Thursday, May 23, 2013

Game Review: ImaginIff

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Can be funny; can learn about yourself and your friends
Cons: Can be mean; hard to play if you don't know the group well; random questions
The Bottom Line:
I've enjoyed this game
But it's also frustrating
There are better games

ImaginIff This Were a Better Game

There are some group games that everyone seems to love.  Then there are the ones that some people love and I just don't seem to get.  ImaginIff is one such game.  The premise is decent, but the execution leaves something to be desired.

The game is fairly simple to learn.  The board has an outer circle of spaces.  These are used to write the names of the players.  There are eight spaces, so if less than eight people are playing, you need to find someone everyone in the group knows well enough to include.  It can be a mutual friend or a celebrity or Politian.

The inner circle has the game spaces.  That are arranged in a spiral, starting on the outside and winding to the finish in the middle.

To play the game, the leader of that round rolls the die and moves a pawn around the circle on the outside, choosing who that round will be about.  Then, they draw the top card from the pile and read it aloud.  You'll wind up with something like this.  "ImaginIff Mark was to watch one of these movies.  Which would he choose first?"  From there, you'll get six options such as Toy Story, Titanic, Friday the 13th, Sound of Music, Casablanca, and Lord of the Rings.  The entire group, including the person who read the card and the person it is about, then choose the number of their answer, keeping it hidden from everyone else in the group.

Now here comes the twist.  Once everyone has their answer, they are revealed.  The most popular answer is the correct answer.  So it doesn't matter that I said Toy Story.  If everyone else in the group said Titanic, I would be wrong and they would get a point.  That can be an interesting twist at times because you can see how your friends really see you.  Other times, when everyone is wrong, it can be frustrating.

If you are part of the majority group, you get to move your token forward one space in the inner circle.  If you were the leader, you get to move forward two spaces.  The position of leader then moves around the circle, and you continue.

On the surface, this sounds like a fun game.  And it really can be.  However, it has several flaws.  For starters, if you are playing in a group where not everyone knows each other well, the outsiders are at a distinct disadvantage.  This was me recently, and it was obvious a couple of times as I was the only one not picking the correct answer about people I had just meant that night.

My bigger problem is that I am too logical for the game.  Yes, some questions are like the example I gave earlier, but others are much harder.  "ImaginIff (blank) were a school supply.  ImaginIff (blank) were a condiment.  ImaginIff blank were a car."  How do I know if you are ketchup or mustard?  Really, how do you even answer a question like that?

Finally, some of the questions can be mean.  When you start comparing people to animals, you don't get stuff like dogs and cats, you get warthogs and anteaters, for example.  I played this game with a group of friends one time several years ago, and we actually got discouraged because it seemed like all the answers weren't nice.  We actually started trying to land on the spaces for people not playing so we could avoid hurting each other.  I've even played with people who have said, "No one had better choose answer 4 for me."

Not that I haven't had a good time playing the game.  Sometimes, the questions and answers can be rather silly.  We've laughed just reading the questions, never mind applying it to anyone in particular.  It is a way to learn more about each other and how people see you.

Really, ImaginIff is a mixed bag for me.  It has some serious flaws, but in the right hands, it can be fun.  It's not a game I regularly choose to play, but if others really want to play it, I don't try to talk them out of it.

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