Trivial Pursuit is an iconic general knowledge game that has been revamped several times since it's release in the early 80's. Since then it has become a worldwide phenomenon that has sold millions around the world and entertained for decades. Even if you have never played Trivial Pursuit before you're bound to have heard of it, it's like the Monopoly of trivia games and its popularity shows no signs of deteriorating even as we enter a new decade where DVD games and games consoles have widely taken over the market.
I had never actually played Trivial Pursuit before and as we needed something to do as a family over Christmas and as I couldn't exactly see my 82 year old Nan playing tennis on the Ninendo Wii I decided to pick this up for £37.79 from WHSmith. Yes very expensive compared with Monopoly which can be picked up for around £12 these days but in our family Monopoly has been played so many times over the years that we needed something fresh and stimulating that we could all enjoy.
The USP (unique selling point) of Trivial Pursuit Deluxe Edition is that supposedly anyone can win (isn't that the USP of any board game?). So with great trepidation over it's strange and obvious claims we opened the box on Christmas Day eager to find out whether Trivial Pursuit would live up to the hype or whether this would have us yearning for good old Monopoly.
Everything is packaged fairly neatly and inside you should find:
* A Gameboard
* Question & Answer Cards
* 6 Abbot Movers
* 6 Scoring Tokens
* 36 Scoring Wedges
* 1 Dice
*** Setting Up ***
The game is aimed at anyone over the age of 15 and can be played by 2-36 players.
Setting up the game was a task in itself. The instructions tell you that each player should have a scoring wedge each, which is basically a round piece of plastic that house all your wedges as you progress in the game. Each player should also have an Abbot Mover(what moves around the board), as there are only 6 of these it's clear that if there do happen to be the maximum of 36 people playing then there will have to be 6 teams of 6. As it was there were only 4 of us so we had one each.
The question and answer cards will be wrapped in plastic and placed inside the large colour triangles which sit onto of the game board. There are 6 triangles that are different colours indicating the specific questions that they house:
Blue - Geography
Pink - Entertainment
Yellow - History
Brown - Art & Literature
Green - Science & Nature
Orange - Sport & Leisure
That all sounds simple enough doesn't it, well after that is where it gets complicated. The instructions are 2 sides of card and for some reason the instructions assume that you must have already played the game therefore know exactly how it works. It doesn't explain clearly what to do, where you start, who starts, how you move around the board and how you score wedges. Don't get me wrong all of this information IS on the instruction sheet but there's so many things to take in as this was everybody's first time playing the game, it was almost overwhelming trying to pick everything up in such a short space of time. The instruction sheet ended up being passed around the table to numerous different people and no one could really decipher how to play because the instructions were just so complicated. Then just as you think you've got one aspect mastered there is another bit of information that needs remembering.
While playing the game you'll need to keep the instructions handy as there are so many different things to remember whilst in play. The beauty of most successful board games is the simplicity of them; Trivial Pursuit however aims to not only challenge you with a range of intellectual questions but with the actual setting up and mastering of the game tactics. It would seem that 3600 questions isn't enough and the average player needs a bit more of a challenge to really test their intellect.
*** Playing The Game ***
As previously mentioned there are 3600 questions, 600 for each topic. What questions you answer are dependant on the roll of the dice. For instance if you roll a 6 and end up on a pink square that in turn means that you have to answer a hard question on entertainment. The difficulty levels of the questions is something I find a bit over the top, when I first bought the game I assumed that you'd have a choice of whether to answer an easy, medium or hard question on the specific topic you land on. This, however is sadly not the case. If you roll a one or a two on the dice you'll answer an easy question, three and four leads to a medium and five or six means you'll have to answer a hard question. I personally would have preferred it if you could choose which difficulty level of question you answer as the difficulty level determines how many spaces you move on the board.
This is where it gets even more complicated, if you answer an easy question right you move one space on the board then continue to roll the dice again, if you answer a medium question you move two and a correct hard question means that you move three spaces on the board. This is something we continually forgot to do because to me it seems completely superfluous for there to be so many different rules and regulations to follow in order to play the game. I personally feel that if you were allowed to choose which level of difficulty to answer it would make way for some clever tactics. However as it stands winning the game all seems like a stroke of luck... now I understand why they claim anyone can win!
Question difficulty aside there is then the matter of the wedges that you collect as you go round the board. There are 6 different 'Wedge Spaces' situated around the board, if you're smart enough (I mean lucky enough) to land on one of the wedge spaces you'll then be asked a question relating to that colour, if you get the question right you'll receive a little wedge which you place in your circular holder. Whoever gets all 6 wedges first wins the game... simple right? Wrong! We found the wedge spaces to be (yet another) game of chance, you are allowed to choose which direction you move around the board but you're only allowed to move in one direction during your turn. For instance if you roll a three you can't move two spaces anticlockwise and one space clockwise. Therefore even the fact that you can change direction doesn't mean that you're guaranteed to land on a wedge space. I was hoping that you could go to a wedge space if you're leading the game or you answered a hard question correctly; this would make it less a game of chance and more a game of intellect which is what this is supposed to be isn't it?
The four of us played the game for around an hour and a half and I believe the most wedges one person got in that time was 2 out of 6. Infact after around 45 minutes we started to worry less about the rules and played the game as a simple question and answer game. Trying to stick somewhat to the rules but not being pedantic enough or enthralled enough to care if we were playing correctly. To be fair we did enjoy playing the game, however all the different rules and regulations completely suck the fun out of it. For a game that's supposed to be reliant on intellect it sure does rely on pure chance an awful lot. I feel that if you stick 100% to the rules you'll end up getting so sucked up with the rules that you'll forget about the main premise of this game which is to enjoy yourself. You should of course try to play properly as we did but you shouldn't care too much if you're not sticking religiously to the rules.
Overall I wasn't particularly impressed with this game, we specifically chose a question and answer game because it was something that would appeal to everyone and there would hopefully be something that everyone could answer. The ages around the table ranged from 16 to 82 and out of the four of us we only answered about 30% of the questions right. We're not all Stephen Hawking or Carol Vorderman but I'd say we were all of medium intellect, enabling us to answer general knowledge questions. The questions weren't really general knowledge though, they were extremely specific questions that if you weren't familiar with that small area of knowledge then there's no way you'd be able to answer the question. Therefore after around an hour and a half we decided to give in and give up. With no winner emerging, we found the game nonetheless entertaining but it's not something we'd play again and due to it's complicated and over pedantic nature it's not one I would recommend.