Smart Ass – Game Review – A Trivia Party Game

No, this is not a cheeky game review but rather a review of a game called Smart Ass.

Overview

Smart Ass is a rather simple but interesting Trivia Game from University Games, a nifty little company that I had never heard of before playing Smart Ass. Essentially the game is about one player giving the others little clues until someone can identify What, Who, or Where the “I” of the question is. The game moves fairly quickly and while it has a few snags should appeal to anyone who likes trivia.

While I had never heard of University Games before I did go and check out their website before writing this. They seem to have a lot of offerings for younger players, many of which have an educational leaning. I also found that they have a contest for young players to create their own game and submit it to University Games, possibly getting their game published. As I would like to see new innovations in game design in the years to come, a game company supporting and encouraging young people to design games appeals to me.

How to Play

Each player takes a playing piece and one player is chosen to go first, which means read a card first. Officially this player is the oldest, which I found slightly odd in that most often these games choose the youngest but there does seem to be some disadvantage in being the first to read so perhaps that was their goal. (Of course, it could also be pointed out that this game is called Smart ASS and seems, because of that, to be geared more to older players.)

On a player’s turn they roll the color die, a 12-sided die that has three different colors on it which correspond to the three different decks of questions: Who Am I, Where Am I, What Am I? The player then draws the appropriate card and begins reading the ten statements (clues) on the back of the card. In general the first few clues are fairly general while the last clue is the initials of the answer. Players can guess at any point but they only get one guess per card and thus may want to hold back until they are sure. Of course, if another player takes a chance and is correct they could miss a question that they knew.

When a player gets a question right they roll the die. (Oddly, the movement die is another twelve-sided die which has numbers between one and four on it. I suppose I can understand them not wanting to include a four-sided die for movement, some people find these dice hard to roll, but I have seen eight-sided dice numbered one through four before and one of these would have sufficed.) If no player answers correctly the player who was asking the question rolls instead, thus someone is always moving on a turn.

There are three special spaces that a player can land on while moving: Hard Ass, Dumb Ass and Kick Ass. Hard Ass spaces give the player a bonus question. These questions are more like your traditional trivia questions and are only asked to the landing player. If the player gets it right they get an extra move by again rolling the die. Dumb Ass spaces render the playing landing on them mute for one round. That is, they cannot ask a question; if it was to be their turn play passes to the next player, and they cannot answer the next question if it was not their turn. Kick Ass spaces are one of the few flaws I found with this game. When a player lands on one they move the person back three spaces. As there are only four numbers that can be rolled if you are 1 – 4 spaces away from landing on a Kick Ass space you have a 25% chance of being sent back. This is fairly harsh in that it is possible (and happened in our game of Smart Ass) to have this happen a couple moves in a row.

The winner is the player to move all the way around the board and land on the Smart Ass space at the end.

Analysis

I have, to some degree, set myself up as a connoisseur of party games and thus I am willing to be a bit harsh when looking at games that I feel fit into the “party” style of game.

First the positives of Smart Ass. The game moves rapidly and all players are always playing (unless they have landed on a Dumb Ass space). This is a strong selling point for a party game and a trivia game. One of the drawbacks to the classic Trivial Pursuit is that unless you are playing divided into two teams (and even then since only one on the opposing team is asking each question) several players are doing nothing for a significant part of the game. Another positive of the game is that it can be played by as many as eight players, which is a fairly sizable number for a game like this. As play is generally happening at the same time, adding more players does not bog things down too much.

Other positives are that the questions are fun to try to figure out and its difficult to know when to make your guess for each question. I myself knew several answers but did not feel certain of them and thus ended up losing the question to another player who jumped in first.

On the other hand I did feel there were a few negatives to this game. My primary problem with it is that while the game boasts 490 questions it seems that players could work their way through them fairly quickly. To make it a bit worse if one color comes up more than the others a group could see that deck showing repeats fairly early on and have to decide what to do about it.

Other than this concern, I already mentioned my distaste for the Kick Ass space on the board. It simply seems unnecessary. Perhaps a better idea would have been a space that let you move another player back spaces as it could have been a way to pick on the leader rather than a random player who simply rolls poorly.

Conclusion

Over all I like the game Smart Ass. It was fun and fast-paced and I would certainly play it again. I do not actually own the game but rather played it at my in-laws as it was given as a gift to my father in-law. After our initial play my wife wanted to get a copy for our house but I mentioned my concerns about running out of cards and she decided it would be best just to play it when we were at her parent’s house.

I highly recommend this for people who are looking for a fun trivia game but not one they plan to play constantly. It works very well for people that only get out games a few times a year but will, in my opinion, be quickly played to death by some groups that get addicted to their new games and play them over and over.

Feel free to comment below if you have had a chance to check out Smart Ass!

  1.  

    I started wanting to modify the rules to games, and even make my own, at an early age – and I know for a fact I was not alone in that regard. It is cool to see a game company actively encouraging young would-be game designers.

  2.  

    […] line, of the group of four of us, everyone thought this Smart Ass game was awesome. [/amazon_link][amazon_link id="B000NP4832" target="_blank" locale="US" container="" container_class="" ]Smart Ass …clues on it that go from very vague to very specific. As the reader reads the clues everyone else […]