On this weird little island, everyone wears big masks–but can you still recognize each other? Quickpick: Island of Monster Masks is a silly game of making faces.
At a glance: Quickpick: Island of Monster Masks is a game from Ares Games for 3 to 8 people, ages 4 and up, and takes about 5-20 minutes to play (depending on number of players). It retails for $15. It’s perfectly suited for younger kids–there’s no reading necessary–but may not be great for older players who are self-conscious about making goofy faces.
There are 16 different faces on the square Monster tiles, which are 3″ square cardboard tiles. The Secret Mask cards are the same size as the tiles, with 3 copies of each monster face in the deck. The cards are decent quality, glossy finish. The illustrations are funny–the faces look like robots, fish monsters, trees, and more.
The whole thing comes in a small square box–it’s a little bigger than absolutely necessary, but is still quite compact.
How to Play
The goal of the game is to collect the most cards.
To set up, place the 16 Monster Tiles face-up in a grid on the table. Shuffle the Secret Mask cards, and then make a deck consisting of 6 cards per player. The rest of the cards are returned to the box (without looking at them).
Players take turns being the Mime. The Mime draws the top card of the Secret Masks deck and looks at it secretly (of course). Then the Mime tries to act out the face shown on the card silently. The other players simultaneously try to guess which of the faces the Mime is making, and slap a hand on the matching Monster Tile. Each player may only slap one tile, and each tile may only be slapped by one player.
Once everyone has made a choice, the Mime reveals the card. If somebody guessed correctly, the Mime keeps the card as a point and the guesser draws the top card of the deck, looks at it, and keeps it as a point. If nobody guessed correctly, the Mime discards the Secret Mask card and the top card of the deck (without looking) back into the box.
Then the turn ends and it’s the next player’s turn to be the Mime.
The game ends when there are no more cards in the deck. The player with the most cards wins–no tie-breakers.
There’s a variant that allows for sound effects, though you still aren’t allowed to give word clues like “Grrrrreeeeeeennnnn!”
Okay, so Quickpick isn’t going to win any awards for depth of strategy, but it’s still quite amusing. If your gaming group likes play charades-style games and being goofy, this will be a great fit. Several of the masks have toothy grimaces that may seem somewhat similar, which means that it’s not always immediately obvious what face somebody is mimicking. And sometimes you’ll be too busy laughing at the Mime to remember to slap a tile quickly.
There is a little strategy, though. There are 3 of each face in the deck. Each time you guess correctly, you get to draw a card from the deck as a point. But that also gives you information about a card that is no longer in the deck–information that nobody else has. Theoretically, this could give you a slight advantage, allowing you to eliminate a face that might be similar to others when guessing. In practice, the game goes quickly enough that you may not really be able to remember which cards you’ve seen in the moment that everyone is slapping their hands on the tiles.
I do recommend making a house rule that the Mime should announce that they’re about to make their face; since the Mime is silent, a lot of times a player is sitting there making a face and not everyone realizes it. Personally, I also think it would help to have a mirror (or selfie cam) nearby so you can practice your face a little before you show it to the other players, but perhaps that’s part of the challenge.
The game plays quickly and accommodates a lot of players, and adults and kids can play together without any significant disadvantages. Each player will get 3 chances to be the Mime, so the game takes about 5 minutes with 3 players and lasts longer if you have more players. Even at 8 players, though, it’s still a pretty short game.
I do think it’s better with more people, just because of the chaos of seven people trying to slap the faces all at once. It’s a light game that’s easy to teach. I probably won’t play it as much with my regular gaming group (which tends to prefer strategic games) but I had fun with it on a recent family retreat, and it’s great for entertaining a gaggle of kids. My own kids really enjoyed playing it, and wanted to keep playing it over and over again.
Quickpick: Island of Monster Masks is in stores now and available online.
Disclosure: I received a review copy of this game.
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