I've been a big fan of Wits & Wagers since it was first released back in 2005. I even participated in a Wits & Wagers game show back in 2006. North Star Games positioned this game from the start as the trivia game for people who don't know stuff ("Not a trivia buff? It doesn’t matter!") and it mostly held true to that claim. Each question has an answer that is a positive number. Players secretly guess what the numerical answer is, then everyone reveals and the answers are arranged lowest to highest. Each player then wagers on what they think is the right answer, with a very cool twist: the further an answer is away from the median, the higher the payoff if you guess correctly. Example: "How many feet are in a furlong?" Guesses might be 200, 500, and 1000. The answer of 500 would only pay 1:1, but the other two might pay off 2:1.

While I loved this betting mechanism it lead to confusion for many players and created some bad end-of-game "I'll just bet it all" brokenness that led to anti-climatic endings. I concluded that the game was more of an enjoyable activity than a real game because of this.

North Star Games recently sent me a review copy of their newer Wits and Wagers Family version which shipped in 2010. There's good and bad inside the box but mostly good.

What I like:

  • They fixed the game mechanics and took away the betting odds element. Instead, each player has a large meeple and a small meeple to bet with and players score points by having the right answer and placing the right bets. The game is a race to 15 points.
  • The price point is very attractive -- you can probably find a copy for around $15 online.
  • Even though the game only supports up to 5 players, this is one of those party games that works very well as a team game. Just find some multiple that works for your group (8 people? 4 teams of 2! 9 people? 3 teams of 3!). The group version may even be more fun than solo as you kibitz about what the correct answer might be.

What I don't like:

  • I think the questions are inferior (too family-ish?) compared to the original version. Not a problem for me as I just mixed in my questions from the original into the new box. You can also buy more questions in the Expansion Pack, which I haven't tried.

Conclusion: This is a party game staple in my house and is highly recommended. Great for gamers and non-gamers alike.