Buzzer Wizard? Fuzzy Wuzzy? What’s this now?

Today I’m going to start a new section on the blog, board game reviews.  You don’t always need a computer or a TV to have fun with games, and I’m here to help you find the best way to do it.

Bezzerwizzer.  A board game created in Denmark in 2006, from the German besserwisser or know-it-all.  This is a new take on the old trivia game (think Trivial Pursuit) and it’s tons of fun, whether just for kicks on a rainy day or at a party with a bunch of friends.

Much like Trivial Pursuit, this game is played by answering trivia questions, but unlike the six broad categories of Trivial Pursuit (geography, entertainment, history, arts & literature, science & nature, and sports & leisure), Bezzerwizzer has a whopping 20 categories.   These are made up of both more specific categories (for example instead of entertainment, this game has film, music, and TV & radio as three separate categories) and more varied categories like communities and technology.  Check out all the cool categories!

As you can see, there are all kinds of categories in this game, meaning everyone playing will have things they are good at and bad at, and you’ll see as I get into the gameplay, this factors heavily.  Also, don’t let any of these categories scare you, they all have both very difficult and laughably easy questions to go along with them.

Now, before I talk about the game itself, I want to first point out how well designed it is.  It’s got really nice color selection and board design, and all of the pieces seem very sturdy as well.  (You’ll notice in the picture below that some of the tiles are different in the European version)

Alright, so how’s it played? Up to four players (or four teams) can play.  First, all of the players get a category board.  Then all of the category tiles are placed in a bag (like Scrabble) and everyone takes four.  Now based on your strengths and weaknesses, you assign one question to be worth one point, one to be two points, one to be three, and one to be four (there’s actually a bit more strategy to deciding point values that you’ll understand later).  Each player also receives two bezzerwizzer tiles and one zwap tile.  Basic gameplay works like this: on your turn, the person to your left asks you your one point question and you turn the tile over; if you get it right, you move 1 space, if you are wrong you stay where you are.  Then by turns everyone answers their one point question.  You then repeat this for the two, three, and four point questions moving the same number of spaces as the points should you get a question right.

Here’s where it gets interesting.  Remember the bezzerwizzer and zwap tiles I mentioned before.  You can use them to change up the dynamic of the game.  First, the zwap tile.  On your turn, before your question is asked, you can play the zwap tile and swap any two tiles on the board.  You can swap one of yours that you don’t like with one that someone else has that you want, you can swap two of your opponents tiles to screw them both over with categories they don’t like, or you can swap two tiles on the same person’s board to change their point values.

Now the bezzerwizzer tiles are used to help you steal questions and earn points faster.  You can play a bezzerwizzer tile at any point to get a chance to answer your opponent’s question; after they answer and before the correct answer is revealed you give your answer.  If the person whose turn it is is correct, nothing happens to you (other than the loss of one bezzerwizzer tile), but if they are wrong you can earn some points.  How many points depends on when you played the bezzerwizzer tile.  If you played it before the question was read (simply based on the category), you get three points, but if you played it after the question was read (because you knew the answer and thought the other person wouldn’t), you get one point.  The only penalty is, if you are both wrong, the person who used the bezzerwizzer tile must go back one space.  The last twist comes towards the end of the game.  If you look at the board in the picture above, you’ll notice that there are a few spaces at the end with dots in them.  If your opponent is on one of these spaces and you correctly steal with a bezzerwizzer tile, instead of using your points to move forward, you can use them to send your opponent backwards.

At the end of every round (when all players have answered all four of their questions) the categories are reshuffled in the bag, everyone takes four new category tiles, and your bezzerwizzer and zwap tiles are reactivated.  The game ends when you reach the last spot on the board.  However, once the first player lands on this spot, everyone else gets a chance to answer to the same question level.  For example, if I am the second player and I get in on my two point question, the third and fourth player also get to answer the two point question.  If more than one person makes it to the last square, the categories get placed back in the bag, and everyone on the finish square takes on tile.  Each of them is asked a question in the category they have chosen and if they get it wrong they are eliminated.  If there is more than one person left after the question, the tiles are reshuffled and this is repeated until there is one winner.

Sounds a bit confusing, but it really isn’t, and it’s a ton of fun.  It’s also a relatively quick game, so you don’t really need all that much time to play through.  It runs for about $30 bucks at the store and I think it’s worth it.  The only potential negative is that it only comes with 200 cards (of course with 20 categories, that’s 4000 questions), so if you enjoy it like I do, you may see all of the questions quick.  Hopefully they will release extra question packs in the future.

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