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The Game of Things...
Humor in a Box!
List Price: $39.99
Your Price: $31.99
(Worth 3,199 Funagain Points!)
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Players: 4 or more
Ages: 14 and up
Weight: 1,189 grams
Average Rating: 4.7 in 3 reviews
Things… Humour in a Box
The Short Review
Things… is my favorite party game. Period. Every time we play this Canadian gem, it spawns uncontrollable laughter.
Before you even open the wooden box that Things… comes in, you’ll notice the dovetail joint construction of the box. Stop reading right now and go check the construction of the drawers in your kitchen. If they’re not dovetailed, you need to ask yourself why a party game box is made with more care than your kitchen drawers.
When you slide the lid off the wooden box, the first thing you’ll see is a double-sided 5-1/2” x 7-1/2” sheet of instructions. As with any good social game, the rules are few and easy to comprehend. You can be playing Things… within 90 seconds of opening the box for the first time.
The bulk of what you’re paying for are the 300 topic cards. Topic cards all begin with “Things…” and then conclude the sentence with a single interesting scenario such as “that confirm you are screwed.” Other examples are
“Things…you wouldn’t want to be allergic to.”
“Things…you shouldn’t say to your husband.”
“Things…that make you uncomfortable.”
The box also contains 10 short pencils, the kind you’d find at a miniature golf course (Perhaps you’d find them at a real golf course, too; I don’t play.), a response pad of paper, and a scoring pad. The response pad has 4 perforations so you can tear off your short answer without wasting much paper. The publishers could have saved money by eliminating the paper and pencils, but those items add value. Everything I need is stored in the box. I don’t have to go rummaging through drawers to find working pens and enough paper. I really like the perforated paper because it dictates the length of my responses, and it’s environmentally friendlier than full-paper options.
So what do you do with all these things? Start by handing out pencils and response pads to everyone. All the players tear off a strip of paper at the perforation. One player is given the score pad and the task of recording scores throughout the game. A reader is chosen. The reader reads (That’s what readers do!) one Topic card. All the players, including the reader, write a response on their long, narrow strip of paper. When the players finish writing, they fold their paper twice and drop it in the game box.
The reader reads out the responses once and then does it a second time. The first time is to acquaint everyone with the responses. The second time allows players to commit key words to memory.
The player to the left of the reader names one of the responses and then tries to guess who wrote it. If the guess is correct, the player who wrote the response is eliminated and the guesser continues trying to recall responses and match them to their authors. When the guesser is wrong, the role of guesser moves left to the first available player who has not yet been eliminated. This continues around the table until every player but one has been eliminated.
1 point is awarded for every correct guess. 6 points are awarded to the winner of the round. The role of reader passes to the left, and another round is played. When everyone has been reader once, the game is over. The high score wins.
The Dynamics of the Game
Every game of Things… I’ve played has taken on a life of its own. It’s one part memory game, one part deception game, and one big part creative game. You’re playing to an audience of your peers. Because the topic cards will be different every time you play, and the cast of players will probably shift a little, each game takes on a different feel.
I’ve read criticisms of Things… that center around the memory component. I don’t think it’s important for two reasons. First, you don’t have to remember a response verbatim. You just need a key word or phrase. If you say, “the bagel answer,” everyone at the table will know what you’re referring to. You don’t need to say, “My Uncle Ralph’s bagel and schmear.” Second, the memory element is a means to an end. The game isn’t about remembering who wrote what. It’s about writing funny answers and escalating the humor quotient which each new answer. The designers needed some mechanic to hang it on, and they hung it on memory.
One aspect of Things… that I particularly like is the deception. To minimize the chances that my response will be identified as mine, I must try to write as if I were one of the other players. Of course, all of the other players are doing the same thing. The results can be hilariously inept.
Responses often get repeated in subsequent rounds. Something that was funny in the first round is often resurrected and ratcheted up in later rounds. But unlike Hollywood producers who don’t know when to let sleeping Jasons or Freddies lie, the group is usually aware enough to drop the response when the humor returns begin to diminish.
A Word of Caution
Things… can take a bawdy turn. The topic cards themselves are innocuously neutral. The box contains nothing remotely questionable, and if your group objects to bawdy or naughty, the game can easily be played in a G-rated way. It will still be fun. That said, the cards pretty clearly make it easy for you to give in to your baser, raunchier side. If you don’t even want to be tempted to move in that direction, pick another game. I don’t mind feeding my naughty side now and then. Neither, apparently, do the many people to whom I’ve introduced this great game. It’s been a hit every time I’ve brought it out.
At its heart Things… is simply a good excuse to direct your thoughts in some odd way as you let the creative juices flow. It really is Humour in a Box.
I give it a 10 out of 10.
Once a month we have a large dinner party at our home. We bought Things a year ago... I liked the wooden box it came in and it was a good crowd game. We love it! Things you wish your parents told you...... Things you should not do in church.... Things that should not be on a billboard. We typically have an answer that players repeat - goats, Andy Gibb, Jana Jamison... I am really glad the game is back in print.
I run a board game afternoon each Sunday at my church, with quite a few people staying and playing games. The "designer" games see a lot of play, and people are usually quite willing to try new things. But party games still have a good following, as there's just something about them that people enjoy. Things... Humour in a Box (Quinn & Sherry Inc., 2002 -- designer not credited) is another in a series of party games that we've recently tried. Things... adds a bit of a memory element and deduction to your typical everyone-input-an-answer party game.
While not attaining the status of great party games such as Time's Up and Why Did the Chicken?, Things... did go over quite well in my groups -- enough to where it was requested time and time again. It didn't play very well with a teenager crew, but with adults -- everyone had a blast! There will be some that don't like the memory aspect (can be ignored using a variant), and others may attempt to be "gamey" when playing; but for the most part, Things... is a party game worthy of owning. (As long as you already have the big three -- Apples to Apples, Time's Up, and Why did the Chicken?)
Each player is given some paper, a pencil, and a stack of
Topic cards (300 are included in the game) that are placed
in the middle of the table. One person is the "reader" for
the first round and takes the top card and reads it aloud.
Examples of topics are...
- Things... cannibals think about while dining.
- Things... that are harder than they look.
- Things... you shouldn't say to your in-laws.
- Things... you would do if you were a giant.
All players, including the reader, write an answer to the card, and pass them to the reader. After receiving all the responses, the reader reads them aloud twice. Starting with the player to the left of the reader, each player makes one guess as to who wrote what response. If they guess correctly, they receive one point, and the player whose answer they guessed is out of the round. The correct answer also gives them another guess. If the player guesses incorrectly, their turn is over; and the player to their left (if not eliminated) gets a chance to guess. This continues until all players have been eliminated but one (or more than one, if no one can remember any of the responses), at which point six points are split amongst the remaining players.
The responses are never re-read, until half of the players have been eliminated, at which point the remaining responses are read one final time. After the round ends, a new reader picks a topic card, and the game continues. After a set number of rounds, the game ends; and the player with the most points is the winner!
Some comments on the game...
- Components: Things... comes in wooden box with a sliding, removable lid. The box seems fairly durable (I cracked mine, but I did drop it from a backpack while moving quickly) and is light. The box is also split into three sections -- one for the small pencils included with the game (all party games should do this), one for the 300 topic cards (which are okay quality -- as party cards go), and one for the response papers and score sheets. I have to stop and talk about the response sheets here, as I thought they were a clever idea. The response pad, which is thick (I guesstimate about 200 sheets or so), is perforated so that players can tear each paper into five equal strips. This cuts down on the waste from other party games (in some, we continually scribble out old answers so that we can re-use the same paper) and is a pretty neat idea. The only bad thing I'll say about Things... Humour in a Box is that the game doesn't look very fun, as the box, cards, and everything else just isn't flashy or very interesting. That doesn't reflect in gameplay but may affect people's purchasing decisions.
- Rules: The rules come on a single-sheet of paper, double-sided. They are short, as with most party games and formatted okay for the most part. I DON'T think it's NECESSARY to CAPITALIZE as many WORDS as they did in the rules, but it's not a big deal. Players learn the game quite quickly -- pretty much par for a game such as this.
- Easy Play: The game has some memory elements, and every game I've played in has people sitting there, trying to remember the different responses given. It's usually not that big of a deal; you can always guess the same incorrect response as the person before you with a different person, but some folks may not like this memory aspect. The rules mention an easy play variant, in which players can write down a word or two of each response to help them remember them better. Personally, I like playing WITH the memory aspect, but to each their own.
- "Gamey": I've played games similar to this with my classes before, and one problem can crop up. If one particular player is winning, each other player can, in turn, guess that player's name in connection with a different response. That player will, according to the law of averages, eventually be eliminated from the game, and probably, according to the law of grudges, be annoyed with everyone else. This has only cropped up once in my playings, but the possibility is there.
- Age, Players, Time: Since there is only one round for each person (we often change this), the game ends pretty quickly. The game can handle up to fifteen players (according to the box), although I haven't played with more than ten. It does NOT make a good game for four players, and I wouldn't play with less than six. One thing that I found was that the teenagers just didn't really "get" the game. They wrote answers that were too obvious from their personalities, and often had a hard time coming up with responses. Adults, on the other hand, did very well with the game and had a great time, even though occasionally the answers to the topics strayed into some very odd answers.
- Fun Factor: The most fun part of this game is hearing one player ask another incredulously, "You wrote that!!!??" When a demure player writes an answer that is totally out of character, yet funny or poignant, it really makes the game fun to play. Some of the topic cards, such as Things... you shouldn't advertise in the classified ads, lend themselves automatically to humorous responses, but it's interesting to see what people write to any topic. In fact, the game could even be played with a psychological bent -- to see what people's personalities are like from their responses, but I could care less; I'm just here to have fun.
If trying to guess what other players' silly responses to a topic are sounds like fun to you, then Things... is a great game that you should get. I enjoy the game; and while I won't pull it out as much as my top party games, it will see a lot of play. For one, it can handle very large groups of people and has a bit of a "breaking ice" type feel, where you can learn about each other (in a funny way). For another, the shock on people's faces when they realize the author of specific responses is just priceless sometimes. If party games go over well in your groups, this is one you shouldn't miss!
"Real men play board games."