In a Pickle
List Price: $14.99
Your Price: $11.95
(Worth 1,195 Funagain Points!)
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Does a sofa fit in a shopping cart?
It all depends on how you size it up in this game of creative thinking and outrageous scenarios. Try to win a set of cards by fitting smaller things into bigger things -- a baby goes in a bathtub, which is in a house, in Hollywood. Play the fourth word card to claim the set, unless one of your opponents can trump with a larger word. The player with the most sets at the end is the BIG winner!
The first thing I noticed about In a Pickle, besides the interesting name, was the sheer amount of cards that came with it – 320 full sized cards. This party game (or word game, depending on your vernacular) involved players forming a relationship between words using the phrase “in the”. Reading over the rules, I thought that I had an idea of how the game worked, and tried it out with my wife. The end result, while working, was less than impressive. Since the game accommodated up to six people, I thought to try larger groups – and there, I found the game to be extremely fun.
With a loud, vocal, argumentative group, IN a Pickle can be a blast! The game and idea are tremendously simple, yet it works well. In a quieter, more reserved group, In A Pickle doesn’t work quite as well. The mechanics are still there, and work – but the game really needs a spark from the players to go over well. It’s easy, plays quickly, and can be played with a lot of table talk about other things.
All the cards have some sort of noun on them, like “Dream, New York, Wish, Hurricane, Ice, Piñata, Wood, Tuna, etc.”, with an arrow pointing downwards. Four of these cards are placed face up in the middle of the table, all with their arrows facing away from the middle of the table. Players are dealt five cards each with the remainder forming a large draw pile. The player next to the dealer goes first, and play proceeds clockwise around the table.
On a player’s turn, they can either exchange three cards from their hand with the draw pile, thus finishing their turn, or play a card. When playing a card, the player must play a larger or smaller card than one of the outermost cards in one of the four rows. For example, if the card in one row reads “needle”, I could play “haystack” underneath it – with the arrow pointing from the needle to the haystack. I would have to be able to say the phrase “There’s a needle IN THE haystack.” (my, a, and an can be substituted for “the”) Sometimes a play may be disputed by another player – “Is there really a zoo in the kindergarten?” When this happens, there is some debate about the validity of the card played, and then everyone votes on it – with ties going to the person who played the card. If a player loses one of these votes, they discard the card and their turn is over. Otherwise, the card stays on the table. Either way, the player refills their hand to five cards, and play passes to the next person.
Play continues until one row of cards has a fourth card added to it. A “Pickle” round begins immediately. Starting with the player to the left of the one who added the fourth card, each player is allowed to play one card that is larger than the card on the outermost part of the row or pass, with the player who played the card getting the final chance. Of course, challenges to cards played and voting can still occur here. Whoever plays the largest card wins the row and takes the cards, placing them face-down in front of them. A new card is placed face-up to start a new row, and all players replenish their hands to five cards. Play continues until one person wins a requisite number of rows (depends on the amount of players). That person is then declared the winner!
Some comments on the game…
1.) Components: As I said earlier, there are a TON of cards included in the game. I’ve played the game several times, and the replayability is quite high. The cards are of good quality, with interesting arrow artwork all over them, but nothing really detracting from the words on the cards, which are quite readable. The box holds all the cards easily in a plastic card holder, and the box is bright red with a pickle on it. (Interestingly enough, “Pickle” has yet to show up in any of my games.)
2.) Rules: The rules are written on ten small pages in a foldout fashion and are quite clear, with diagrams, but that’s simply because the game is that easy to learn and play. I taught the game in less than one minute, and everyone picked up on it easily enough.
3.) Creativity: The game inspires people to think outside the box when making matches. Some things are obvious, like a jungle in Africa, or paper in a book. Other things are more obscure, but more interesting as well, like universe (the word) in a dictionary, Spam in a computer, foot in mouth, and a song in my heart. It’s fun to watch people be clever with the ideas they come up with – and many times, looking at your hand full of seemingly useless cards, those obscure, creative ideas are all you’ve got!
4.) Debates: Of course some people are either too clever for their own good or simply try to pass some of the stupidest combinations possible. When I played the game with one exceptionally rambunctious group, the audacity of some of the players was high, and we had a challenge on nearly every card played. Of course, for me, this adds to the fun of the game, as to hear someone stand up and debate the undebateable is hilarious. Sometimes people could make a good case, and we would let their cards stand; but other people would just dig deeper and deeper, trying to explain away their ridiculous combos. (This includes me.) The biggest arguments occurred when discussing what exactly was “bigger”. Is love bigger than a family? Is a joke bigger than a scandal? With a quiet group, these questions would never come up, but in an extravert-filled group, the discussions were loud and heated.
5.) Variation: The game includes an alternative to ordinary play – which forces every card in a row to relate to all other cards in the row. This means, all four words would have to fit logically in the same sentence. “There is paper in the magazine in the office in France”. This makes the game a little more coherent for some, but stifles a little bit of the creativity for me. Some people like this way better; I won’t play with it.
6.) Players and Time: The game has an upwards limit of six players, but I think it can accommodate eight without too many problems. At the same time, I won’t play the game again with two – or even three. It’s just too dry that way, and there’s not much discussion. So I would only recommend the game with four or more. And since you can play to any number of rows you want as victory conditions, the game can be as short or long as you’d like.
7.) Fun Factor: The game itself is fun – but is only mediocre. It’s the creative (sometimes stupid) combinations and the ensuing dialogue that totally makes the game for me. The game, with the right, outgoing folk, is a blast to play. With quiet, more reserved people – it could be a yawner.
I really enjoy the game – it’s a lot of fun to play with the correct gregarious group. If you have people who like to debate and argue (and not take things too seriously – one shouldn’t play this game with anyone who CAN NOT lose an argument), then I recommend this game highly. It reminds me of other party games where discussion occurs (like Visualeyes), and I loved it – especially when it was at its most rambunctious. Sure, I didn’t like getting my ideas shot down, but the debate leading to it was fun. Gamewright has produced a good party game here, and one I’ll pull out often!
"Real men play board games.”
You can get the basic idea of the mechanics of this game by reading the synopsis on the back of the box, so I won't go into a long explanation. We picked it up on a discount rack at the local bookstore. Our group played it for the first time this weekend.
The problem I had with it is the creative thinking that it encourages. In my mind it might make sense that a hospital would fit in a mall, but to other people it sounded ridiculous. I attempted to defend my card saying that it doesn't necessarily have to happen in real life for it to be possible. I can think of some small hospitals and some very large malls, but my play got vetoed and created quite a stir. And yet later it made perfect sense that a vault could fit in a pool??
Any game where my wife and I argue over the validity of an answer is a complete bust. The only thing that prevents me from giving this game a 1 rating is the alternate rules offered. In these rules each card has to follow a string of reasoning instead of just relating to the card before it. In other words you can say that a Pickle fits in a paperbag, but you can't say that a person can get in a pickle. Since the pickle has been established as a literal pickle by being placed in the bag, you cannot put a person into it.
We will try these rules next time, but if there is a similar difference of opinion on what is and isn't sensible this game will probably find a lot of time on the shelf in the closet.