If you expected a glowing Gen Con recap column this week, you're partially right.
Instead of giving you a big overview of all the cool games we found there (and there were a ton this year), this week focuses on the North Star Games' Vegas Expansion mat for their award-winning Wits and Wagers Party game. Look for the bigger Gen Con recap coming next time.
Why the focus? Because if you own Wits and Wagers Party (or even regular Wits and Wagers), you need this expansion mat. To borrow an appropriate quote from the movie "Real Genius," “It's a moral imperative.” But if you want in on the action, you need to move fast. The get-it-first Kickstarter campaign closes on Friday; go to https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/northstargames/vegas-wits-and-wagers.
MY PARTY GAME CONFESSION
First, a confession: I'm not really into most party games. Generally speaking, party games (yes, Apples to Apples included) hold my attention for about 10 minutes. After that, I'm bored out of my skull and ready to wander off.
The only party game that holds my attention, keeps me engaged and leaves me ready to play it one more time is Wits and Wagers Party. It's perfect for 5-7 players (or teams), so it fits a big family or a fun-size gathering.
Think of Wits and Wagers Party as a trivia-style party game crossed with one of those Price is Right guessing games.
That's because all of the questions in the game use numbers for the answers, but they're numbers you probably don't know, like “What percent of bank robberies are committed by women?”
If you don't know the answer to a question, just write down your best guess. (Honestly, that's half the fun of the game.)
Once all the guesses for a round get revealed, you sort them from smallest to largest and look at what everyone wrote. Then you place your betting chips on the answer or answers (since you have two chips) that you think are the closest without going over. Someone reads the correct answer and pays out the winners. Then the whole process starts again.
Since you could score for your own answer each round and for the answers where you put your chips, it really doesn't matter how much trivia you know. The game is really about playing with people, not showing off your impressive knowledge of random factoids.
And somehow the Vegas Expansion mat makes the game even better, which I really didn't think was possible. (Yes, I like the game that much.)
BRING ON THE VEGAS, BABY!
The Vegas Expansion mat is a beautiful and luxurious double-sided neoprene playing space. It's huge — it takes up a big chunk of the dinner table — and sets the Vegas mood all by itself.
One side of the mat shows the classic Wits and Wagers board, to give you two ways to play. But the other side is where the magic really starts.
The board design borrows some of its look from a roulette layout, with black, red and green spaces. It also adds betting spaces for each player on one end and a series of seven payoff spots along the bottom. The bottom spaces also serve as round markers.
The three new ways to place your bets each round make the biggest change in the game.
If you want to play it safe, go with the red or black bets. Those cover the three lowest (red) and three highest (black) player answers. The bets only pay even money, but there's still a good chance it'll pay off.
For a bit more of the Vegas experience, put your chips on a specific answer in the middle of the board or on the “Smaller” space at one end. The odds are arranged so the more extreme answers (either highest or lowest) give the best payouts.
Finally, there's the true long shot bet. This uses the pictures of each player as betting spaces. Betting here works like normal, but with a timing twist. In a long shot bet, you put your money on a particular player before the answers get revealed. Instead of betting on what they put down, you're betting on your faith that they'll come up with a good answer.
Sure it's a long shot, but that's why the spaces pay 10 to 1. Big risk, big payout. (Good luck with that!)
You need a copy of the Wits and Wagers Party game to use the Vegas Expansion mat. If you don't already have one, they included an option in the Kickstarter that gets you both the mat and the game itself.
The Kickstarter closes on Sept. 8, so if you want to get into the Vegas fun, reserve your mat today. Bring some Wits and Wagers Vegas action to your holiday parties this year — it's what we'll be playing!
Fort Wayne resident John Kaufeld is a best-selling author, speaker and dad. He enjoys playing games with his family and letting others know about them. You can email him at email@example.com and read more of his work at www.johnkaufeld.com. This column is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion of The News-Sentinel.