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WITS & WAGERS

reviewed by Herb Levy

North Star Games, 4-20 players, ages 10 and up, 20-25 minutes; $29.99

Every since Trivial Pursuit rocketed to stardom as a money-making enterprise, there has been a veritable tidal wave of trivia games covering every conceivable – and inconceivable – subject. Some have been successful; more have fallen by the wayside and into obscurity. Regardless of successes and failures, the knock on trivia games has always been the problem with the person who knows EVERYTHING! How in the world can the average guy compete with someone who can rattle off the most obscure and, yes, trivial, fact at the drop of a hat. With Wits & Wagers, the trivia game from North Star Games, that problem has been addressed head-on and solved in an ingenious way. witswagersbox

Wits & Wagers is an adult party game by Dominic Crapuchettes. The game comes with a 28 x 14 felt betting mat, 80 plastic poker chips, 100 question cards, 14 player betting chips, 7 dry-erase pens, 30 second sand sand timer and rules.

Each player (or team) begins with 1 dry-erase pen , an answer card and 2 betting chips. One player serves as the “question reader” and draws 7 questions from the box which will serve as the questions for the game.  There are seven questions on each card and the Reader reads the first question on the first card. (This order is followed on subsequent cards, i.e. question #3 is read on the third card, question #5 read on the fifth card etc.) All players simultaneously write down their answer for the read question. All answers are  in the form of a number. When the sand timer runs out, all answers are revealed and here is where Wits & Wagers presents a little twist.

All answers, in number order, from lowest to highest, are placed on the betting mat. There are seven slots on the mat for the answers,  ranging from 5 to 1 odds on the ends, down to 2-1 in the center. If two or more answers happen to be identical, they will share the same slot. If you are left with an odd number of different answers, the middle answer occupies the 2 to 1 slot with the other answers flanking it. If an even number of answers, the middle slot is left unoccupied and the answers arranged, low to high, on the remaining six slots. Now, players bet.witwagerspcs

With the 30 second timer going, players may use both of their betting chips (and their money chips) to choose which answer (or answers) come closest to the correct answer WITHOUT GOING OVER! Both chips may be placed on the same answer or you can hedge your bets by choosing the two answers you feel have a good chance of being right. And you’re not compelled to bet on your own answer. Bets may be placed on ANY answer on the mat. And that includes an eighth slot: betting that ALL answers are too high! (If you’re right, that bet will pay off at 6 to 1!)

With all bets placed, the correct answer is revealed. Losing bettors lose their risked chips. (Betting chips are returned for use in the next round.) Winners collect their payoffs based on the payout of their winning bets. Now, the next question is read, the same procedure followed, until all seven questions have been read, answered and bets on the answers collected.

The player or team who has amassed the highest value of chips when the last question is resolved wins!

Although only recently hitting our gaming tables, Wits & Wagers has been around for awhile and this review is based on the new, second, edition. With the second edition, the game has been fine-tuned. Errors on cards 2 and 22 found in the original edition have been corrected. In fact, the entire card has been changed. Also, the betting mat has undergone a change. The picture above shows the first edition betting mat where there is an even money payout slot. That has been replaced by a 2 to 1 payout with all the other payouts moving up a notch; a change for the better as everyone likes to win big and bigger payouts (or, at least, the possibility of bigger payouts) adds to the fun. Although there are still only 100 cards in the game, only one question is used on each card per game so that card stack lasts for quite a long time.

Wits & Wagers is a hybrid of the standard trivia game, The Price is Right and going to the track! But this curious concoction works! By allowing players to wager on ANY answer, ALL players have the options of  “riding the coattails” of the perceived trivia “experts” in the group or playing their own hunches or both. In any case, the result is that everyone can stay competitive and that keeps interest level high.. In short, for adult party game fun, Wits & Wagers is a sure (and winning) bet. – – – – – Herb Levy


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