Posted by: gschloesser | December 6, 2011

Ticked Off — Review

Design by:  Ted Alspach
Published by:  R&R Games
3 – 10 Players, 1 – 1 ½ hours
Review by:  Greg J. Schloesser

NOTE:  This review was first published on the Opinionated Gamers website 

Every year, there seems to be dozens and dozens of new party games released. Sadly, most of these games lack originality and are tired retreads of earlier games.  I enjoy a good party game, but it is difficult to weed through the chaff to find the hidden gems.

One of the more recent offerings in the party game genre is Ticked Off by designer and artist Ted Alspach.  Alspach is also the creator of the Board2Pieces comic strip and is known within gaming circles for his wacky sense of humor.  So, the party game genre seems a perfect fit for him.  I was anxious to try Ticked Off, as I was expecting a fun and original game filled with laughter and excitement.  I am sad to say the game fell short on numerous fronts and failed to meet my expectations.

The game is simple to play.  There are 168 two-sided cards, each with two different categories topics.  For example:  potato chip flavors, Best Actor Oscar winners, famous science fiction books, etc.  The start player takes a card, chooses one of the two topics and reads it aloud.  He then makes a bid – ranging from one-to-twenty – thereby proclaiming how many answers he can list correctly for that topic.  The bid is indicated on a track on the board.  Each player then has the opportunity to place a higher bid or pass.  This continues until everyone but one player has passed or one player has bid the maximum allowed, which is twenty.

At that point, another card is revealed and placed on the board.  The thirty-second timer is started and players furiously write as many answers as they can for EITHER ONE (but not both) of the categories listed on the two cards.  Each player is free to choose either of the two categories, so the bidding when the first card is revealed is extremely risky since the category on the second card is not yet known.

When the timer expires, the active player reads each of his answers.  If one or more players have also recorded an identical answer, both players place a tick-mark next to the word.  This is where the game’s name is derived.  In turn order, each player reads their answers and ticks-off those that other players have also recorded.  When this process is complete, points are earned and recorded on the score track.

If the active player did not list at least as many acceptable answers as he bid, he receives zero points.  Otherwise, he gets two points for each unique answer (those not recorded by any other player), plus one point for each acceptable answer greater than his bid.  All other players receive one point for each unique answer they recorded, plus one point for each acceptable answer greater than the active player’s bid.

Play continues in this fashion until one or more players surpass fifty points.  The player with the greatest amount is victorious.

I have several problems with the game.  For one, it simply takes too long.  Playing to fifty points can take well over an hour.  The game is very repetitive, with each round feeling much like the previous one.  Thus, brevity is needed.  The reading of all of the answers takes time, which is compounded the more players that are involved.  Playing to 25 or 30 points trims off a significant portion of time and subtracts absolutely nothing from game play.

Another issue is that there are frequent disagreements over what is or is not an acceptable answer.  For example, is shooting a television an acceptable answer for “things that crunch”?  The rules allow for a player vote to solve disputes, but this is time consuming, something which isn’t good in a game that already overstays its welcome.  Plus, this voting process isn’t much fun.

My major problem, however, is that it has been done before.  Sure, there are a few twists, but for the most part, the game feels like numerous other party games.  The same thing has been done better in games such as Facts in Five and Scattergories.   With so many party games to choose from, I prefer games that are original and offer something significantly new.  Ticked Off does neither.  As much as I enjoy party games and appreciate Ted Alspach’s design and artistic talents, Ticked Off fails to offer anything new or much fun.  That is truly a shame.

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