, a game can be played through pretty quickly . Comparing it to TP , there’s no hanging about waiting for the dice to give you the right number. Which also, if you think about it, removes a randomizing luck factor from the game.  

QuestionsSomething of a strength of this game. You get a box of 5000 which keeps you going for some time. They’re a little everyday, I suppose, but certainly no worse than Trivial Pursuit, and you get more questions per card for your money as well.  

Family PlayWithout the randomizing factor of the dice involved in any of the 4 games the chances of the quizzer being beaten are slim. Which is another thing which links it with Masterbrain and The Questionmaster too.

John Bull's Masterbrain (1975)

The box of this one trumpets two facts . The first is that this is based on  the BBC programme Mastermind, just in case you hadn’t got that from the big black chair on the cover. The second is that it’s made by John Bull who were famous (?) for their printing sets. Well, it just so happens that I did have a John Bull printing set when I was little, and when I was a few years older I learned that however clever you are you can’t really make a typewriter out of a meccano set and a John Bull printing set. However, I digress.  

This game saw the light of day in 1975, a good few years before Trivial Pursuit was even a twinkle in its creators’ eyes. I’ve no doubt that the makers would have loved to have been able to call it Mastermind, but then that name was already taken in the games market. As you can see from the admittedly fuzzy picture, for your money you get a (cheap ) spinner, some nice coloured pegs, a (cheap) cardboard cribbage style scoreboard, and 3 sets of (cheap) question cards. Right, this is how it works. Each player takes a turn. On each player’s turn the player on the left acts as question master. The player spins the spinner. Then the appropriate number card is taken from the special subject cards. The question master asks the player the ten questions on the card. A correct answer gets a green peg, a pass means no peg is put in the whole and it remains blank, and a wrong answer earns a red peg. After the ten questions are asked the next player takes a turn. Once each player has answered a set of specialist questions, then they take turns with the general knowledge questions. At the end of the general round the scores are all added up , and the one with most green pegs wins. If there is a tie, then the one with fewest blank spaces ( passes ) wins. 

I have a couple of observations on this game. Firstly, 30 question cards per set – general and specialist -  is not very generous. If you play with 6 players each time, then in just 5 games you will exhaust all 600 questions. But fear not ! You are also supplied with 30 Set Subject Cards. Which are blank. I quote from the instruction sheet : - “To increase the scope of the game and make it even more interesting, instead of using the printed ‘Set Subject’ cards, each player selects a favourite subject of his or her own, and each of the other players prepares a set of 10 questions using encyclopaedias – and writing the questions  and answers on the blank cards ( preferably in pencil so they can be rubbed out and used again) . “ I can’t quite make up my mind whether this is a stroke of genius, or a damn cheek. Despite myself, though, I have a sneaking regard for this game. You can extend its shelf life a lot by just using the question cards from The Questionmaster, or Waddington’s Masterquiz as new sets.  

Originality : - Well, it isn’t really meant to be or trying to be original. It actually wants to be as like the TV show Mastermind as it possibly can. The peg board scoring is something I haven’t seen in another trivia game, even if the question spinner is just a tiny bit reminiscent of the earlier Tell Me quiz.

Visual Appeal – Well, my copy of the game is almost 40 years old, and it’s a little the worse for wear. I like the Mastermind influenced box, but it’s very thin cardboard. The pegs are robust plastic, but the spinner and pegboard are very cheap cardboard, and the question cards aren’t really cards at all, just thin paper. It’s a miracle they have survived as long as they have.  

Gameplay : - To be fair this does try hard to replicate the game play of Mastermind, even more so than the Quizmaster, which also claims to be based on the show. The rules are certainly not difficult, and you can’t say that luck plays any huge part in the game. I rather like the way that they have incorporated the idea of passes being important. The game also doesn’t last two long because there’s only two rounds of questions for each player, and if you want to use a kitchen timer, or a stopwatch you can even play it with the two second rule if you want. It’s fairly typical of the cheap nature of this game that they suggest you use one, but don’t supply one with the game for you.  

Questions : -Fairly standard fare, but nothing to complain about too much. But so few of them ! Actually suggesting that you make your own questions takes the biscuit . You can have a better game if you junk these ones, and then play with the cards from the Quizmaster, or even Waddington’s Masterquiz, although this does mean that you don’t quite get the specialist subject round. Or you could make your own specialist rounds . . .  

Family Play : - Well, as in most trivia games the best quizzer is almost guaranteed a win. Games are fairly short, which is a bonus, but it’s difficult to make it simpler so that younger players can have a chance of doing well. Handicaps and head starts go someway towards this. The lack of a board and things to collect put my kids off.

Quotations ( MB Games 1987)

 

I don’t know why I felt like this before I’d even opened the box, but I really didn’t expect a great deal from this game. It’s a mid 80s game, so it looked pretty much that it might be something of a TP clone, though just specializing in quotations. It’s actually a lot better than this.

 

This is not a board game, but rather a straight card game. You have 5 sets of question cards, and one set of playing cards. Each one of these playing cards has the name of one of the categories of question cards, and a letter A – D on it. Each player starts with 6 – or 5 if there are 4 of you – playing cards. The object of the game is to be the first one to get rid of all 6 cards. You take it in turns. When it is your go, choose one of your playing cards. Whichever category you have played, then the player to your left has to ask you the corresponding question from the first card in the pack. Get the answer right and you can leave your card on the table at the bottom of the pack. Get it wrong and you do that, but you also pick up a new playing card from the pack on the table. That’s basically it. The game has really simple mechanics which take about 2 minutes to grasp and which function perfectly. If you have a quizzer , or someone who knows quotations, on the table then you can play through a whole game in between 15 – 20 minutes.

 

I think that I’ve said before that I like things which do exactly what they say on the tin, and this one does all of that. In fact, if you’ll pardon the pun, putting my cards on the table I really enjoyed playing this one. Alright, every game is just about quotations – hence the name – but you could easily adopt the basic gameplay to any subject. Now there’s an idea.

 

Originality – Actually it’s not lacking in originality at all, what with the way that the different cards work. It’s even different from other ‘pure’ card games, like those from the Paul Lamont stable, since there’s no points scoring, nothing fiddly like that.

 

Visual Appeal – fairly standard for the mid 80s, I’d say. Still, the quality is certainly no worse than what you get in most of the other games of this period.

 

Gameplay – I think that I’ve already shown that I think that this is one of the game’s strengths. There’s enough variety between the demands of the different categories of card to keep you going, and to keep interest, and in categories like True or False even the non-quizzer has a chance of getting them right.

 

Questions – well it all depends on how much you like quotation questions. There’s definitely some which you’ll never have heard of before, and there’s some pretty funny ones as well.

 

Family Play –The quizzer wins in this game hands down, I’d say. But the girls rather enjoyed it. The fact that the games can pass so quickly is something of a plus on this score. 

Euroversal (c.1997)

You might be worrying that this one is a pure Geography game. Well, it's a fact that Geography is an important element of the game, but it's not the be all and end all of this. This is a game which aims to make good members of the EU out of all of us. A noble aim, but one doomed to failure when one considers that while many of us love Europe as individuals, as a nation we really aren't very good Europeans. Well, let's stop the political comments, and talk about the game. There were 15 EU members when the game was made. The board consists of a large map showing the 15 member countries, and a route traced around the 15. In each of the countries there are a few neutral white spots, and a blue spot, an orange spot and a yellow one. Land on a coloured spot, and answer a question to win a star of that colour. There are sets of cards for each of the 15 countries. Answer correctly, then you can roll the dice again and move from spot to spot. Once you have gathered 5 blue, 5 yellow and 5 orange stars, then you've won. So basically you're playing a rather straightforward quiz quest - land on the right spot, and answer a colour coded question to pick up something. The questions don't just ask about pure Geography - History, Literature, Art, Entertainment - all of them are in the mix. Got to be said, this really isn't bad at all.

Brit Quiz (1986)

This one has been round the block a few times, and is one of the more successful games which followed in the wake of TP. It's been through several versions since this original version. Basically it's a simple game when you boil it down. A large board unfolds, made out of quite thin card. Depicted on it is a cartoon filled outline of the UK, with a trail of rough squares tracing a route around it. The style looks awfully reminiscent of the work of the late all time great Welsh cartoonist Gren, but I couldn't find a signature, and haven't been able to find confirmation on the net. As for the game play, it's a simple quiz chase. You roll the dice. if you get a six, move six squares, if you get a five move five squares, and so on. Whatever colour you land on, that's the colour of card you pick. If you rolled 4, then you get asked the 4th question on the card. get it right and move forward three spaces. Get it wrong and stay where you are. You take it in turns, and the first one to make a complete circuit of the board wins.

So a game like this stands or falls on the quality of the questions. On the box they champion the fact that this can be played by anyone from ages of 8 to 80. The categories are : - History & This and That - Slang - People - Places - Showbiz - Sport and Up the Creek ( this is basically a category where you undertake a silly challenge or go back three spaces. Yuck.) I'll be honest, I don't think slang merits a whole category to itself, and there's a huge amount of crossover between people and showbiz. Nonetheless it was diverting enough. Made in the 80s, so under 40s needn't bother applying, if you see what I mean. Not bad though.

Linkee (2012)

Right, I'd better come clean about this. I have actually written quite a few questions for the forthcoming 2nd edition of this game, so it's probably fair to say that I'm biased. Basically, this is a quiz card game, and it's all about connections. You can either play head to head, or in teams. If you play in teams, then one person has to agree to be question master, The question master picks out a card. There are four questions. All four answers to the questions are connected. As soon as you know, or think you know, the connection, then you shout out 'Linkee!' and say it. If you're right, you get the card. If not, then you're frozen out for that go. Each card has a letter on the back, one of the letters of the name of the game. Once you collect all 6 letters to spell out Linkee, then you win.

It's designed to be fast and furious, and it is. It's also designed so that the best quizzer shouldn't have much more chance of winning than any other player, according to the packaging. Well, I beg to differ about that one. When playing the game I found that on average I would be able to make a pretty accurate guess usually on the second, and often on the first clue, whereas others took three or four answers.

I'm biased, of course, but this is pretty good fun, and the sort of thing I know you could play with a group for half an hour or so and have a whale of a time.

Oxford (full title The Great Oxford Game of the English Language – Jumbo 1995)

You know from looking at the size and shape of the box that this is another late foray into the ground which has already been ploughed many times before by TP (and its many imitators). The game is a relatively simple one. The board consists of a spiral trail, wound round to make three circuits. The object is to move from the centre to the outer square of the final circuit. Along the way you have to pick up three small Oxford dictionaries. You can earn them by landing on dictionary squares, or by fighting a duel with an opponent. To move forward, roll the dice.

 

There are several different special squares on the circuit. On some you get to fight a duel to win or lose precious dictionaries. On some you get to transfer forward to a higher circuit, or backwards to a lower circuit, rather like snakes and ladders. On other squares you just answer questions to get a boost forward. These are either on the spelling of a word, or the meaning of a word. Questions vary in difficulty – you can move forward more quickly if you answer the more difficult questions. And so on. It’s really not difficult to work out how to play.

 

Is it a quiz ? Yep, it is. It’s a specialist quiz game, because all of the questions really belong to that nebulous category sometimes called ‘words’ or ‘ language’ or other such things. Now. as it happens, I really rather like this. But then I should – I’m an English teacher by profession. As much as I like the game – and I do - I can see some of its drawbacks. For one thing 1995 was at least 5, and more likely 10 years too late to be launching this sort of thing. For another thing, this was a word quiz board game. Now, there are better ‘pure’ word board games out there – Scrabble comes to mind immediately. There are more accessible quiz games out there as well. The fact is that while the green basic level, questions are accessible to everyone, by the time you get to the thee dictionary red questions you are going to be struggling unless you have a very good vocabulary.

I like this game a lot – but then that’s hardly surprising. It’s tailor made for people like me.

 

Originality – Actually this is not totally lacking. I’ll try to explain. Like a lot of quiz board games you go along the track trying to pick up items. Unlike most of them you can lose those hard earned items rather easily in this. Within a couple of goes as well you can easily slip from being close to the finish, to almost right back at the start with a couple of unlucky throws of the dice.

 

Visual Appeal – Its best feature. I find this very visually attractive. The box and the board are at least as appealing as Trivial Pursuit – you’d never feel like a kid if you were seen playing this. The design of the box irresistibly brings to mind the OED and also one of those Oxford sets of protractor, compass, ruler etc.

Gameplay – With a wider range of questions and subjects this particular game format would knock spots off a lot of the general knowledge quiz games out there. But then the whole point is that it’s about words. But I have to say that the mechanics of the game are well thought out, and work well. I found that a game could be played in about 45 minutes.

 

Questions – We can’t escape the fact that they are all about words. If you like words, and you know words, then great. If you don’t . . .

 

Family Play – I don’t know that you’d ever really have bought this as a family game. I think that you would have been disappointed if you did. Smart kids will be fine with the green basic questions, and even some of the blue intermediate questions. But as for the difficult red questions, no. Mind you, that’s probably true of a lot of adults too.

The Best of TV and Movies (Logo – Drummond Park – 2012)

 

This is a spin off from the highly successful Logo game - see further down for my thoughts on that particular game. Amongst quiz game players this is a very popular series of games, and this one was bought for the whole family as a Christmas present.

 

It’s a simple game at heart. The circular board has a fairly long, serpentine track which is divided into differently coloured squares. You need someone to act as question master, either a non player, or a spare team member. The question master takes a card from the pack supplied with the game. The card will have 4 questions – colour coded orange, then purple, then blue, then green. Some of them are about pictures on the other side of the card. A player team try to answer each question. If they answer the orange correctly, then they move their playing piece to the next orange square. If they get the purple right, then they move to the next purple – and so on. You get the point. When you get one wrong, then your go stops, and the other team get a chance to answer the questions. If you get to the green, then the next team/player gets a chance to answer the questions on the next card. When you get into the finishing zone , you have to answer a green question correctly in order to win.

 

I did say that it was simple. There’s no tactical side to this game, it is just a matter of getting the questions right to keep moving along the board. The irregulr spacing of the cloured squares makes it interesting, and it is possible to move along the track quickly without getting a huge number of questions right, by getting the bonuses.  Games don’t last a very long time at all, and I have to say that this proved to be a fun for all of the family game. Playing with just 2 players and a non playing question master, with a loser stays on rule in place we got through a good half dozen games without tiring of it. Good, unpretentious fare.

 

Originality – Well, I don’t really think it’s trying to mimic anything else. There’s no collecting things. As I say, I haven’t played the logo game so I don’t know if it’s using the same format. In another way, though, it is just a chase to the end of a track, and that’s as old as the hills. What gives it originality is the way that the colours space out, which has a great influence on the way that you get to move along the track.

 

Visual Effect – Bright and colourful. It’s kind of in the middle as far as trivia games go. It’s not trying to be all adult and luxurious like the original TP sets, but on the same score it’s not in yer face , cheap and tacky either.

 

Gameplay – There’s no unnecessary complicating factors getting in the way of the questions with this. You can’t complain about that. However the very simplicity of it and the lack of a real tactical side to the game may put some people off it.

 

Questions – If you like TV and Movies, you’re sorted. If you don’t, well, you wouldn’t have wanted to play the game in the first place anyway. Good mix of questions, I though, although I’ll be honest, there isn’t really a marked difference in difficulty between any of the coloured levels as far I can see.

 

Family Play – Probably the favourite game for all of my family to play at the same time so far. Recommended for a family games evening.

The Logo Game (Drummond Park )

The most successful trivia game to enter the market in the last few years. Don't believe me? Then go onto eBay and see the prices these sets are fetching. Game play is the same tried and trusted Drummond Park formula as the Best of Movies and TV game which I was given as a gift at Christmas 2012. There’s n dice. You take it in turns to answer questions on a card. There are four questions on the card. The first question in this moves you onto the next purple square – the second onto the next green, the third onto the next yellow, and the fourth onto the next red. Get one wrong and your go is over. First to the centre of the board and answer two consecutive questions correctly wins. It’s very simple, and that’s probably the beauty of it. There literally is nothing to detract from the question cards themselves. Despite the name it really isn’t all just about logos, and some of the questions are a little tenuous. Has to be said, though, that this really is a fun for all of the family game, and you can understand why it has been so successful. Great fun.

Logo Mini Game ( Drummond Park – 2010)

The Logo Game is possibly the most successful quiz board game to enter the market in recent years – certainly I would imagine the most popular quiz board game which is not linked to a successful TV show. This intriguing ‘mini version’ of the game is an attractive. I don’t know, but I wonder whether Drummond Park discontinued this version, and it was being sold off cheap, since I picked it up for about 30p plus p and p from Amazon. The job of the mini game, I guess, is to get you excited about the game so that you buy the full version. It must be said that it works, too. After playing this one with me Jess decided that she was going to buy the full version for my birthday. Aren't I a lucky Dad?

The Best of British (Drummond Park)

Isn't it wonderful when one of your kids just out of the blue pulls off something you'd be proud of yourself?My youngest daughter Jess, while on her way home after visiting her brother in Cardiff had the brainwave of checking out a charity shop on the way to the station. In it she found this, for the princely sum of £1.50. £1.50, I ask you, and as good as new! I couldn't have done better myself. It's humbling really.

I'm not going to go on and on about this as it's another of the Logo family of games. The mechanics are the same as the TV and Movies game, and why not? It works. this is possibly a little more wide ranging than either of the previous two games, since the cards ask about anything, so long as it has anything to do with Britain. As a result my first thought is that it favours the more serious quizzer more than the other two games do, and there's far less chance of the quizzer losing than in the previous two games. Still good family fun though.

The TV Times Quiz Game (c.1984?)

Older readers might well be familiar with this game. It was another of those that came riding along in the wake of the original Trivial Pursuit. They shifted quite a few of these back in the day, and it's a tribute to the robust nature of the materials used to make it that there are still a lot of these sets about out there. As for the game itself - There are questions in 8 categories of cards. Each player has their own scorecard, and there is a master scorecard. Each player takes turns to spin two spinners to choose the category of card, and the number of question on the card that they answer. Get it right, and you can mark off one of the three spaces on your scoreboard. When you have answered three in the same category, then you answer a channel hopper for that category. Get it right, and that's one point on the master board. Once you've worked you've answered a channel hopper for each category then that's it, you've won.

In my opinion it really doesn't suffer too badly from having no board or dice. The game's best feature is a very clever gadget. You see, the answers are printed on the back of each card, but you can't read them. Then you pop them in the gadget, and hey presto, the answer is revealed. That's neat.

It's an old game, and the questions are equally venerable. Which does make it a) a real test if you were around at the time, and b) impossible if you weren't. But I have to say that it is one of the better games of the genre.

The Great Penguin Bookchase (2009 – Tony Davis)

 

I’ll come clean about this one. I’ve never seen it in a car boot sale, or a charity shop, and so I ended up buying this one myself on eBay. Why put myself to this trouble and expense over a game I’d never even played before? Well, firstly the fact is that on the photographs I’d seen of the game it looked visually highly interesting. Secondly, many years ago I took a degree in English Literature, I’ve been teaching it since Nineteen Hundred and Frozen to death, and I’ve even written an English Literature quiz book for the kindle. So you can see that this is something of an interest of mine. This game was originally released as just Bookchase in 2007, and rebranded with the Penguin connection a couple of years later.

 

As you’ll see if you read the whole of this section of the website, relatively few trivia or quiz games approach the production values or the visual appeal of the original Trivial Pursuit sets. This one in my opinion at least equals it, and in fact maybe even surpasses it. In fact the board is remarkably similar to a TP board. It too is a six spoked wheel, although the spokes are not joined with each other. The game play is simple.Like Trivial Pursuit you have to visit different areas of the board to pick up 6 items. In this case your playing piece is a bookshelf, and you pick up little facsimiles of penguin books to place on the shelf. Each spoke is one of the colours of the original penguins. If you land on a square, then you have to answer that colour question from a card. If you get it right, then you earn that colour book. Once you have each of the six colours on your bookshelf, then you race back to the centre hub. You have to throw exactly the right number with the two dice to land on the hub, and once you’ve done it, then you win.

 

There are a couple of randomizing factors in the game. Firstly each player is given a library card at the start of the game. There are three additional squares sited around the board – the book shop, the book corner, and the book library. There are a few features of this game that remind me of features of Monopoly. For one thing there’s two dice. Roll a double and you roll again. Roll three doubles and there’s a sanction applied – all very Monopoly. Spaced on each of the six spokes there are several grey sanction or award spaces. If you land on these you pick up a sanction or award card. These are the equivalent of Chance and Community Chest  cards in Monopoly. Some allow you to pick up books you need, and some mean you have to give books away. Any books you have to discard go to the Book Corner. If you land on the book corner, then you can pick them up. It’s not in the official rules of Monopoly, but a lot of families play with the local variation that any fines incurred go onto Free Parking, where the first person to land there picks up the windfall. This is how the book corner works in this game. If you land on the Book Library, then you can borrow one book if you’re over 18, and two if you’re 18 or younger. If you pick up a book voucher from the sanction or award cards, then you go to the bookshop and pick which book you need.

 

The sanction or award cards do add a tiny bit more sophistication to what is otherwise a rather simple game. However they do make it possible to pick up all the books you need eventually without needing to answer any question correctly. The endgame is a bit frustrating as well. When the game was finally delivered I played three games with my youngest daughter Jess. On each of them I filled my bookcase considerably before Jess did, but just could not roll the required number to land on the hub. She did. At least in TP you get a chance to stymie your opponent by picking the hardest question you can find for him or her to answer. Nothing like that in this. It means that the element of chance can be a lot more important than the element of knowledge.

 

There are two versions of the game. In the short version, once you have answered, for the sake of argument, a red question, then it doesn’t matter if you land on a red square again, and if you do, nothing bad happens. In the long version, if you land on a colour for a second time, then you have to answer another question. If you get it wrong, then your book of that colour goes into the book corner. This version lessens the influence of chance to some extent, but it still means that you are subject to the whims of the dice for the end game.

 

It’s a stunning looking game, about a subject I feel I know quite well and I love, so I wish I liked it a bit more than I do. It’s not bad, but I can’t help wishing the end game was a little more demanding, and knowledge gave you more of an advantage, and pure blind luck less of one.

 

Originality – There are features of both Trivial Pursuit and Monopoly married together in this one. I do think that you’d be hard pressed to make a case that this game is particularly original at all. It’s very hard to escape from the obvious similarities with TP.

 

Visual Appeal – The graphic designers responsible for the look of the game should take a bow. The box itself is a huge facsimile of an orange Penguin book. It does mean that there’s a lot of wasted space inside it, since all of the game paraphernalia could easily fit within a TP sized box. The board is a thing of beauty, all of the coloured squares reproducing the covers of specific penguin books. The pieces are sturdy and appealing. Visually this is a stunning piece of work.

 

Gameplay – I think that the board looks good, but in practice having to pass back through the central hub continually is a bit of a pain in the backside. I think that there’s a basic problem at the heart of it, though. Bearing in mind that the majority of people who buy or play the game would probably be people who like books and like reading, the mechanics of the game go way too far in giving the person with little or no knowledge of the subject a chance. Every question is multiple choice, and as I said the sanction or award cards and the book corner mean that you don’t actually need to answer anything correctly in order to collect all the books you need. After all, if you make luck the paramount deciding factor, then you might just as well play Ludo.

 

Questions – Well actually they’re not bad. However they are multiple choice, which I don’t like. Not only that, in three games we came up against half a dozen questions in which all three of the choices were correct, so that you couldn’t get the answer wrong. As if pure blind luck wasn’t already negating knowledge enough in the game.

 

Family Play – Of course the irony of all of this is that the features I don’t like about the game - the huge part that luck has to play within it – makes it more suitable for family play then many of the games in my collection.

Sporting Triangles ( c. 1987)

Do you remember Sporting Triangles? maybe not. They do say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and it’s certainly true when it comes to television. If one side comes up with a successful format for a show, you can bet that sooner or later another will try something similar, usually to less effect, this being one of the central tenets of televisions law of diminishing returns. Sporting Triangles was ITV’s late 80s attempt to come up with a serious rival to the BBC’s evergreen “A Question of Sport”. Rounds were different ( slightly ) from AQOS, and there were three teams of two rather than two teams of three. Other than that there really wasn’t a lot of difference. ITV even poached Emlyn Hughes from the BBC show. It limped on from 1987 to 1990, and that was that.

 

This, then, is the board game version of the show. The first series of the show was actually played inside a giant electronic board, with dice, not that we need to bother with ourselves with that here. The debt that this game owes to Trivial Pursuit is very obvious. For a start the box is almost exactly the same dimensions of a TP box. The board unfolds in exactly the same way as a TP board. Alright, instead of the great wheel of knowledge on a TP board you get a triangle divided into coloured segments. Personally I don’t find this board as visually attractive as a TP board, but each to their own, I suppose. You get one box of 3000 questions. You also get one triangular peg board, and this serves as the wscoreboard for all teams/payers, and a set of brightly coloured pegs which can be placed in the scoreboard.

 

This then is the idea of the game. Between two and four teams/players can take part. each takes their own triangular playing piece, and can start from any corner of the triangle. A dice is rolled, and you move clockwise around the triangle. If you land on a red, then you have to answer the red question from the card. Likewise if you land on the green or the yellow segments, then you have to answer the question for the coresponding colour. If you get it right, then you earn one peg to place on the scoring board. Each player/team has their own segment of the scoring board to fill. Some of the questions are designated bonus questions, and you earn two scoring pegs for answering these correctly. If you land on a white segment, then you answer from the black and white questions on the back of the cards. You get to pick A B or C. Since these are (allegedly) harder, you automatically get two scoring pegs for answering correctly. Whether you get your question right or wrong you automatically pass on the go to the next player after each time you answer a question. You either play through until one player/team has filled up their sector of the scoring board, or set a time limit at the start of play, and whoever has the most pegs at the end wins. It really is that simple.

 

Which is the beauty of it really. It really isn’t difficult to play at all, although it is of course complicated by the fact that it was made in the 80s and so a lot of the questions are over 20 years out of date. You can’t blame the game for that. A Question of Sport was miles better than the show Sporting Triangles, but at least I can say that I prefer this game to the Question of Sport game of a similar vintage.

 

Originality – I do wonder how they managed to avoid being’done’ for plagiarising TP. I’d guess that they made it as similar as they possibly could, and then stopped, building in just enough difference to avoid litigation. But this is essentially a chase around the board answering questions and picking up tokens game. And we all know who started that, don’t we?

 

Visual Appeal – You wouldn’t have been in any doubt what this is when it first came out, certainly. Everything about it shouts trivia game. In my opinion it isn’t as visually appealing as Trivial Pursuit, but nonetheless I like the triangular peg board, and the whole think has a reassuring chunkiness about it.

 

Game Play – There’s a certain no-nonsense simplicity about this. It really is about answering more questions correctly than the other guy. I played through a game in about 30 minutes, which is absolutely fine. It’s also a plus point that you’re not hanging around for ages waiting for the other player to get something wrong, as you can be with other, more well known trivia games.

 

Questions – Well, it is a specialist game, and it’s not the fault of the makers that sport is one of those subjects where information does tend to get out of date , far more so than in other knowledge categories. So I don’t blame the makers for that. I do blame them for a slight tendency to allegedly ‘jokey’ workding of questions – for example “Which 100 cap England captain was never wrong?” – The answer, as I’m sure that you’ve worked out for yourself , is Billy WRIGHT. Ho ho ho. This sort of thing, frankly, I can do without.

 

Family Play – If you wanted to play it with your family then unless your family are sports fans whose memories go back past the 80s, you’d have to use the board and scoring system with a totally different set of question cards. Which you could do, to be fair. But then you could do that with Trivial Pursuit, which has a nicer board anyway.

 

Websters Yorkshire Bitter Go For Gold Game (c.1985)  

This is a little bit of an unusual item, as I'm fairly sure it was never really mass produced, but made as a promotional item for Webster's Yorkshire Bitter - hence the name of the game, and hence the very heavy branding on the game. There are other features that mark this out as a promotional item as well. We'll come to those in a minute.

The game is another trivia chase. The board consists of concentric circle tracks. Each track is made of many segments. On the outer ring these each belong to a single question category, with the exception of the Qualify segments. You roll the dice. You take your plastic beer can token - what else - and move your piece the number of segments you have rolled. Whichever number you have rolled, you move that number of segments.Whatever category you have landed on, you answer a question from the card. Get it right, and you can roll once , and only once, again. Get it wrong and stay where you are until your next turn. Once you complete a lap, then you have to land on a qualify segment. Your opponent chooses the category of question. Get it right, you move to the next circle inside. Get it wrong, you keep going round the outer. The inner laps are much the same, only they're shorter. When you move onto the gold medal at the inside - through answering a question of your opponent's choice, then that's it. You win.

 

Pros and cons? Pros - the game was made in the mid 80s, and that's where a lot of the questions are from. I was mad keen on sport at that time, and so these suit me pretty well. They're not so easy as I'm guaranteed to get everything right, but not so hard as to preclude me from answering any.

Cons - there is only one pack of question cards. This pack is the size of a standard set of playing cards. There are only 56 cards within it, and I went through all of them in less than one game. This means that although I didn't use every question, I did end up with some repeat questions being asked. Now, if you were paying the going rate for a trivia game of the time, then I would say that you had been shortchanged. However this was a promotional item. If you had to send away a number of tokens and a nominal fee for p and p, then I'd say you got a pretty good deal. If it was actually given away, then I'd say it's really good.

Originality - Well, no. It's a pretty standard quiz chase, and the end game - opponent selects category of question to be answered - is pure TP.

Visual Appeal - The board is really rather impressive. In fact , for a promotional item, very impressive. Even the dice and the playing pieces are certainly nothing you need feel ashamed of using. But the box is extremely long and flat, and made out of flimsy cardboard. There's acres of unused space within it, which I don't like. But then, if it was given away in the first place. . .

Gameplay - Perfectly alright without being desperately gripping. At least you cannot move from an outer track to an inner track without answering correctly. This means that the person who knows the most correct answers should have a good chance of winning. Eventually.

 

Questions - A strength for me. Alright, they happen to suit some of my areas of knowledge rather well, but they're well written, and interesting. Every bit as good as the TP Sport extension set, which was pretty much contemporary with it - I just wish there were a lot more cards with the set. But then , if it was given away in the first place . . .  

Family Play - Naahhh

Mars World of Entertainment (1988 – Promotional Item)

 

I had a very sweet tooth when I was younger. Well, I still do, although since I’ve developed type 2 diabetes I try never to let it eat. Still, back in the good old days I loved chocolate, and the classic mars Bar was a particular favourite. So I was absolutely delighted to discover this promotional item, and more than that, to discover that it’s actually rather good.

 

Like the Websters Go for Gold Game this was a promotional item made in the late 80s in the wake of the Trivial Pursuit boom. In the small box you get a fold up board, a set of counters, a dice, and a pack of playing cards. The cards each also have 4 entertainment questions on them. The board is divided into squares.. Each square has a number between one and six, and a category symbol on it. So you roll, let’s say a 3. You can pick any square with a three on it. The symbol denotes which question you get asked – TVand Film – Music – Stage – Pot Luck. If you get it right, then you put a counter on the square, and that square is now yours. When you get 6 squares in a line – vertical, horizontal or diagonal, then that’s it, you win.

 

So it’s a bit strategical. That’s a plus. The questions are fine – way out of date, of course, but then that’s the nature of the beast. Considering it’s a promotional item it looks fine too, and the pack of cards particularly is very nice and stylish. The quizzer wins it hands down, and that’s always a plus for me too. Nice little thing, well worth the couple of quid I paid for it on eBay.

A Question of Sport ( 1987 ) 

This one isn't really in the forefront of great trivia games to be honest, and is more of a sentimental pick than anything else. I was actually quite a fan of AQOS during the days when Bill Beaumont and the late Emlyn Hughes were the team captains, and this game certainly shifted a few copies in its day, albeit that it first emerged a good three years after Trivial Pursuit hit its peak of sales in the UK.  I played this many many years ago, and when I started writing this page about the games that I already own, it did strike me as a game which probably should be here as a fair example of the kind of thing that came in trailing in the wake of Trivial Pursuit. I saw one set in a car boot sale, and asked the seller how much he wanted. £8 was too rich for my blood, however an hour later the same morning I saw the same game at another car boot sale, and got it for a price much more to my liking.

As a game it has a fundamental flaw - which really isn't it's fault. Sport questions, more than many other categories, go out of date fairly quickly. For example, asking who has been the only person to be a member of the Pools Panel since its inception in 1963 is going to be way out of date. Out of interest, the answer in 1987 was Arthur Ellis - referee of the world cup and It's A Knockout . This is a bit of a shame since someone has obviously put a bit of thought, time and effort into producing this game. It's a quality item which faithfully reproduces the rounds of the show which were in use in 1987.

To get down to brass takcs, then, this is how the game works. Play it as individuals or as teams. One person/team is the late Emlyn Hughes' team, the other is Bill Beaumont's. Roll the dice. You can either answer the question on the card corresponding to the number on the dice, for a point - OR - you can take the away question at the bottom of the card for 2 points. You may find that you've got a card which means you have to identify a face from the picture board, which is worth two points, or which means that you have to do the one minute round. It's all good clean fun.

Originality - I do think that this is a little bit of a redundant category for a TV spin off game. After all the whole point is that the game should try to reproduce the experience of playing in the show as closely as possible. Which it does at least as successfully as the University Challenge and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire games. It's certainly not a rip off of Trivial Pursuit.

Visual Appeal - The box adheres quite faithfully to the Trivial Pursuit template - nice green colour, big and chunky, and made of thick card. Which is probably one of the main reasons why you can still pick up copies of these games over 2 decades later. You get a lot for your money, although its not a board game, so lacks the central visual focus provided by the TP board. Still, however you look at it this is a quality item.

Gameplay - Oh, but this tries hard. Picture board, one minute rounds, home and away , what happened next. If you liked the show, when you played this back in the late eighties I bet this was a blast. But alas, more than most categories, old questions in sport just don't work really well.

Questions - Despite what I've already said about the questions, I do think that some of these will be useful in setting quizzes in the future - as a source of 'classic' sport questions. Time and effort has been put into putting these together.  

Family Play - Not now, and not my family. Actually, I say that, but it's the sort of thing my son would enjoy, even with the old questions.

A Question of Sport ( The Games Team – c. 1991)

 

The earlier game, with the green TP sized box is rather more common than this one still. This one is a full fledged board game. The board, which is based around the show’s 1990s QS logo, allows four teams/players to indulge in a race along the board. You can only move forward by answering questions correctly. You place your counter on the start, which is helpfully marked START in order to avoid confusion. Roll the dice. This is not a normal dice by the way. Two sides have the number 1, 2 have the number 2, and 2 have the number 3. One of the opposing team picks the first question card from the pack. Now, there are different types of card. The majority correspond with an individual sport. Some are called Away questions, some are picture cards which challenge you to guess who it is, and some of them are one minute round cards. The number you roll on the dice tells you which question on the card you have to answer. On the back of the cards are 4 answers to each question, and the correct one is marked with an asterisk. If you want, you can be given the 4 options. If given the 4 options, you get to move one space if you answer correctly. If you don’t use the clues, then you get to move two spaces if you answer correctly. There are no clues on the picture cards, nor on the one minute round. However there is an egg timer to make sure you don’t cheat, and a lot more points, and therefore space, available to you.

 

I’m sorry if it sounds complicated, but it really isn’t. In some ways the mechanics of it aren’t a million miles away from the rival Sporting triangles Game. That’s a strength. There is a drawback of course, in the way that this game was made in about 1991, and so there are a lot of questions which require detailed knowledge of sport in the 80s. I do well in certain sports – boxing and athletics being two of my favourites, but struggle on others. If you play against yourself as well, then you can’t access the clues without seeing which one is the correct answer which is a little bit of a drawback. Nonetheless I have to say that this is frankly easier, less fiddly, and if I’m honest, more fun than the better known earlier game. Not bad at all.

 

Originality – Well it’s certainly not trying to be a Trivial Pursuit clone, which is to its credit. I mean, it really is a straightforward race game, and so it won’t wow you with its level of sophistication. But it works, and that’s more than you can say for some games you’ll see on this page.

 

Visual Appeal – We’ve moved away from Trivial Pursuit type values in the packaging here. This is described as a family board game, and the box has no pretensions at being anything other than exactly that. But don’t worry, even though the box seems aimed at the kids end of the market, the questions certainly aren’t.

 

Gameplay – As I said, it’s really not complicated. However there is a certain compulsion to it, a certain thrill when you get a picture card which tend to be easier, or a card for a sport you actually know anything about, or best of all a one minute round card with the potential for making a turbo charged run up the board. Better than quite a few I could name, and if I’m honest, more fun than the original QOS game.

 

Questions – It’s very top heavy with questions from 1987 – 90, which is something of a drawback. However if you play for long enough you’ll encounter some which will really test your sporting knowledge. For example, I was delighted to be asked – which world boxing champion scored the greatest number of knockouts. Alright, I was glad to be asked it since I knew that it was Archie Moore, but even so it’s a good, hard question.

 

Family Play – In big letters the box tells you that this is the new Family board game with all the fun and challenge of the TV show. Well, unless you were a particularly sporty family in 1991 I can’t see this having anything like the same sort of family appeal as Monopoly or , heaven help us , Cluedo ( ugh, Cluedo) . Nowadays, forget it.

 

A Question of Sport - Rugby

A Question of Sport - Soccer

These two are the same mid 90’s era as the overall game above. I’ll deal with them together since they are essentially the same game, albeit that one is rugby based, and the other football. You get a small board made of thin card. It’s green, and it’s printed with the white lines appropriate to a football pitch or a rugby pitch. You have a set of counters, which you place on spots on a track marked on the board. The idea of the game is this. You answer a question on the card. Which question you answer is determined by the colour of counter on that space. If you get it right, then you get to pass the ball token upfield to an adjacent counter. Answer another question. Get it right and you can keep passing all the way to the goal/try line. Get it wrong and you pass the ball over to the opposition. You set a time limit, you add up your scores at the end, and as in the real sports, the team with the highest score at full time wins.

 

What you get is, I suppose, Subbuteo with questions, really. No, if you asked me I’d tell you that I’m more into international rugby union than football. Yet I found the football questions as a whole easier than the rugby ones. Why should this be? Well, partly because football questions come up in pub quizzes with a great deal more regularity than rugby questions even in Wales. Partly though it’s because the cards often contain questions on Rugby League as well. Now, I’m not one of those ignorant Southerners who hasn’t got a good word to say about the 13 man game. Rugby League is a fantastic sport, great to watch in its own right. However the fact is that I can’t claim to have anything like as good a knowledge of it as I do of union. But even the Union questions aren’t that easy to recall compared with the football ones. Oh well, it’s all part of the fun.

 

Of course I like the pair of them. The points scoring makes it something rather different from a traditional chase, or question quest, and that’s all to the good.

A Question of Pop (BBC 2000)

 

I don’t know if you remember “A Question of Pop”. It only lasted for 2 series, which pales into insignificance against older brother “A Question of Sport” It came to life in 2000, and basically it was very much the same format as “A Question of Sport”, except that the questions were all about music rather than sport.

 

Let’s get to the game, then. I saw this one, box a bit battered and dirty, but contents all there, in a car boot sale going for a couple of quid. I wouldn’t have bought it otherwise. There are several features about this game which mean that I really shouldn’t like it at all. And yet . . .

 

It’s a little fiddly to set up, for a start. There are several different types of question card, all of which needed to be sorted out, and placed in the correct space on the board. The board itself folds down just like a trivial pursuit board, but rather like the more recent of my two Question of Sport games, it presents you with a straight – Start to Finish Race. Actually I say straight, but there’s a little more to it than that. The basic mechanics of the game are as old as the hills. This is a variation on the ludo theme – or dare I say it, the Frustration theme. Two teams / players have four pieces, and the aim of the game is to get all of the pieces home. Home , at the centre of the playing area, is a singles chart, with places running down from 1. Add  up the total score of your pieces when the last piece makes it onto the chart, and the team with the lowest score wins. Like frustration, if you are lucky enough to land on one of your opponent’s pieces, then you can send it back, although only to the appropriate stop sign on the board. The track has many squares which have signs on them – roll a dice again, go back one space, stop where you are – nothing too original and nothing too difficult to get hold of. However lots of squares also tell you to spin the spinner. That’s where the questions come in.

 

Yes, the board has a spinner, cheap and fiddly as it is. When you land on a spinner square, you spin it, and the arrow will stop on one of the six categories of question, and that’s what you have to answer. It’s well worth answering the questions too, as they give you a boost of several spaces, which you can use for more than one counter. I haven’t played another quiz game quite like this one, where the questions are so subordinated to the movement around the board. To that extent it’s a well planned game.

 

Now, had I read everything I’ve just written before I’d actually played the game I would have told you categorically that this wasn’t for me at all. Yet surprisingly I found it quite compelling when I road tested it. Juggling four pieces brings a certain amount of tactical thinking into it – far more than in Trivial Pursuit or its clones. I enjoyed the questions as well, although the cards are very small, and fiddly. You can play the question cards by themselves on your own, but it’s not easy, since questions and answers are both on the same side of the card – a drawback. As a whole, though, this is a board game of which questions are just one integrated and necessary part. The majority of quiz board games are just question cards to which a board game has been attached in a rather uneasy marriage. In fact, I enjoyed it more than the original Question of Sport Game.

 

Originality – No, it certainly isn’t original. This is ludo with questions. But – and I feel that I should stress this – it does work. You can’t say that about all of the games in my collection.

 

Visual Appeal – The box is what you want from this sort of game, and the board is reassuringly large and robust. But the question cards! Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Small, fiddly and flimsy. Didn’t anyone ever tell the designers that this sort of quiz board game is meant to be a luxury item? Failing that, even a small box inside the big one to keep them in would be a start.

 

Gameplay – As I said, the actually gameplay on the board is more interesting and more tactical than you might expect. Once you start getting to the spinner, and answering questions right so you can move two counters at once it gets very interesting. What I would say though is that the rules don’t make something clear. I land on a spinner. It tells me that I can move one piece five spaces and another 3. Both pieces land on spinner squares. Do I spin twice, or just once? It just doesn't say in the rules. (For the sake of simplicity I decided on just once )

 

Questions – These are quite clever. If you ignore the fact that they are printed in such a way as to make it difficult to play against yourself with just the cards, many of the categories give you sets of clues, with you earning more spaces for the fewer clues you lose. One category – question master’s bonus – seems to be made almost entirely of really simple questions, or silly forfeits such as “Sing the whole of Bohemian Rhapsody in 30 seconds.” Not only that, but some of the Guess the Year cards are just blanks! Quality control? Don’t make me laugh.

 

Family PlayOne of its strengths for me is that it has questions from 2000, when it was made, right back into the 50s and early rock and roll. However this does give a big advantage to the older quizzer. However the board game features of this would definitely have appeal to younger members of the family. You could easily adapt it to use the board and spinner with a question set from, say, the Trivial Pursuit Family edition.

The $64,000 Question - (c. 1990 )

I don't know if you remember this early 1990s revival of an old quiz show, but it was fronted by Bob Monkhouse, and offered the highest prize you could win on british TV up to that time, £6400. Well we were still several years away from "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire". What do you get for your money in this set then ? Well, a board you have to fit together like a jigswaw, which is a little cheap, and very reminiscent of a Trivial Pursuit Board, only nothing like as attractive. Pick one of the tracks to follow  - it really doesn't matter which. Roll a 10 sided dice to decide which category you get asked. Then answer the question from the game car dto move onto the next step on the rising money trail. Once you get to a certain level you have to answer 2 questions - then three - then more and so on until you get to the centre of the board. Answer all the questions on the card, and you're there.

It really is that simple, and this is a strength. The game moves very quickly, especially if there's just the two of you. The categories are a bit arbitrary, and not all of the questions on each card really fit the category at all. Some of the questions are badly written, and some of them are just plain wrong too.

But I like it. It's a no nonsense quiz game. No picking up bits of this and other bits of that, just get the questions right and move on, or get them wrong and move back. On the minus side, there aren't a huge number of question cards for each category, and there really isn't much of a progression in difficulty of the questions. Some of the £800 questions for Science are miles harder than what cmes after, for example. But I like it.

Originality - Not very original, but then it's pretty much a pure quiz, which I actually approve of.

Visual Appeal - I would say that it has not stood the test of time, except that I doubt that it was really that impressive when it was brand new.

Gameplay - As I say, surprisingly good. Going back a step is frustrating, getting the final set of questions right is pretty satisfying. There is no tactical side to this game, though. Well, not unless you count getting as many of the questions right as you can as a tactic anyway.

Questions - Current Affairs and Politics are two categories and they are understandably way out of date, as is sport. Add to that the fact that the questions are not brilliantly well written, and some of them are wrong. but you can always play it with other questions.

Family Play - Being the game that it is the quizzer always wins.

Channel 4’s Ad-Mad Game (1996 – Upfront Games)

Well, well, well. The things you do find when you’re not looking. I’d never heard of this game, never had the slightest inkling that it existed when I saw it in a car boot sale. The size and shape of the box was enough to excite my interest – if it wasn’t a trivia game from the 80s or 90s, then it damn well should be. £2 sealed the deal. The best way I can describe this game is that in some ways it’s a little bit of a cross between Trivial Pursuit and The Logo Game. It’s like TP because you navigate your way around a board, answering questions to pick up pieces, and win when you’ve got them all. It’s like the Logo Game because the questions are on cards. Printed on one side is a picture, usually from an advert which aired at any time up to the mid 90s when the game was made. Printed on the other are a set of consecutive questions about the advert and the product being advertised. Alright, the Logo Game isn’t just about products, and I am not suggesting for one minute that the newer game plagiarises this one, but I dare say that if you were familiar with the Logo Game you’d be struck by the similarities of the cards in this one. There are drawbacks to the game. For one thing it’s very difficult to remember adverts from 20 years ago. For another thing the very prominent advertising of Sony on every card is a little annoying. That having been said, though, I really rather enjoyed this. An interesting item.

Eggheads (Britannia Games 2008)

I believe that Drummond Park (the Logo Game people) also made a game based on the popular BBC2 show, but this is the Britannia Games version. When a company tries to make a play at home game based on a TV original they have a dilemma they must confront. Do they pull out all the stops to replicate the game play of the show, making it incredibly complex, do they retain the flavor of the show while simplifying the gameplay, or do they do something which while it might retain the spirit of the show has little or no relation to the mechanics of it? This game plumps firmly for the second option. Although it's packaged in an attractive box that is pretty much the same dimensions of a Trivial Pursuit box - well, it is a quiz game after all - the fact is that this is essentially a card game. The box could easily be half the size and not be at all cramped. What do you get? 6 boxes of cards - 1 each for each of the original 5 Eggheads, and 1 general knowledge. Let's say there are five of you. Each of you picks an Egghead to play against. You pick three cards from the box. Each of them has one multiple choice question. Make your pick, then look at the back. That will show you if you had it right, and just as importantly if the Egghead had it wrong. You score more from the three questions than they do, well and good. Basically, if you eliminate all the Eggheads, then you only have to answer one GK question correctly. If you don't eliminate any, then you have to answer 5 .

The game looks good, and the cards are very nicely produced. But with only one question per card, and not a huge amount of them, you will exhaust them pretty quickly. Well, if you play the game a few times anyway. The Eggheads in this game get questions wrong which they would never get wrong in the TV show, but then the average Joe or Josephine would never get anywhere near them otherwise.

It's perfectly OK, but not great. I'd say that it's probably not the best value, but then I paid £1 for it in a car boot sale, so it would be extremely cheeky of me to start talking about value.

Nostalgia (Cheatwell Games)

 

Another charity shop special this one. What’s it all about? Guess from the title. It’s a very simple question and answer game. Your box has six packs of questions, two pencils, a set of score sheets, a rule and answer booklet, and two small pads of blank paper. The question packs are categorized thus : -

1) The 1960s

2) The 1970s

3) The 1980s

4) TV

5) Fads and Fashion

6) Jamboree Bag

One player picks a card from the 1960s box, and asks each of the questions, while each player writes down their answers on a piece of blank paper. Don’t worry, there are no answers on the cards, so the question master doesn’t have any unfair advantage.  You then find the answers in the booklet, having swapped papers over for marking. Record your score on the scoresheet provided. That’s about it – you can play a joker on one round for double points, but you have to announce which one before the start of the game. Add up your scores for each round at the end, and the one with the most points is the winner.

 

It really is that simple. Which actually is probably the best thing about this game.  This is nothing less than a quiz which is totally unashamed of being nothing more than a quiz, and I like that. However it isn’t perfect. The question packs are small, and they’re not as full as they could be either.  I think you wouldn’t need to play this game too many times before you really start to repeat cards. Some of the questions are not very well written or well phrased either. It’s a pretty good idea for a game, which lacks somewhat in the execution.

 

Originality – Well, no. But then I don’t hold this against the game. This is , as I said, a quiz that aims to be nothing more than a quiz, and that’s rather good.

 

Visual Appeal – Yes this is something that confuses me a little. There is no way that kids could get a very good score on this game. It’s obviously designed for adults, but the packaging , as you can see in the photo, looks like it’s geared to the kid’s end of the market. Everything looks just a little too cheap and cheerful about it.

 

Gameplay – You can easily play through the game in between 15 and 20 minutes. That’s fine, although it does highlight how quickly you’ll go through all the available questions if you enjoy it and play it a lot. But the mechanics of the game are simple and they work very well. It really isn’t a chore looking up the answers in the booklet.

 

Questions – I admit to being a pedantic purist. Which disclaimer means that I can now make the following criticisms. The fact is that having only  played it a few times the question sets have the distinct hallmarks of sets of questions which have been put together quite quickly. AS a result you get things like this . The cards tell you for instance, that the embarrassing TV extravaganza put together  by Prince Edward in 1987 was called ‘It’s A Royal Knockout’. All well and good, and it’s what most people who remember it at all believe that it was called. Except that it never was. The title of the event was the “Grand Knockout Tournament.” Does it matter ? Yes, actually, it does. A wrong answer is a wrong answer.

 

Family Play – This is what I don’t understand about the packaging. Age doesn’t just provide you with a distinct advantage in this game, it provides you with a huge one. This is just not a game for families, unless they are families where the parents want to reinforce their superiority to their kids by beating them hands down at games. And jeering at them afterwards.  

Give Us A Break - Paul Lamond Games (1987)

Give Us A Break was a feature of the Dave Lee Travis Radio 1 weekend show for a number of years. It was a general knowledge quiz, played according to the rules of snooker. I have something of a fondness for this quiz – not that I was a great fan of it on the radio, mind you. However the show gave rise to my favourite quiz machine of all time. The Dave Lee Travis Give Us A Break Quiz machine was the only quiz machine I ever made a significant amount of money from. In one carefree evening in 1990 my late friend Allan and I pulled a good £50 out of one in Llandeilo rugby club. Next time we visited a week or two later it had mysteriously disappeared. Happy days.

As for the play at home game that the quiz gave rise to , well, I have to say it’s not bad at all. The idea works like this. There are red, yellow, green, brown, pink and black sets of question cards. You answer a red question correctly, and then you get to answer a colour of your choice. Reds score 1, yellows 2, greens 3 – you get the point, it’s snooker scoring. Get a question wrong and your break is over, and it goes to the next player. Once 15 reds are answered, then you go onto the colours – again, normal snooker rules apply. What I like about this is that the cards do genuinely get more difficult as you get through the colours. Having said that there are certain categories which recur. Much to the delight of my twin daughters the blue set has a large amount of questions about the Beatles, for example. The Pink and Black sets are extremely difficult.I love that, but it does mean that a game can go on for a very , very long time before the black gets potted.

Originality – Well, to be fair this is one of the few games where the questions are supposed to rise in difficulty – and they actually do. Snooker rules adapt themselves surprisingly well to this format of quiz. To that extent it isn’t original , because it’s based on the radio quiz, which in turn is based on the rules of snooker. But at least this is not a jump on the bandwagon game.

Visual Appeal – The game is smaller than a board game, since it really isn’t much more than a box of question cards. The box is chunky, as you’d expect from a mid 80s quiz game, and the design of the cards themselves is a little bit plainer than those of TP, or the Waddington’s Masterquiz. I like the way that the rules are printed on the bottom of the box.

GameplayI actually like this one more than some of the others. This is partly because of the way that the degree of difficulty rises as you progress through the colours, and partly because there is some room for using strategy while you play. It’s an unashamed quiz game, but as I say, because of the level of difficulty of the hardest questions it can take an awfully long time to play through to the finish, which can be frustrating. The thing to do is to play within a time limit, and build the highest break you can within the timescale.

QuestionsI’ve already said something about the strengths and weaknesses of the question cards. There are certain preoccupations there, and if they coincide with your own areas of knowledge you certainly have a huge advantage. But they do represent a challenge, which is more than you can say for some games.

Family PlayActually I’ve road tested this with my youngest daughters, and I’m afraid it doesn’t really lend itself to Family Play. The strongest player can just keep picking off the yellows, or greens or browns, building up the break, while all the rest become more and more bored. Best played by quizzers of a similar level of ability.

Blockbusters ( Waddingtons – 1986 )

I don’t know what it is about Blockbusters, but I liked the 16 quiz books from the series, and I like this game as well. It’s all the more remarkable considering that I wasn’t a huge fan of the TV series. I had nothing against it, mind you. I thought it was a decent show for what it was, but it was never appointment TV  for me. Anyway, let’s get down to the game. This 1986 offering from Waddingtons was pretty popular in its day, like the TV series itself, and indeed was voted British game of the year in 1986. Gameplay is based on the TV series Blockbusters. This consists of a board made of 20 hexagons. Each hexagon contains a letter, or letters, which are the initials of the answers to questions. If you answer a question correctly, then you gain the hexagon. One team goes from top to bottom, the other from side to side. The first team to complete a line from one side of the board to the other wins the game.

What you get for your money here is a well constructed Blockbusters board of 20 hexagons. There are cardboard inserts with the letters for the questions on them.  Each team has its plastic plugs with which to cover the hexagons they have earned. There are 200 question cards. Each one is devoted to one particular letter, and has 12 questions.

As I mentioned earlier, this was a popular game which shifted a fair few sets in its time. As I write this in 2012, you can usually pick a set up on ebay, but even the cheapest won’t give you much change back from a tenner. I saw mine in a charity shop for £2, and for that price it was worth taking the gamble that it was complete. I’m very happy to say that it is. I suppose that what I like about this is how faithful it is to the original. You have to say that Waddingtons were crafty sods by not including Gold Run cards, so that you had to buy them separately. What I like about this as well is that you can easily make your own letter grids, and question sets, and that I’ve found a useful tool as a teacher, for starter and end of lesson activities as well.

The clever people at Waddingtons produced a seperate set of cards to be used for a gold run, which was a bit of a cheek. The gold run was an integral part of the show, and so it should probably have been included in the game from the start. Still, they did go some way towards making up for their omission when they released Super Blockbusters, in the picture opposite, which also included the gold run game.

Originality  You could say –no, it’s not original because it’s just like Blockbusters on the telly. But that’s the whole point of it. There’s not another quiz game quite like it out there – although it’s not a million miles removed from the old Criss Cross Quiz.

Visual Appeal   The question board is very nicely done – full marks for that. The question cards are extremely nondescript, though, although there is a nifty little gadget for helping you find the correct answer to each card without having to scan down all of them.

Gameplay  Well, there is a small, and probably churlish quibble. In the TV game it makes sense having a board where you have to get five right to get from side to side, and only four from top to bottom. After all, it was one person against 2. But if you play with even sides with the game, then it’s a definite advantage to go top to bottom.

Questions   Pretty much the same as the show, and you can’t  realistically expect much more than that. Most of them are pretty easy, but the odd one or two will give people problems. There’s 2400 of them, which means that this game isn’t going to last you forever. But then there’s no reason why you couldn’t make your own for this.

Family Play   It does have family appeal. Each individual game isn’t very long at all, which certainly helps, and the question level gives almost everyone a chance. Good stuff.

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire (1999)

It's confession time. I wasn't bought this one, and I didn't buy it out of any great affection. It's just that I had started putting this page together, and I've never actually played this - put off by the awful books and my own experiences on the show itself - great day, but wish I'd won more cash. I saw this in a car boot sale - dirty, broken corner of the box, looking very sorry for itself, and I took pity. I asked how much the seller wanted, and when I was told that I could take it away for 50p it was an offer I couldn't refuse. After all, I was buying it to roadtest, not as a decorative object. I didn't check that it was all there on the stall, so I guess it was a bit of a gamble, but a cheap gamble nonetheless, and one that came off too, since it was all complete inside the box.

As for the game itself, well, how do you turn a game that is essentially for one person and a question master on television into a game with up to 4 players playing at the time ? The solution is quite a clever one. Each player (or team ) has a little gadget . Each question is asked, and the player can select A,B,C or D on the gadget and then show when the question master reveals the answer. Get it wrong, and you're out of the round. Get it right and you can cash it in for the money which the question is worth, and add it to your total, and wait for the next round. Or you can continue up the ladder. At the end the highest money winner in the whole game wins. Smart idea.

Originality - Again this is a bit of a redundant category. The challenge of this game was making it like the gameplay of the show, which they have managed to do  while still being a team game. Someone put a bit of thought into the concept of this game, and as a result, it works.

Visual Appeal - If one was in a churlish mood one might say that the show always had far more style than actual substance as a quiz. That's a bit unfair. However the strong visual identity of the show lends itself well to the packaging, and the goodies inside. This is an appealing item - but then drawing on the experience of the 15 years since the height of the Trivial Pursuit boom it really should be.

Gameplay - Surprisingly good. I expected that this would be a lacklustre cash in like the annoyingly successful Boxtree books based on the show. Actually though the design of the game , with everyone playing along at the same time is a good one. Being able to bail out allows the weaker players to compete with headstrong quizzers, and also allows for some strategic/tactical thinking - and that's only to be encouraged in a game.

Questions - There are positives and negatives to say about this. Having really simple questions for the lower amounts means that everyone can play. The questions only really even begin to approach half decent pub quiz level at the £16000 mark. That's OK. What I would say, though, is that, as with the Boxtree books, there is a huge variation between the level of questions within the same amount of money. Some of the £1 million are no harder than the £32,000 and vice versa. Which is forgiveable since it's a level playing field for everyone - you all answer the same questions. But some of the answers - which only consist of a letter, are wrong. That's a shame.

Family Play - This is a game which actually can be played with the whole family , which surprised me. He or she who knows most does not automatically win - it's he or she who transforms what they know into cash most successfully who does.

The Weakest Link (Hasbro 2000)

 

You know, when Games designers decide to make a game based on a popular TV show there’s a dilemma they have to face, which a designer of a game from scratch doesn’t face. That dilemma is – do we make it a faithful representation of the gameplay of the show, or do we take the very basic idea of the game, but come up with something significantly different from the show, because we think it will make a better game? It is a genuine question, because both ways of doing it can be successful, and both ways of doing it can result in something rather dull and uninspiring. The nature of The Weakest Link was such that I would imagine that for the majority of the audience it wasn’t the questions that provided the main source of interest in the show. It was the voting, and the nastiness of the hostess. Presumably the majority of people buying this game would be regular viewers, and so these elements really needed to be built into the game somehow. The result was this, a very different quiz game.

 

In order to make the game work, you need at least 5 players. That’s quite a lot. Not only that, one of your five players has to be prepared to play Anne Robinson. The game even comes with an Anne Robinson mask for the question master. I shall be putting mine on the mantelpiece to frighten the grandkids away from the fire when they start walking. Whoever takes the part of Anne has a lot to do in the game. Firstly they have to ask the questions to each competitor. They have to keep moving the bank indicator, and keep track of where the team banks each time. The mechanics of the way this is done are actually very clever and work in practice. Then they have to conduct the voting. Again, this is clever. Each player has their own different coloured playing piece, which ‘Anne’ moves along a board each time they get one wrong, to keep track of the weakest link. Each player also has a voting wheel. In the voting round they move the wheel to select the colour of the player they want to vote off. It’s all perfectly clear and easy to do when you play it, and it does replicate the mechanics of the show itself very well. As in the show, the two remaining contestants battle it out in a head to head over 5 questions each. In the event of a tie, sudden death ensues until there is a winner.

 

Maybe I’m going soft in my old age, but I have to say that I really think that I appreciate what the designers have tried to do with this game.  It is very, very faithful to the original show, and with the right people playing, then I think you could probably have a blast with this game. It’s not my favourite quiz game – I wasn’t a huge fan of the show – but I can appreciate that someone has taken a lot of time and trouble to reproduce the mechanics of the show in this game, and they have done so extremely successfully in my view.

 

Originality – You either say that it’s not original because it is based so closely on the TV show. Or you say that as a quiz game there is nothing else quite like it out there.

 

Visual Appeal. Obviously they have to reproduce the visual style of the show as much as possible, and this they have done. There’s a lot of cardboard in this game, which is just a little old fashioned ( and slightly cheap looking too ) but I really like the mechanical timer that comes with it, though.

 

Gameplay. The big drawback is that you have to have at least 5 players. Many of the games you have on these pages can be played perfectly well with just two players and a little jiggling of the rules. You cannot do that with this game. The absolute minimum would be 3, and even then it would mess with the voting as well, even if each player used several tokens. If you do have at least 5 players, and they are all up for it, though, you can have a lot of fun with it.

 

Questions. The questions come in three varieties. There are the easy questions for the first couple of rounds, which are really easy, the medium questions for the middle rounds, which are really easy, and the hard questions for the last few rounds and the head to head, which are really easy. I’m not being horrible. The questions are really easy, but that’s just another example of the game being faithful to the TV show. In amongst the question packs are cards for ‘Anne’ to say before the voting rounds, a few choice insults to add the real flavor of the TV show.

 

Family Play. This is one of the few games where the best quizzer of the family is not only not guaranteed a win, but is actually highly unlikely to win. Any family worth its salt will vote off the quizzer at the earliest opportunity. Not that I think that families are necessarily the perfect punters for this game. Thinking back to my own University days, I would say that this is a ‘slightly drunk and just back from the pub’ game par excellence for students.

Q.I. (Paul Lamond Games 2011)

I think that anyone trying to make a game out of Q.I. was giving themselves several headaches. Firstly, it isn’t a game show. It is a panel show. Yes, it does follow a sort of quiz format, but it’s not one which readily lends itself to playing at home. Secondly the point of the show is proving that things you may think you know aren’t always true, and that the real facts are very often Quite Interesting. You score points either by answering questions correctly, which is unlikely, or by coming up with some interesting facts of your own. You lose points – many of them, by answering questions wrongly, in a way which sets off the klaxon because it is the expected wrong answer. You’ve seen the show , you know how it works.

So the question is , how do you translate this format into a game that is playable at home ? Paul Lamont’s answer is this, the Q.I. Board game. The game is played out on a board which is divided into two halve, the top mirroring the bottom. Each player only plays on one half of the board at a time, it doesn’t matter which. These halves of the board are traditional numbered tracks – along one line, then up to the next line and along that. It’s rather reminiscent of a snakes and ladders board without the snakes or the ladders. Move along the board, and the first to the end is the winner.

OK – so far so straightforward. Now, in order to move along the board you have to answer questions. All the questions are in a book. They are a bit of a mixture. Multiple choice – some of them are typical QI questions, and some of them are a lot more straightforward. Get it right, and move on. Get it wrong and you stay there. However, I haven’t mentioned the klaxon yet.

Yes, there is an electronic klaxon as part of the game. You see, some answers are klaxon answers, and incur penalties. Also, if you think someone else has given a klaxon answer, then you can set it off yourself, with various penalties and rewards .

This is not a seamless translation of a TV format in the way that both The Chase and Pointless are, and I have to say that it’s not as satisfying a game as they are.

Visual Appeal – I’ll be honest, the packaging is fine, and so is the klaxon, but as for the board . . . well it’s a little bit unimaginative. The question books aren’t that appealing to look at either.

Originality – The use of the klaxon is the really original feature of this game. It certainly isn’t a slavish copy of the TV show’s format, but then it couldn’t really be.

Gameplay – I found that the game itself was a little too simplistic for me. The klaxon livens it up a bit, and I’ll say more about the questions after, but at least these aren’t a generic and boring set .

Questions – From my point of view these are the best thing about the game. Alright, they wouldn’t all find their way onto the show itself, I’m sure, but these are better than a standard generic set of the type you get in many games and many card sets. The interest I had in the game came almost entirely from these.

Family Play – Therein lies the rub. The questions are too hard for families. I should imagine it’s Ok if everyone’s guessing, but if there’s one quizzer, or even big fan of the show among them, then not only will he win, but the others may end up with a thrashing, which isn’t really anyone’s idea of family fun.  

Criss Cross Quiz (Chad Valley c. 1958-1960)

Alright, I’ll come clean. This was not something which was given to me, and it was not something I bought from a car boot sale either. The thing about making a collection is that it can creep up on you. You don’t start out planning to make a collection, but someone gives you something that you really like, so someone else gives you something similar, and before you know it you’re collecting the things. When I saw this one on eBay, priced extremely reasonably considering how much people usually charge for it, I couldn’t resist.

Criss Cross Quiz was the ITV version of Tic Tac Dough, an American show from the heyday of the great American quiz show in the 1950s. Basically, it involved answering questions correctly, to get a turn at placing your nought or cross in a square on the giant board in the studio. The square you choose determines the category of question you get. If you’re thinking – sounds a bit like Blockbusters – I know exactly where you’re coming from. Certainly on paper the mechanics of both games seem pretty similar. I don’t remember watching Criss Cross Quiz at all because it lasted from 1957 until 1967, and I was only 3 years old when it finished its run on TV.

The Tell Me Quiz is older, but this is certainly the oldest TV tie in quiz game that I have at the moment.  Nowadays we don’t think anything unusual at all about a game tie in with a game show or quiz show, but I guess that this is a pretty early example of the genre. This was made back in the days before plastic was as ubiquitous as it was to become, and so all is made of good old sturdy cardboard. Although I’ve never seen the original show for reasons outlined above I’m guessing that it’s fairly faithful to the game play of the original show. It is a little fiddly though. You have a grid board, into which you fit the game card, and you spin to decide which square you try to answer. You have to open a window on the board to reveal the question, and another on the other side to reveal the answer. There are only 3 game cards, which have a different game on both sides. If you get a question right, then you mark your noughts and crosses on the board with chalk

I’ll be honest, it isn’t that great a game by the standards I grew up with in the 1970s, and it certainly isn’t great if you were brought up with Trivial Pursuit. But then it was never made to compete with these anyway, and I didn’t buy it to play it either. It’s very much a collection piece – which rather neatly brings me back to where we started.

Originality – Actually it scores quite highly , what with the spinning and the slotting cards into the board, and opening windows for questions and answers. If you have anything approaching a decent general knowledge the games are very quick, though.

Visual Appeal – Well, this was made in the 50s, and is older than I am, and with that in mind it’s in very good nick. Today , no , compared to things we’ve seen since it isn’t much to write home about. But by the standards of the day it was a quality item.

Gameplay – I haven’t a great deal to add to what I’ve already said. The games are very short, and there’s not enough questions on the cards to keep you going for very very long.

Questions – See above – not enough of them, but not without interest.

Family Play – Actually better for families than many games, bearing in mind that the games are short.

Telly Addicts (Waddingtons – c. 1990)

 

If you remember the TV show – and let’s call a spade a spade, it was very popular in its heyday – then you won’t be expecting anything too serious and taxing from this one.  Although the show claimed to be trying to find the most knowledgable family on the subject of TV in the UK, it really wasn’t much more than a bit of lighthearted fun. I mean, it was fronted by old Noel Tidybeard, for a start. So you kind of have to judge this game on its own merits for what it is. Mind you, that’s what you should do with any game, I suppose.

 

So what actually do you get? It’s another variation on the quiz chase game. You have 8 categories of cards, which you spread out around the board. You each have 4 star tokens to navigate round the board, and get home. So far, so much like Ludo. Around the board are special squares which correspond to either one of the categories of car, or to the ‘Hoofer Doofer’ cards in the centre.  Each of these gives the name of a show on one side of the card. Depending on the number spun on the ‘Hoofer Doofer spinner’ , you have to either mime the title of the show, hum the theme tune, or do an impression of the show. Now, the copy that Jess found in a car boot didn’t actually have the rules with it, so we guessed that a correct answer to a question meant that your go continued. First to get all 4 star tokens answers a question correctly to win.

 

Well, it is what it is. There’s a generous number of cards in this, which is all to the good. Yes, it’s very much a thing of its time, but since I’m guessing that this first saw the light of day in the late 80s or early 90s, you couldn’t very well expect it to be asking about a show which was on last Tuesday. It’s an amiable enough thing, and we managed to play through a game , getting all 4 home in about 25 minutes, which struck me as being just about right.

 

Originality – The hoofer doofer cards are the most original thing about it. You won’t really be playing it thinking that there’s anything particularly novel about it though.

 

Visual Appeal – Jolly enough, but a little dated.

 

Gameplay – As I said, this aspect is fine. The mechanics of the game all work perfectly well, and you can get through in a reasonable amount of time. The workings of the game – well, as we interpreted it anyway – mean that the non-quizzer still has a chance, with a kindly set of dice.

 

Questions – Plenty of them – good. Lots of categories – good. Dated – you can’t blame the game for that, though. I’d say that they are at least as good as the Trivial Pursuit TV edition questions, and the Barry Norman film and TV trivia.

 

Family Play – better than a lot

Today's The Day ( Spears Games 1994 )

You remember Today's the Day ? You don't ? Well, it was a successful enough BBC2 teatime quiz back in the mid 90s. The basic premise was answering questions about a specific date, and things which had happened on that date, or people who were born on that date etc.

Well, I will confess to thinking twice before shelling out a few quid for this one on Amazon Used and New. For one thing I acquired the Today's the Day Quiz Book a few years ago, and found it to be a huge disappointment. It looked fantastic, but delivered very little. So I was worried that this game would turn out to be the same.

This is a very basic move along the board from A to B, and fastest to get there wins sort of game. Roll the dice. Whatever number comes up on the dice, that's the number of question on the card that you have to be asked. Each card corresponds to a different day of the year, geddit ! ? . Answer it right and you move one square forward. To win you have to answer a question from the day which has been specifically selected and placed within the special envelope. get it wrong, and back you go , and so on until somebody wins.

It's not a great game, no, but it's better than the book. The board is tiny, smaller even than the Quizwrangle board, and it's rather unappealing. It's unpretentious though, and mildly diverting.

Originality - There's nothing really original about this game, apart I suppose for the fact that each set of questions is linked to a day of the year. Other than that it's a simple first past the post game which is as old as the hills.

Visual Appeal - this is probably the most interesting feature of the whole game. For a board game it is in a very small box - in fact it looks just like a box of trivia cards. Which is essentially what it is, apart from the fact that you also get a rather inadequate board with it. The question cards have questions only on one side, and the answers are in a seperate booklet - I'm not really sure why they would want to do that either.

Gameplay - Ok but not riveting

Questions - not too bad. Many of them you've heard before If you're a quizzer, but not all of them which is a good start. I don't like having the questions on card and the answers in the booklet. I'd have preferred it to have been either one or the other.

Family Play - You could do worse, but then it's probably nowehere near as good for family play as Trivial Pursuit ( and that's not great either ).

Britain's Brainiest (c.2002)

There is an old saying that everything comes to he that waits, and there’s a lot of truth in that. It doesn’t necessarily means that it is worth the waiting for, though. Since the collection started growing I’d seen this one on eBay a few times, but I have to say that when you added in postage and packaging the cost was too prohibitive. Well, on a Sunday morning car boot sale I saw this , and when the seller asked for a pound it seemed well worth a punt, even if it turned out to be a complete turkey. My daughter Jess thinks that’s exactly what this is. I wouldn’t go that far, but there are problems with it. I’ll try to explain.

 

I don’t know if you remember Britain’s Brainiest. In 2002 Celador, ruling the roost as kings of the TV quiz show with their Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, unveiled this show as “Britain’s Brainiest Kid”, then brought adults into it, with members of the same profession playing against each other in each show. It never caught on.

 

A lot of the criticisms you could level at the show you can level at the game. It’s rather fussy and fiddly. There’s several different sets of cards. There’s a game console. There’s a game handbook with a lot of the questions in it. There’s a timer. There’s two different types of scoring sheet. There’s several different types of card to use in the game console. Any game which needs this many different bits and pieces is on a loser before it starts in my opinion. Still let’s try to be objective.

 

The first round involves all contestants answering the same 12 multiple choice questions. Ho hum. Then the second round each contestant picks a category to answer questions against the timer – not unlike the specialist round in TV’s Mastermind. Not surprisingly this was my favourite part of the game. In the final round each player picks a category card. There are five questions on each of these. Then basically they have to uncover the right square on the game console to decide whether they get their own category for 2 points, their opponent’s for 3 points, or general knowledge for one point. Highest score at the end of this round wins.

 

Bits of this game remind me of bits of other games which came along later. For example, you only get enough Round 1 cards to play 12 different games. That’s not a lot, and it reminds me of the University Challenge game, which doesn’t have enough cards either. Using so many different types of cards for different rounds and games reminds me of the Pointless game too.

 

Overall, I think that if you compare this game to the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire game you can see why Millionaire was a success, and this show wasn’t.

Trivia Card Games

Of course you're probably thinking that all of the above have trivia quiz cards, and you're right. The distinction is these. Many of the games that I've liked haven't just had cards, other things have been involved. Now, I'm not the first to observe that when the Trivial Pursuit boom happened many people left their trivial pursuit boards, wedges and cheeses behind, and just played with the cards. Well, that's the principal behind each of the next set of games - they're just cards - albeit that many of them claim that the sets can be used with 'other popular trivia based board games'. Wonder which one they might possibly mean.

Football Trivia (Paul Lamond Games - c. 2002)

This actually came as a job lot with the older Question of Sport game. It's like anything else - when you actually start to give your attention to something, then you start to see it everywhere. I started to put this page together after I bought the Trivial Pursuit set in the Charity Shop, and after I did that I started to see trivia games everywhere - well , not everywhere, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but a lot more than I had previously. I wanted the Question of Sport game when I saw it on a car boot sale stall, and this wee box was sitting next to it. On an impulse I asked if I could have a discount on the Question of Sport game if I took this one as well. Now, the Question of Sport game was £3 - I was cheekily trying to get it for 2. The seller said he'd throw in this one for £3. Well, actually I didn't really want it, but as I would have been prepared to pay £3 anyway for the one game, I didn't quibble. What you end up with here, then, is a game not vastly different from the Give Us A Break Game described earlier, which is no surprise really since it's made by the same company who produced the earlier game. There's no snooker style scoring with this one of course, but it basically involves rolling dice to pick numbered questions from a card, and scoring points for what you answer. Nothing basically wrong with that either. Questions are surprisingly good. I worried that these would be exclusively about 1995 - 2002, but no , that's only one strand. Different numbers bring up different categories. There's lots of stuff here that I didn't already know- this is not a box full of gimmes. A good set of questions. 

Desmond Lynam's Sports Trivia (1986 - Paul Lamond Games )

I do love a charity shop. It's alright, you can say it, I won't be offended - I'm cheap. Quite right , and so are they , which is really the point. It's not only that, though. Charity shops can sometimes be repositories of unloved and unwanted trifles, which you just know would fit snugly into your own collection, and for a fraction of the cost you'd pay on ebay, the only other place you're likely to find such things. Not that I bought this one myself. My youngest daughter, well trained in the hunt for a bargain as she is snapped up these next two boxes herself. This one is by Paul Lamond Games, and is very similar to the football trivia game above. Once again you roll the dice - missing from this particular set - to choose a question from the card. These though are a mixture of all sports. A quite diverting game too, although suffering inevitably from the fact that the questions are so badly out of date. I notice that it's "Des Lynam's Sports Trivia ". OK. There's no Des on the box, and I'd lay odds that it wasn't the old silver fox himself who burned the midnight oil compiling the questions on the cards either. Still, there we are, if he made a few bob out of using his name then good luck to it. I'd certainly do it if my name was worth anything. It's diverting enough, but the fact is there's so much out of date. Winner is the first one to amass 40 points. Unless the players are old timers such as myself with surprisingly good memories then the games take a long time to play out.

Barry Norman’s Extra Trivia – TV and Movies ( Paul Lamond Games 1986 )

 

A stablemate to Des Lynam’s Sports Trivia this one, and I suspect that Barry Norman probably had as much or as little to do with this set as Des did with the one bearing his name. Well, whatever the case, it’s Barry Norman’s name, and if he can use it to make a few bob, then good luck to him. I know I’d do the same if my name was worth anything – unfortunately it’s not. As I said earlier, TV and Movie trivia doesn’t tend to go quite so much out of date as sports trivia, and so there’s still a lot of good stuff in this. Not bad value, if truth be told. There’s a ton of cards in here, and each bears a question from each of 6 different colour coded categories – thaat’s a lot of questions. A decent mix of levels as well, I’m always pleased to be asked stuff I don’t know, but which I might have been expected to know, and there’s quite a lot of these here.

I really like this set, but the problem for younger people is that they are old – it was made over 25 years ago , and so under 40s are going to struggle. This one also exists in a non-Barry Norman endorsed version as well, which you can see in the picture on the right.

Extra Trivia ( Paul Lamond Games c. 1995 )

I had no intention of buying this Paul Lamond set, until I saw it at a car boot sale. It was languishing in one of those ‘everything in this box is only 10p’ boxes, and I couldn’t bear to see a decent, honest set of trivia cards suffering such a fate. Well, that and the fact that at 10p, even if they were completely useless it was still cheap at the price. And they’re not completely useless. Each card has 6 questions on Pop, Sport, Entertainment, Nostalgia, General Knowledge and Food and Drink, and there are 300 of them. My guess that this came out about 1995 is based on the number of questions in the GK category about the 90s, up until 1994. The game is played in the same way as the other Paul Lamond games on this page, and this set did still have the dice inside the box. As a set for using with ‘other trivia games’ to quote the box, it’s probably better for me than the WH Smiths set.Cards are just monochrome, though, rather than colour coded, which seems just a little cheap.

TV Trivia (1998 - Games Talk

Yes, that clever daughter of mine went for a double, and bagged this one along with the Des Lynam Sport Trivia game. One glance and I thought that this was another Paul Lamond game, but actually it isn't. It's by a company called Games Talk, but the rules sheet tells me that this was developed exclusively for W.H.Smiths. Hmm - that didn't fill me with hope, if I'm honest with you. Actually though it's certainly up with many other games in this particular sub genre. You are given the option of playing three different games, one of which is pretty much the Paul Lamond format. The others involve either playing as individuals where everybody writes down answers to every question - for which the box conatins a nifty little scoresheet pad. The other is a team game, which individuals take it in turns to answer for the team - 2 points for a straight answer with no confering, and one point if they need to confer. It really isn't a bad game at all, and for some reason TV doesn't seem to go out of date quite so quickly as sport.As you can see from the photograph, there's little enough to make you think that this is a quality item. It also has the rather excruciating "What's on the box in a box !" on it, which is cringeworthy. The cards are mostly just red, and again, not all that exciting to look at. I thought that this was in danger of being like a bad TV quiz book, but there's stuff spread right through from the 50s up until the late 90s, when this first saw the light of day. There's stuff here I either didn't know or couldn't remember, and that's important for me , at least

Continuation Trivia (W.H.Smith – c. 1986

Here’s a question for you. What do you do when you have exhausted the possibilities of all the questions in the two boxes in your cherished Trivial Pursuit set ? Answer – you buy a box with more questions from W.H.Smith. Or rather they hoped that you would. Of course, it doesn’t mention Trivial Pursuit on the box – it couldn’t very well, could it ? But we all knew what they were supposed to be a contuation for, didn’t we ? This set does have its drawbacks. For one thing, if you DO want to use it to continue Trivial Pursuit, then I’m afraid that you can forget about your colour coded categories. The categories are randomly sacttered on each card. On some cards, for example, something vaguely Art and Literature could be the first question, on others it’s History, or Geography, or whatever. Leaving that aside for one moment, since the world doesn’t begin and end with Trivial Pursuit, the fact is that too many of the questions are of the ‘nobody knows that and nobody cares neither ‘ variety. Let me give you an example. Question – which percentage of women kiss with their eyes closed ?  Answer – who the hell gives a toss anyway ? The answer given , for the sake of disinterest is 97%, although how they arrived at that figure is another question in itself. But I don’t care. I can’t see that this little piece of knowledge will ever come in handy at another quiz, or anywhere else. Yeah, make it hard for me by all means, test me, make me get things I should know wrong, but above all else, don’t bore me. The designer of the box certainly knew what he or she was doing. You can’t say that it looks similar to a Trivial Pursuit box, but it has the same kind of values, if you know what I mean. Rich, dark chocolate brown fake leather covering, and gold lettering on top. Shame about the cards inside. Look at them in the picture. How unappealing are they ? How little effort and thought has been put into their appearance. Opening the box to find these inside is hugely disappointing.

Pop The Question ( Music Games - 2005 )

These were a Christmas Present. At first I thought the kids were taking the pee when I unwrapped these three boxes, as they looked like a set of Top Trumps. Remember them from their late 70’s heyday ? They made a comeback a few years ago, interestingly enough. But no, these are , as the name suggests, pop trivia cards. Well, I say pop trivia. Really what they do is give a series of increasingly obvious clues to the identity to an artist or group. I have nothing hugely against the concept as such. It’s more the execution. Don’t get me wrong, I somehow doubt that 40 something quizzers are the target audience anyway, but since I’m the one in possession here I can only judge them by my own standards. The things are attractively produced, yes, but I particularly don’t like the fact that both question and answer ( and photograph of the artist or band in question ) are on the same side of the card. You can’t really play this one by yourself. Also there’s not a huge amount of variety, either. There’s a lot more you could ask about pop than just who am I ? The cards come in six sets, of which I have three – More pop the question – 50s and 60s – Soul and Hip Hop.Maybe a whole set of who am I questions is a little different from the typical quiz cards. Not one I like very much, though.

The Great British Trivia Challenge ( Marks and Spencer )

I’m not really sure when these first saw the light of day. They’re produced by Marks and Spencer, who have had a fair old go at the Trivia game market in their time – never with the most amazing success in my opinion if truth be told, but I digress.

Unlike the M and S Pub quiz set I was bought a couple of years ago this set at least looks the part. I was bought them three or four Christmases ago. They’re somewhat larger than a standard set of playing cards, and as you can see from the photograph they certainly look rather good. However . . . there are some things I really don’t like about this set. For one thing there’s only 2 questions per card, the first of which is always a multiple choice. That’s incredibly stingy. When you realise that there’s only 90 cards in the pack, then that adds up to a measly 180 questions in the whole pack. Now, on the back of the pack it makes the claim “Are you the nation’s most knowledgable quizzer ? Are you up for a trivia challenge ? If so then this great game is for you . “ Cobblers. Most of these wouldn’t trouble an average pub quizzer. I know that you have to have confidence in your product, but please.There’s a fatal flaw in this set. You can’t really play it with yourself – because the answers are printed on the same side as the questions, and the right way up. It’s a real own goal considering how many people like to test themselves with question cards.

The Krypton Factor Quiz Cards ( Marks and Spencer 2009 )

 

I expected a little more from this than these cards actually deliver, if I’m being brutally frank. The Krypton Factor is one of very few ITV quizzes which could realistically lay a claim to the title of TV’s toughest quiz, although I would quibble and say that it was TV’s toughest game show, rather than a straight quiz. It started in the last 70s, and lasted in its original version, presented by the excellent Gordon Burns for the best part of 20 years. This set is from the late Noughties revival, though. Not that I hold that against it. After all, many revivals have been very successful and very good – University Challenge, and of course Mastermind, which I would never have won had they not revived it, to name but two.Enough of the background, then. As I said, this only replicates one part of the show, the General Knowledge round. In the Gordon Burns years the General Knowledge round often made a hell of a difference to the destination of the title, and they even had to downgrade it by using a finite number of questions, in no small part due to the staggering performance of Peter Richardson when he won. Still, I digress. I think that since this set bears the name of the Krypton Factor you have a right to expect a proper test. Well I’m sorry, but this ain’t it. This is a set which could be asked in any old pub quiz without presenting any quiz regular or even semi regular with the slightest difficulty. There’s 200 cards – and each card has just the one question, with both question and answer printed on both sides of the card, just to make it even more difficult to play by yourself. Very very disappointing.  I don’t know how much they cost when they came out in 2009 , but whatever it was, it was too much. Actually the cards look fantastic. But as they say, all that glisters . . .Fatally flawed, just like the Great British Trivia Challenge – which come to think of it was also an M and S product. You can’t play on your own. There’s only 200 questions here, and you’ll go through them like a dose of salts. Boring, boring, boring.

 

30 Years of Rock Trivia ( Time Life - 1990s) 

Kind of does exactly what it says on the tin – er – box. This little set contains 1200 questions on music. It exclusively trumpets rock on the box, yet I notice that Country and Western is actually one of the 6 categories on each card. Yes, each card contains six questions, each in a colour coded category. These are : - orange – number 1 hits ; yellow – swinging sixties ; green – films and shows ; blue - country and western; scarlet – selection category; crimson – album category. Just in case you hadn’t got the point from the colour coding, the box does tell you that the cards ‘can be used in conjunction with any of the other popular trivia board games’. Hmm, that wouldn’t be Trivial Pursuit by any chance, would it ? Alright, I’ll leave the sarcasm to one side for the moment. If you have any familiarity with trivia cards yourself you’ll already know that they can vary hugely in quality. I haven’t worked my way through all the cards yet by any means. Still,the questions seem pretty decent to me. All about music , of course, but then it is supposed to be a specialist set. A little flimsy  and small - production vaules are not especially high in this set.

Chronology

It's a bit of a funny old game this. Basically you try to get rid of your cards, by placing the events on each of them in chronological order. It's an original idea, but it doesn't make for the most riveting gameplay if I'm being 100% honest with you.

BBC Comedy Classics Trivia

My daughter bought this one for me from a charity shop. and very grateful I am too. She wanted to play it herself. However, this set was made during the 1990s. and each card has questions on each decade from the 50s right through to the 90s, and this was just too wide a selection for her. In some ways I struggled on certain categories too. There are few concessions made in terms of the questions about the 50s and 60s - in fact I would say that this is a really testing set of cards on a category which I pride myself that I know quite well.

Top of the Pops Trivia (Susan Prescott Games)

Alright - this was an ebay purchase for a couple of quid. It's appealingly packaged, isn't it? Still, make the most of this since the cards inside the box are very plain and non-descript.Categories are Miscellaneous - Classic Pop - Artists and titles 1980s - Artists and Titles 1990s - Lyrics and Albums - Pop Pickers. Well, I won't lie - the 80s is my era anyway. The way these have been put together is rather careless though. In just the first few cards I found a question about 1971 in the 80s category! It's an Ok set, but I think that the 20 years of rock trivia set is a bit better.

Floyd's Food Quiz

Another Paul Lamond set this one. Food and drink is one of those subjects that it's really useful to know a bit about for quizzes, since it recurs fairly often, and yet many serious quizzers would admit that it's a subject they don't feel confident about, and it's not one they enjoy very much. As I said, it's a Paul Lamond set, and it's getting on a bit in years now, so you know what you're going to get. I bought it in a car boot sale, and I think that the original owners tried one pack of the questions, then gave it up a s a bad job and never opened the box again. I say this because only one of the question packs within the box has been opened. Well, it was the end of the sale, the rain was coming down, and I offered the seller 50p. He nearly bit my hand off.

Gardeners Questions

I will admit that this was another of those 'only bought it because it was in a car boot sale for 50p and I felt sorry for it purchases. I haven't tried playing these to any great extent becuase, well, a horticulturist I'm not, and I don't have either the interest or the depth of knowledge I think that I'd need in order to be able have a good go at these. The box is nice enough, and the cards are no less sturdy than most. However they are just black and white, and certainly not the most appealing thing on the menu. Strictly for keen gardeners this one, I would say, though.

The Simpsons Trivia Game

This looks a lot more than it delivers. Oh don’t get me wrong, I was very grateful when my daughter found this waiting to be bought in a, yes, you’ve guessed it, charity shop.  But the words Trivia Game, and the size of the tin box did rather lead me to believe that there would be a little bit more to it than just a couple of packs of trivia cards – and not very big packs of cards either. I like the Simpsons a lot, and yet I still got a fair number of these wrong, which is a plus point. But I’d have been well angry if I’d bought this one full price.

Spot the Intro (Cheatwell Games )

I’m not sure exactly when this game was first made, but judging by the questions, and the intros used I would imagine it was either the late 90’s or early noughties. Bought for my birthday as a birthday equivalent as a stocking filler, and yes, alright, it’s a specialist quiz, but you have to admit that you do get quite a lot for your money in this. There’s a good card/board game, with 4 category sets of cards, then on top of this there’s also an audio CD quiz. To be honest, Spot the Intro is a little bit misleading as the title for this game, since spotting the intros on the CD is only one part of the game. Basically you nominate a category of card to answer. There are five questions on each card, which you get asked, and for each question you answer correctly you get to move one space on the board. At the end of each row there is a ‘spot the intro ‘ space, and IF you land on them, then you get played 5 intros, and for each one you identify correctly you move one space. Land on the final space, and you have to identify three out of five intros. Sounds simple ? Probably that’s because it is, and none the worse for that at all. I like this game.

Well, you’ve played trivia board games before, and you’ve played trivia CD/DVD board games before, neither of which are at all original. Not all games can be original, though, but the key to using tried and tested game conventions is using them well. The cover design is extremely ‘busy’ and none too attractive in my opinion, but a closer look does reveal that there is a bit of quality about this – sturdy box, attractively produced cards. The sets of cards aren’t that extensive, but there are different sets of questions on both sides of each card – which seems like good value for money to me. The board is small, but reassuringly sturdy in its own right. I’ve enjoyed this game, with one small caveat. I actually prefer playing this one as two separate games. I mean, I bet I’m not the only person to just stick the CD on, and let it play through without stopping, just trying to identify the intros without playing the board game at all. I guess that fewer people will have played the board game with just the cards and no intros, but I enjoy doing that as well.

I think that someone has taken a bit of time and trouble with this set, although it worries me to read questions where the answer says something along the lines of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s Two Tribes was the best selling single of 1980 – a few years premature, that. It does suggest that you need to be just a little cautious with the answers.  I enjoyed playing this with my youngest daughter, who bought it for me, but there’s a huge advantage from being a person of a certain age. Quite good family fun when compared to many of the other games on this page, though. 

True or False (MB Games 1995 – Matchmakers minigame version )

A little bit of an oddity this one. MB launched their true or false game in 1995, and it pretty much does what it says on the tin. This is how it works. Each player starts at the same position on the board. To move you have to answer questions correctly. Well, I say questions. Really it’s a set of statements , and for each one you have to say whether it is true or false. That’s really it. Except for the fact that this is actually a much smaller version of the original game, made to accompany a promotion with Matchmakers chocolates. This would have been after Rowntrees, the original manufacturers, were bought out by Nestlé. The whole packaging is about the size of a CD cover, and so of necessity the board is smaller, as are the pieces. I’d guess there’s probably fewer cards as well than the original. I’ll be honest though, as a travel game it kind of does the job pretty well. Of course, it all depends on how much you enjoy this sort of guessing game. It’s a similar format to the later Fact or Crap, for example. I paid pennies for it, though, and I have a sneaking liking for this. I like things which are unpretentious, and just kind of get on with the job.

It’s not all that original, but then it isn’t really making itself out to be either.I’m not sure whether this was a free giveaway, or just a cheap one, but whatever the case you wouldn’t have been paying much for this new. If it was free then it’s pretty good. Production values are not huge, but then you wouldn’t expect them to be. Everything is a bit small and fiddly though.

I’m not a great one for guessing games, but this is not without a certain fascination. Personally I’m not overly enamoured of the randomness of it, but that’s just me, and if it floats your boat good luck to you. A mixture of things you already know, things you don’t care about, things which make you go ‘ well I never’ . Not enough of them, but then this is a small giveaway version of the game, so we can’t complain.Kept us going for a good half hour of a long car journey, but that was just playing with the statements and not the board. Still, it works.

Miscellaneous Trivia Games

Most of my quiz games I would play from time to time when the opposition is appropriate, and willing, and many of them I would recommend. However there are some which proved to be, well, a disappointment, and which just haven't grabbed me at all. In no particular order - here they are:-

Genius (1988 – The Games Team Ltd. )

Subtitled The General Knowledge Game of Strategy based upon the Guinness Book of Records, this was, I dare say, one of the more substantial games to come riding along in the wake of Trivial Pursuit. Or maybe it would have been had it been slightly quicker off the mark. I dare say that 1988 was maybe three or four years too late to take anything like a decent slice of the TP pie.

Designers of pretty much all quiz based games which came along in the first couple of decades after TP have had to try to answer the same question – how do we make our game original enough to appeal ( and not face litigation ) while still maintaining as many of the features of Trivial Pursuit that people like as we can ? That’s why most of the quiz games of the period have big, chunky, appealing boxes, sets of question cards, and a sturdy board of some description. All present and correct here. Now, the designers of Genius latched onto the Guinness Book of Records and fly this as their flag of convenience. You can see the appeal to the Guinness Records people, certainly. Every set of the game acts as an advert for the books – and for the drink as well, although off the top of my head I don’t know whether Guinness brewers still had any connection with the publishing side of things at the time. The way that they seem to have tried to put a stamp of originality on this game is by marketing it as a game of strategy.

Basically it works like this. You can have just two teams – black and red. The teams can have as many or as few people in them as you like, but there can only be the two teams. Each owns one half of the board. The board is set out to resemble a Gold medal with its ribbon, with a big letter G in the middle. There are cut out shapes in the medal. Each team has its own box of question cards. They take it in turns to aask each other a question from the card. On each card there is an ‘amazing’ fact from the Guinness Book. Underneath is a set of related questions – for 5, 7 , or 10 points, or you also have the option of answering a ‘Genius’ question. If you answer your chosen question correctly, then you can choose either a points medal, or a piece of the gold medal in the centre. The first to fill in the whole of their half of the gold medal wins.

I’ll be perfectly honest with you, there’s really not a great amount of strategy involved. What there is comes mainly through the ‘Genius’ questions. If you correctly answer a Genius question, then you can block off part of your opponent’s medal. Then they have to answer a Genius question correctly to remove you. Then you can block it again if you answer correctly – well, you get the drift. Which would be OK if the Genius questions posed any greater difficulty than the other questions. But they really don’t. There’s precious little differentiation between any of the sets of questions. In fact some of the 5 point questions are harder than the Genius ones – and that’s really not forgiveable.

I don’t say that there’s nothing of interest about this game. One interesting feature is the inclusion of a book of colour photographs, and some of the cards have questions that refer specifically to these. Some of the facts on the top of the cards are interesting too, but these can detract from the game. Often the links between the facts at the top of the cards and the questions are tenuous in the extreme. Being honest, when you boil away all of the paraphernalia, what you end up with is a relatively inoffensive trivia game, which looks fantastic, has fairly high production values, but at the end of the day isn’t as good or as much fun as Trivial Pursuit.

Originality – Not the highest and not the lowest of the games which came along in the wake of TP. I mean, it doesn’t score as highly as Ubi, for example, but then you can’t say that you are chasing around a board, hoping that luck will allow you to land on the square you need, to answer the category of question you want, to win you the object you  need etc. etc.

Visual Appeal – Strong. This has a very clear, and frankly quite macho, visual identity. If you looked at it on the shelves back in the late 80s when it first came out you’d never have mistaken it for anything other than a trivia board game.

Gameplay – A game isn’t automatically bad because it’s simple, in the same way that it’s not automatically good because it’s simple. If the game is a good one, then simplicity can be a virtue – I think , for example of the Tell Me Quiz. Genius, on the other hand,  is a simple game, but it gains little I feel from its simplicity. If either team has a good quizzer in it, then this game will be over in a few minutes. Unless you get stuck on a boring tit for tat set of exchanges of Genius question, which has little interest or excitement. When you play a game you look for an appropriate amount of challenge. There’s not enough challenge here – not enough difficulty to keep decent players interested, and not enough of the randomizing factors of luck involved to keep non quizzers in it.  

Questions – Well – it’s all decent fare, but there’s very little differentiation between the questions worth different points. Yet that is where the element of strategy has to come from. This is a fundamental flaw with the game.

Family Play - The questions aren’t so dreadfully hard that they should put off a family from playing, but the quizzer will win. Not just most of the time, but all of the time.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone Trivia Game (2001)

 

Most of the games on this page I bought for myself, or someone else bought for me. This one I actually bought for someone else – my daughter Jen who is the mad keen Potter fan in the family. Yes, car boot sale, couple of quid. You know the drill by now. This game concerns just the first book, and to say it is for the die hard fans is an understatement. I mean, I’ve read the book and seen the films, and I’ve read all the others book as well, but this one has a ton of questions that just left me scratching my head. Of course it’s very specialist. But then you wouldn’t buy a game that calls itself Harry Potter Trivia and expect to get any questions on pop music, as it were.

 

Basically you track round the board to pick up 6 separate items for your wizards chest. You do this by answering questions correctly. So, yes, it’s a pretty standard trivia chase. Production values are pretty high, and the questions are difficult enough to make any Potterphile very happy indeed.

Kitfix Soap Trivia Pursual (Kitfix 1987)

 

Many trivia or quiz games of the 80s and 90s owed a debt to Trivial Pursuit. Few games imitate the packaging of Trivial Pursuit quite as slavishly as this one though. The box is of exactly the same dimensions as a TP box. The background colour of the box is almost exactly the same shade as the TP Baby Boomer Edition. Inside the box this almost slavish imitation continues.

 

As for the game itself, well, the board unfolds just like a TP board, but it is quite different. There is a clear starting point, and a clear finish point. You progress around the board to 7 circles. Each circle has the name of a character from Dallas, Dynasty or the Colbys, Coronation Street, Crossroads, Brookside, Emmerdale Farm ( this was 1987, and it had yet to drop the word Farm from its name) and Eastenders. Now, I have to confess something here. My daughter Jess bought the game for a pound or two in a charity shop, and although all of the pieces and cards are there, the instructions aren’t. So these are what we believe the rules to be, but we don’t know for certain. Each of the characters in the circles has their own card. The cards are all colour coded according to which soap opera they are in. There are two packs of question cards. Each of the afore mentioned soaps is a question category, and there are three other categories as well – Who’s Who, which gives the name of a character and you have to name the soap from which they come, - British, which gives you the chance to answer about such B, C and D list British soaps as Take the High Road, and Albion Market – and American/Australian, which gives you the chance to answer on Australian daytime soaps such as Sons and Daughters, the Young Doctors and A Country Practice, and American soaps like Falcon Crest, Flamingo Road and Knots Landing. You throw the dice to move along the track. Whichever square you land on, you have to answer a question of that category. Get it right, and throw again. Get it wrong and your opponent. Once you’ve collected a card for each soap, then you move to the finish track. This involves answering two questions correctly for each soap opera. Once you’ve done that – Hooray ! You’ve won.

 

Well, as I say, we didn’t have the instructions when we road tested it, so I can’t swear that we’ve got the rules 100% correct, but I’d lay odds that we’re not a million miles away. Crikey, but the game went on for a long time. The basic problem was that the game was made in 1987, and Jess wasn’t born until 1994. As for me, I was fine on the Eastenders questions, and OK on Dallas, Dynasty and Corrie. But I never really watched Brookside very much, or Emmerdale Farm for that matter. So I took simple ages to collect cards from those two, and to answer questions on the finish track.

 

It’s of mild interest, and of value to the collection mainly because it’s such a shameless TP rip off. And that’s about it.

This doesn’t want you to think it’s original, either. It virtually shouts at you – I’m like Trivial Pursuit! Play me! Which would be fine if it was any great shakes as a trivia game. Big if. A vintage TP set from the 80s looks like a quality item. This achieves the remarkable feat of looking like a TP set, at the same time as looking rather tacky and cheap. The board itself could be any old rubbish start to finish trail game. I like the card packs though.

 

If you knew your soaps back in the day, then I dare say that you’d have enjoyed it as much as an average TP game. But it’s just too obscure to play with any satisfaction today. It only ever had a limited shelf life, I’m sure, and its sell-by date passed a long time ago.

I don’t blame the game for this. You can’t ask questions about 2012 in a game that was made in 1987, that stands to reason. I do blame the makers, though for getting things wrong. In the game I played with Jess I found about half a dozen cards which had clear mistakes on them. For example – one of the British category questions asks about the Young Doctors – an Australian soap. You won’t want to play this really, and you certainly won’t want to play it with your family. As I said, this article has its interest as a good example of the kind of copycat trivia games which came about in the wake of trivial pursuit. But it’s not for playing.

Travia - General Knowledge(1991)

Travia - Entertainment (1991)

See if you can spot the flaw with this one. It was made over 20 years ago. Travia – you mean , like a combination of trivia – and travel ? Certainly do. Do you remember 1991 ? Exactly one year AFTER the Nintendo Gameboy was launched in Europe. So any in car/train travel game for the whole family already had some serious competition. This is touted as a game for the whole family, but if your kids had a Gameboy by this time, then you’d be playing it on your own.

How does it work ? You get a little metal board, covered in vinyl, with a track on it, and a set of magnetic counters. You also get a cassette tape. Singular. The first one I found was on Entertainment. Slam it into the car cassette player ( what do you mean that you don’t have a cassette player in your car any more ? ) and press play. First person gets to answer the first question, second player the second and so on in turns. Every time you get an answer right, you move your counter one space. First one to the finish line wins.

OK, I asked earlier whether you could spot the flaws. First of all, very few kids would be the least bit interested in this if they had a Gameboy to divert them. Secondly, how many of you are asking yourself this – how many questions can you get onto one cassette tape ? Go to the top of the class if you did. The answer is 250 – or – about enough for one long car journey.

Having said all that I enjoyed it enough to buy two of these. The first I bought was Entertainment, and so when the opportunity to buy the General Knowledge tape came up I bought that one as well. I would make one observation, though. This is supposed to be a family game. So can you imagine some of the questions the answer to the question : -

"Jack the Ripper murdered people with which occupation in the East End of London ? " - would cause. "Mummy, Daddy - what IS a prostitute ? " I would have thought that one should have been vetoed as a question for a family game before it ever got into production.

Originality – Not very original, know. Alright, the questions are on the tape, but if they were on little cards, then we have another answer questions to get around the board game. Its great selling point is that it’s specifically a travel game.

Visual Appeal – Not bad, actually. I like the board, although it’s small, and the box is colourful enough.Doesn’t yell ‘Play Me !’ at you, though.

Gameplay – Well, how complicated could you make it, bearing in mind you’ll be doing it in the car ? Actually I bet that most people who ever did play it just shoved the tape on and shouted out the questions whenever they knew the answer .

Questions – these are all entertainment questions. It was made in 1991, and the questions reflect this – fine for older quizzers, but not for anyone younger than the game. I played through all 250 in one sitting, and I had 12 wrong, so they’re mostly pretty straightforward. There were a few good’uns though. And at least one wrong’un. You can ask it however many times you like, but the answer to “Who wrote the music to the ballet ‘Coppelia’” will always be Leo Delibes, and never Tchaikovsky ! Likewise with the General Knowledge questions, I'm afraid that it was Elias Howe rather than Singer who invented the sewing machine. Singer was the one who made money from it.

Family Play – I think I’ve already covered this one. I’d guess that even in 1991 there were too many older questions to give the nippers much of a chance, even if you did force them to play and took the batteries out of their Gameboys.

Fact or Crap

I was tempted to say ‘Crap’ the moment I first saw the box. And when I read the rules. But let's not be horrible, or elitist. The fact that someone is still trying to make new quiz games out there is somehow reassuring, even when they're games that you don't feel as if you're going to like very much. There’s no board, just question cards and tokens. Basically you win tokens from a pile in the middle by answering whether statements read out from the cards are true “Fact”, or false “ Crap”. The first person to throw down a correct Fact or Crap card wins two tokens. Once all the tokens have been won, then the person with the highest total of tokens wins the game. It really is that simple.

Everyone I’ve ever known who has played this game – which was first launched in the middle of the noughties, I believe– has very definite opinions about it. Some love it, and some hate it. Those who hate it feel, with some justification, that it’s not a game that rewards knowledge. Certainly the ‘true or false’ question when used indiscrimantely in quizzes can be a very annoying randomising factor. But then I tend to feel that this was the intention behind the game anyway. It isn’t designed for quizzers to reinforce their own feelings of superiority.

There's lots of yellow and red in the packaging and design. Not unappealing, but nothing which would ever have made me reach into my wallet if it hadn’t have been much more than pennies in a charity shop. Gameplay is fast and furious, which is the best thing that you can say about it. This game doesn’t last long at all, well, not if you play it competitively , anyway. Personally I find myself a little bored by the unvarying randomness of it. Anyone who automatically shoves down a card immediately will invariably be right about half the time, without actually knowing a single answer.

Some of these questions, in fact quite a few of them, you WILL actually know the answer to. You know that it’s false to say that Mel Gibson was born in Australia, for example. But I’m afraid that I’m a traditionalist. A lot of these things I don’t know, but I don’t care either. It really isn't my cup of tea, but I'd say that this is almost ideal for family play since anyone has about as much chance of winning as any one else. As I said, a single game doesn’t last very long either. I kind of suspect the target punter is the drunk student just back from the pub market, though.

Marks and Spencer Pub Quiz – DVD Game

Like it or not there are a lot of this sort of thing out there. In fact there are a lot of DVD quiz games out there in different genres as well – all kinds of entertainment, and sport as well. This was another Christmas present. In the box there’s a lot of packaging, but you also get a pad full of answer sheets, two score boards for the two teams, two pencils, and the DVD.

To be fair to this one, it does at least try to spread the questions around between the categories. There are 10 quizzes, with twelve rounds each. Each round is a different category. Within each round there are 5 questions, one of which requires a multiple answer. If you’re thinking to yourself, well, that doesn’t sound like a lot of questions, well, it’s not really.

I’ll be honest, this sort of thing really isn’t very much my cup of tea anyway, but I do find that the ones I have seen and played do vary in quality tremendously. Being fronted by a ‘name’ is no guarantee it will be any good either. This one is pretty basic, to be honest. It could use the format a lot more imaginatively.

Originality – It’s not original at all. Which isn’t necessarily a drawback. A quiz doesn’t need to be original if the questions are good, and varied, and provide something for everyone. Unfortunately this doesn’t do that.

Visual Appeal – Dreadful box. I mean, I know that Marks and Sparks don’t go in for overselling their goods, but please. You might just as well have stuck a huge label which said “Warning – the contents of this box are deadly dull !” on the front, because that’s the impact that this box has on me. I suppose we should be grateful that they didn’t stick the ubiquitous foaming pint glass on the cover that you get in almost anything else that contains the words pub and quiz in the title.

Gameplay – It’s a pub quiz – in your living room. Ok, fair enough. It begs the question why you don’t just go to a real pub quiz if that’s what you want, but as I say, fair enough. But the visual and audio potential of the DVD format are just not put to any good use for this, which is a wasted opportunity.

Questions – Too easy. Yeah, alright, I’m a Mastermind winner so what do I expect yuttah yuttah yuttah. But they’re SO easy. I wouldn’t ask any of these in the rugby club even as gimmes.

Family Play – Not really. There’s no way of giving an advantage to the non quizzer, and the quizzer will win hands down.

Console Quizzes

There's an increasing number of quiz games out there for games consoles. I haven't got many, but these are some I've encountered along the way.

Nintendo – Game Boy Advance – Who Wants to be a Millionaire ?

This is OK. It basically does exactly what it says on the tin. I play this on the Nintendo DS, but it’s a Game Boy Advance game. For the uninitiated this is an older game, for a machine with less capability than the DS, and so the graphics are a little more limited. If you ever played the original Nintendo WWTBAM game in the Play Station one, then this is basically what you get. But as I say, it’s OK. If you’re a quizzer there’s little here that will frighten you before you get to the£ ¼ million questions, but it’s OK for idling away 10 or 15 minutes.

Nintendo DS – Telly Addicts

Yes, old Noel Tidybeard has dusted off this old format, and put it into a game. In fact he presents it himself. A little bit of thought has gone into this. There’s a variety of rounds, some of which include clips. Personally I don’t like the Guess the Year question, and I don’t like the question where you have to identify a TV personality from a fuzzy screen. In each separate game you really don’t get a lot of questions for your money either – it takes about 10 – 15 minutes to play through a quiz. But then if you remember the show, you didn’t get that much more for your money there either. I should complain , it cost about £1.50 second hand.

Buzz Quiz World - PS3

If we're talking about console quiz games we can't really ignore Buzz, can we ? This franchise has expanded a lot since the original for the PS2, and you can get specialist Buzz games, mostly on Entertainment. This was a 2011 Christmas present, and it's certainly the most 'straight' quiz game of the series that I've yet played.

If you've never played Buzz, I suppose that the most helpful thing I can say is that it's an interactive buzzer game for up to 4 players, and it's the closest thing you can get to actually playing a game show in your front room - speaking as someone who has actually played in game shows in real life. There's a variety of short rounds, all with different rules, but basically it comes down to answering questions correctly , sometimes trying to do it more quickly than the opposition.

As I said, this is probably the straightest GK quiz of all of them, but even so it does have a preponderance of entertainment categories. It's good fun, though, and a little addictive. The best quizzer in the bunch will probably win this the majority of the time.