Posted by: gschloesser | August 11, 2011

Such a Thing

Design by:  Urs Hostettler
Published by:  Valley Games
2 – 10 Players, 30 minutes
Review by:  Greg J. Schloesser  

I’ve always been a big fan of party games.  I’ve spent countless evenings with friends playing untold numbers of party-style games, most of which are designed to elicit laughter and good conversation.  While I have the reputation of being a staunch “European-style” gamer, I’m still eager to play a fun party game. 

Such A Thing? by designer Urs Hostettler challenges players to think of something that fits a number of different specifications and descriptions.  Each player continues to add to the description until one player is challenged to “name such a thing”, at which point they will be put to the test.   

Players each receive nine cards.  Each card will list a statement, such as “Is needed for me to indulge in my hobby” or “Hardly ever leaves the area where it was built or created.”  A card is revealed from the deck, and play begins.  The start player plays a card to the table and thinks of something that fits the specifications of the card.  In turn order, players can either add card to the set or challenge the previous player to name “such a thing.”  If challenged, the last player to play a card must name something that meets the specifications of all of the cards played.  

If the player successfully names an item that meets all of the specifications, the challenger must draw three cards from the deck.  The existing cards are discarded and a new round is conducted.  If the player is unsuccessful in naming an item that meets all of the specifications, he must draw three cards, and new round begins.  Play continues until one player successfully depletes his hand of cards, thereby winning the game.  Thus, being forced to draw cards is an impediment to this goal. 

What I have just described is “The Chain” version.  The rules contain a half dozen other variations, each with their own twist.  The main mechanism, however, remains the same.  

Party games are supposed to be lively.  Such a Thing? is no such thing.  It is much more contemplative, as players study their cards and the cards that have been played to the table, attempting to think of an item that will meet the specifications.  This can take time – a lot of time – and it is time where nothing else happens and no one else is involved.  The result is constant periods of dullness.  Dull and party are not a good match. 

Another problem is that when a player names an item he feels meets all of the specifications, there is little excitement or incredulity. There is no “Wow!” factor.  The game simply continues.  Often, there is dissent amongst the players as to whether the item actually does meet the specifications, which requires some discussion and a vote.  Again, however, this fails to generate any excitement. 

There is a version in the rules known as “Speed” that does somewhat eliminate this downtime.  Three cards are revealed, and the first player to successfully name an item that satisfies all of the specifications receives a point.  Play continues until one player accumulates seven points.  This version is certainly more fast-paced, but it is also frustrating for the folks who aren’t as quick-thinking.  

My biggest complaint against the game is that it simply isn’t fun.  There is no excitement, no laughter, and very little interaction.  It fails as a party game at its very foundation.  Party games are supposed to be fun.  Such a Thing? is no such thing.

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