Saturday, July 24, 2010

Game Review Week: 6/7 - The Mad Magazine Game with Special Guest Facts in Five

by Miguel Cruz of

Nathan asked me to write a review for a game I liked, and I offered up the Mad Magazine Game and Facts in Five. Nathan was intrigued by the Mad Magazine Game, so that's what I'm going with. The problem is that it's been easily 15 years since I've actually played the game, and I have a fleeting recollection of the specifics. All I'm left with is the fact that the game was fun to play, and that it's primary objective was to be the first person to lose all your money. In that way, it seemed to be designed as a parody of sorts to Monopoly, a game I can't recall actually ever liking. For me, Monopoly usually ends with me growing increasingly bored, and giving up in order to escape the tedium. So in a way, the fact that Mad Magazine has a primary objective that is the opposite of Monopoly's is similar to the fact that my interest in Mad is the opposite of my interest in Monopoly.

Since I couldn't actually remember all the specifics of Mad, I had to do some "research" which amounts to me looking up the game online and, ummm, reporting on what they said (sort of like plagiarism).

So I will describe the game using very similar phraseology (identical) as on the above referenced site. That's just coincidence. It's something called parallel thinking. When you're talking about the same subject. every so often you come up with very similar wordings and word orders.

"In MAD you throw the dice with the left hand and moves around the board counter clockwiseWhen it is a players turn he throws the dice, moves his counter and follows the instructions for the square he lands on. Some squares will influent all players, others just the player who landed on it. Examples of squares:

* Switch money with the player to the right
* Move four squares back
* You lose 1000 bucks if all players sit. If one stands, you win 2000

If a player lands on a "Pick a card"-square, he draws a "What Now?"-card and follow the instructions. Examples of "What Now?"-cards:

* If you can make the player on your left laugh, you'll lose 1000 bucks
* Switch place with any other player of your choice
* Stand up and pretend to be your favorite pet. If you can do this lose 2000 bucks"

And just like the author of that article, I also "remember the game as quite funny, and there were always a wild chaos of people changing money and changing seats. " I hope the guy who wrote that isn't like Nathan. One of Nathan's favorite sites on the www, Wikipedia, has a pretty detailed description of some of the gameplay cards. Here is a sampling:

"If you can jump up and stay airborne for 37 seconds, you can lose $5000. If not, jump up and lose $500."

"Put this card on top of your head and walk around the table backwards. If it doesn't fall off before you sit down, you lose $1000."

Speaking of Wikipedia, I can use that as a seque to just go ahead and talk about Facts in Five. Here's a description according to Board Game Geek since I also have a fleeting memory of the specifics of that game also.

"Five cards are drawn. Each card contains a "class" and a list of "categories". A category is selected for each class and the players and five letter tiles are drawn. The players have 5 minutes to come up with an example that begins with each letter for each class/category."

The fundamental flaw with this game, at least when we first picked it up in 1987, was that there was no way to verify answers. I got fucked out of an answer that I now know to have been true. One of the categories was American authors. I had an A, and the name that popped into my head was Isaac Asimov. Mind you, I had no idea really who he was. Just a name that I had heard, and pulled it out for this game. My mom rejected the answer saying that Asimov was not an American author. With that name he was clearly Russian. Of course, I just assumed she was correct, and stood idly by while I lost a point for an answer that just so happened to be largely correct. Asimov was born in Russia, but came to the U.S. when he was three.

A couple of years later, during another game, I hit upon the logical fallacy of argumentum ad populum. One of my answers was challenged. So my mother decided to call for a vote. Everyone raised their hands agreeing that my answer was not true. In that scenario, I was much more certain of the correctness of my answer, so I angrily yelled, "If you all voted that George Washington wasn't the first president that doesn't make it so." If only I had known that nifty little Latin phrase at the time that might have dazzled them even further. But for the time being I think my hostility might have had more sway in letting me keep my point than a real appeal to reason.

The point being that now if such a question arose during a game, it's easy to check on it. Okay, we all know that since Wikipedia is edited by anyone who wants to edit it, all information on it is clearly false. But at least it's a safer bet than having to fact check with your retarded friends.

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