Overview: Released last September, Fictionaire is a game about bluffing the other players — whether it’s making up definitions for obscure words, inventing stories about science and nature or coming up with strange-but-true tales.
Players: 4 to 7 (or more)
Ages: 10 and up
Playing Time: 10 to 20 minutes
Retail: $10 per pack
Rating: Balderdashtic! By which I mean — great for people who like to make things up.
Who Will Like It? People who like Balderdash and the dictionary game will enjoy this. It’s a bit like the “Bluff the Listener” section of “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!” where the panelists present one true news story and several fake ones and the listener has to guess which one is real. It takes a bit of quick on-your-feet thinking but if you have gamers who like to lie and bluff this will be a good one for you.
The Fictionaire games come in four different themes:
- Classic: like the traditional dictionary game — given a word, provide the definition
- Naturals: surprising information about our physical world
- Fool Science: interesting scientific trivia
- Tall Tales: news of the weird
But each one plays the same way — trick the host with your fabricated answer or give the real answer and hope they get it right.
Each Fictionaire pack comes in a small box with 60 double-sided cards with one question on each side, 14 point cards to keep score, and a couple cards that include the rules and a demo card to show people how the actual cards are formatted.
They also come (as you can see in the picture above) in cardboard boxes that have been designed to look like a cigarette pack. The box and cards have been designed to work together, so that the host will only see the question and the other players can slide the card up to read the actual answer. It’s a clever solution and makes for a very portable game. However, the cigarette-package look them is a little off-putting and I’m not sure it’s appropriate for a game that’s rated ages ten and up. The cards are even covered with a foil wrapper inside the box to make it look even more like a package of cigarettes.
Set out a stack of point cards equal to double the number of players.
Players take turns being the “host,” the one who has to guess the correct answer. The host slides out the card so that only the question is visible (the orange part of the demo card in the picture) and reads the question. The other players then pass the box around, sliding the card up so they can see the real answer below.
Each player either gives a a made-up answer or the real answer, but one person must give the real answer. (If you’re the last to go and everyone else made something up, then you give the real answer.) There will be a few words of the answer printed in red — if you choose the real answer, you must use those words, and if you make up an answer it must not contain any of the red words.
The host guesses which of the answers is correct. If she’s correct, she keeps the Question card and the person who gave the answer gets a point card. If not, the person who tricked the host gets both the Question card and the point card.
The game ends when you run out of Point cards (basically each player gets two turns as host) and the player with the most cards (combined) wins. To play with more than seven people, you’ll just need a few more tokens to stand in for the needed point cards.
As I said before, you pretty much know if this is the sort of game you and your friends will like. Do you like inventing stories and trying to bluff your way through? Then you’ll like Fictionaire. Can’t come up with a story to save your life? You probably won’t. I like the fact that the game comes in a couple different varieties, so you can tailor the game to the group playing. Personally I liked the “Tall Tales” version because it’s like the News of the Weird in game form.
My only gripe, really, is the look of it. Whose idea was it to sell a family game in cigarette packaging? For many people, this will be a turn-off in the store, and they might be missing out on a truly fun game while wondering why their local games store decided to start selling smokes.
Wired: A bluff-the-listener game with a clever format and four different themes.
Tired: Family-unfriendly packaging.
Disclosure: GeekDad received a review copy of Fictionaire.