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Anyone that has seen QI (Quite Interesting) on the BBC or through the cagillion repeats on Dave will know what a fascinating, funny but frustrating show it is. The premise is a simple one - Stephen Fry is the quizmaster and four panellists (one who is always comedian Alan Davies) try to answer questions for points which can be misleading, really bizarre or, despite seeming blindingly obvious e.g. "how old are you?", have bizarre answers (apparently due to regeneration of cells a human body at most will probably be between 11-15 years old...so there). The most amusing thing about this show is how good answers receive positive points but bad/wrong answers receive negative points, with the worst possible answers to a question being accentuated by the infamous klaxon sound and the knowledge you've just cost yourself 10 points. Sometimes panellists actually aim to get the klaxon just for a laugh, and often questions are just used as a platform to throw in some jokes and amusing anecdotes and so this show is an excellent mix of fun trivia and comedy.
==The Board Game Rules==
So, to make a little extra cash the show has released a board game, cunningly named "QI the board game" which I jumped at the chance to buy. Just as the concept of the show, despite the trickiness of the questions, is simple, so is the board game. This is a game for 3-6 players each with a different coloured QI marker which will travel around the chequered board of 63 squares starting in the centre on 0 points. Leading away from the centre along the row each square goes up by a point in one direction and down a point in the other indicating the number of points a player would have if they were on that square, and each row above and below goes in alternate directions around the board. The majority of the squares are yellow, green, blue or red which refer to the colour of question booklets which the questions are read from, and in addition there are scattering of other squares including Roll Again (2), Miss A Go (2), Chance (4) and Game Ends (2). The game only ends when somebody lands on one of the Game Ends squares which are the equivalent of +31 points and -31 points and the winner is the player that has the most points at the time.
So, how do the pieces move around the board? As I mentioned all the pieces start in the centre on 0 points, and before the game starts all players roll the three dice with the player getting the highest total assuming the first quizmaster role. They then roll the three dice, coloured white, red and blue again and advance their piece forward by the number on the white dice. Assuming they land on a yellow, green, blue or red square they grab the appropriately coloured question booklet and proceed to read out the question number based upon the three dice results in the order red, blue and white which leaves a total number of 216 different possible combinations per booklet so a grand total of 864 questions available for this game. If the current quizmaster lands on a Chance square they pick up a card with something helpful on it (only 1 to be held by any one player at a time) and their go ends, if they land on a Miss A Go square likewise their go ends and the person to their left becomes the new quizmaster or if they land on Roll Again they simply roll the dice again and advance forward even further on the board resulting in one of the other options recurring.
All the answers to the questions are in a multiple choice format, with either a choice of three possible answers or a Yes/No/True/False response. All of the other players will take it in turn to give their answer, which could simply be a pass if they're too chicken, and if they are correct they will advance forward 3 spaces. If they are wrong they simply stay where they are...unless the klaxon comes into play and this is where the game really begins to take off. Every player to the left of another gets the chance to challenge that player if they think their answer was wrong by hitting the klaxon (a mobile, battery operated giant red button which does look like you might be setting off a nuclear missile in North Korea if you push it) which recreates the blaring alarm identical to that from the TV show. Once every player has submitted their response, if a challenging player was right to buzz in and the other player was wrong, then if that wrong answer was marked in the booklet as being a klaxon answer that player must go back the number of spaces specified in the booklet. However if the challenging player themselves was wrong and hit the klaxon answer they are then subjected to that penalty. You can only be penalised for guessing the klaxon answer if you were challenged or were the challenger so therein lies the risk and rewards of the klaxon.
If a player seems to be galloping ahead of everyone else on their way to certain victory the Chance cards can throw a spanner in the works giving the holder the ability to swap positions with another player on the board at any time, to add 6 spaces to their roll die, to make another player go back 6 spaces or to force another player to take their klaxon penalty for them. Since a player can only have one card at a time, these must be used wisely, for example you wouldn't want to send a player back 6 spaces if they would then be so negative they land on a Game Ends square and you weren't currently in the lead. That would just be silly. So, whilst the rules are hopefully simple enough the questions are anything but and to have any hope of actually knowing the answers outright, or in fact even having an educated guess, you'll need some seriously obscure knowledge, just as panellists on the show do. For all normal people that don't have a weird trivia repository stored in a vault in their brain you'll just have to guess and hope that you can spot the devious klaxon traps laid down by the evil quiz writers.
==Playing the Game==
This game is a lot of fun to play, but can also be highly frustrating (just like the original show) which in a weird way only adds to the amusement. Less players seems to make for quicker games as you'd expect, but some games are over pretty darn quickly depending on the way the die fall and what kind of mood Lady Luck is in and likewise others can drag on for over an hour if the chips don't fall neatly. There are two ways of playing it really - high risk or low risk. If you go down the low risk route and avoid using the klaxon you will simply crawl forward relying on fate and will be susceptible to other challenges and Chance cards, unless you are a fountain or knowledge. You will still be susceptible to the same old dangers playing a high risk strategy, but you can be very damaging to the player on your right if you opt to employ a klaxon assault on them so choosing where to sit around the board as part of a plan comes with knowing the mentality of your opponents and is something to consider. Yet despite this being a game of "knowledge" and answering questions the majority of the game does rely mostly on luck as far as I can tell such as what squares you land on at what time, how lucky individual players are at actually guessing questions right, as let's be honest most people shouldn't be knowing the answers outright, and choosing their klaxon moments and whether people have managed to pick up a highly useful Chance card at an appropriate time.
The trick seems to be in gaining insight into the craftiness of the questions and working out which one is likely to be the klaxon answer, which is not always an easy thing (but in my experience the player with best reasoning and logic seems to prevail), thus ensuring that you at least don't go sailing back up to 15 squares through outright stupidity. Here's an example where actual knowledge could trip you up:
When was Winston Churchill first elected prime minister?
Now you may well know he was Prime Minister during the war so you think of course - 1941 as 1931 is too early. But no! He wasn't elected - he just became the party leader so the answer is 1951 and if you were so stupid as to go for 1941 well then minus 15 points for you (if you were challenged). At least that kind of question you have a shot at having an educated guess. Something like the following leaves it entirely up to the Gods:
True or False: Houseflies hum in the key of F major?
...and why would you even want to know that? Despite most of the questions being useless trivia you do learn some interesting facts which at the very least you can use to impress people at awkward social gatherings.
So, it is also pot luck as to what questions you get asked and on some games they may fall in your lap and you get a higher percentage right than usual due to educated guessing and find yourself advancing forward at a canter and in others you can't buy a right answer and slip down the ladder of obscurity towards certain humiliation. There is however a certain life expectancy to this game given the finite number of questions available but you'd have to play an awfully large number of times to statistically hit them all. Rather interestingly though in my experience, in just one game we often hit upon the same question more than once and had an obscene number of 6's thrown for the red dice so always found ourselves in the high end of all the different booklets. We also couldn't land on a yellow square to save our lives so things were a bit skewed and didn't feel particularly random. We were even beginning to suspect loaded dice. That just proves that probability works fine...in theory...but you may hit upon a lot of repetition the more you play this game which is one annoyance, but this is purely down to chance so is impossible to avoid. Also, if you leave it long enough in between games and play with lots of different people you may well forget a lot of the questions and answers and this repetition won't matter so much.
So, as you'd expect this board game can't really capture the atmosphere of the show and is nowhere near as funny or silly since the questions are restricted to multiple choice and not forcing people to pluck answers out of thin air or tell jokes. The real entertainment comes from the reactions of people when they are sent flying backwards after an unfortunate klaxon incident and they have to start clawing their way back through blood, sweat and tears and likewise when some sneaky individual that was doing very badly can simply swap with the leader and unfairly top the pack despite having no knowledge of quite interesting things. Sometimes a game can drag on a bit and a modicum of tedium sets in when people keep getting close to the end and then lose a flurry of points (though from the other players' perspectives this keeps the game alive) and on other occasions it's over far too quickly, but you'd expect to get a fairly balanced game the more times you play although this relies a bit on the number of players so I've always found this game a good laugh every time I've played it as well as learning the occasional interesting bit of useless trivia that will probably never help me in any aspect of my life ever. I'd recommend this for fans of the show, but it is possibly a bit too reliant on luck despite it being question based with not enough strategy other than appropriately timed klaxons and Chance cards to nobble the opposition and as a concept is possibly a bit too simplistic for hard-core board gamers so non-fans may not enjoy it as much.