Review: Geek Out and Geek Out Pop Culture Party

Image result for geek outThis is probably my favorite game right now, though you have to nail down the right audience to really have fun with it. The first time I played, we just weren’t geeky enough, but in subsequent trials no one wanted to put the game down. I played a couple of times with the base Geek Out game, and then subsequently purchased Pop Culture Party. I’d recommend playing with both when you have a mixed crowd that includes folks who aren’t that into comics, games, and other nerd-dom, because those folks will quickly get bored or frustrated with the original. It’s also most fun when you have a fairly balanced group. My partner and I like to play just for fun, but she always, 100% of the time, is going to get to five cards first, because she just has a broader geeky base of knowledge than I do. Decide how you feel about that before playing with an obviously unbalanced group.

Unlike most trivia games, there’s no one right answer in Geek Out. It’s a game that’s all about lists, as well as bidding and bluffing. A turn starts with a round of bidding, each player trying to decide whether they can name more of a particular thing (say, villains with mustaches) than the last player to bid. Once everyone else is out, the high-bidding player has to do the list. Success means that player keeps the card, worth one point, but failure means a -2 points token.

This game is surprisingly strategic, and while it can be balanced, I’d recommend establishing clear house rules and altering play as much as your group needs to make it fun. For example, my partner and I find it really annoying to try to think of franchises (and agree on what a franchise is), so if a card asks for franchises, we often substitute “movies” or “books” or “titles.” If the game goes too quickly, it’s easy to make the win condition a larger number of cards. Also, in one epic game, we realized that we had someone who just really loves lists, and would always bid up (even if he wasn’t certain he’d succeed). That made the game somewhat less fun, since no one else got a shot, so we ended up all bidding as a team against him.

Folks can get nit picky fast in this game, but if everyone wants to play in the spirit of just having fun trying to remember games and books and movies, it’s a great game with a lot of re-playability. You can mix the decks or just play one at a time—just read through the categories and see what you think. Or be me, and always hope for miscellaneous.

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