So, it's not often I start a review with an apology but here we go. I offered to review the board game First Dates by Big Potato Games, assuming it would be a glorified version of the Mr & Mrs game with the First Dates branding on it – and I was completely and utterly wrong, hence my apology for judging a board game by it’s cover. I am very sorry.
First Dates - Table for Two
Moving onto what the game actually is, if you’ve seen the popular TV show then you’ll be familiar with the theme, and if you’ve not seen the show, it's essentially based on a television programme where a number of people in each episode are set-up on a blind date, and it’s full to the brim with awkwardness, weirdos and cringe-worthy moments (there’s also people that get along perfectly and have a nice meal, but that seems less interesting to me so I’ll focus on the former).
The awkwardness aspect is embodied in this board game, where each ‘couple’ will have to answer a series of increasingly difficult/embarrassing questions, and choose whether the answer applies to themselves or their ‘partner’. The other ‘couples’ will be voting as to whether they believe the ‘couple’ will agree on their answer, or disagree. The winner at the end is the ‘couple’ that scores the most points from the correct number of guesses, after every ‘couple’ has had a turn.
Now the reason I mention ‘couples’ every time in inverted commas, is because you don’t need to be a couple to play this game, in fact, it’s arguably more fun to play against your friends for extra weirdness and the questions aren’t even geared towards the people on a team being a couple, which is also refreshing. The game even mentions this in the first page of the rule book.
This means whatever the make-up of your group, you can crack this game out and have many good laughs, (provided you are all of appropriate age considering some of the questions). You don’t even need to be familiar with, or a fan of the show, in order to enjoy the First Dates game.
If you have an odd number of players, then one person is encouraged to be the maître d’, aka Fred from the TV show, who talks complete nonsense at various intervals during the programme, but here you’ll be reading out the questions and choosing the couples – French accent optional.
The couple that goes first each takes a verdict board and a pen. They are asked a series of questions and must write down either their own name or their team mate’s name as the answer. If they disagree they get nothing, but if they agree, they score two points, but they are not allowed to communicate with each other in any way.
Meanwhile, the other couples play along and choose whether they think the couple will agree or disagree and will therefore play the appropriate agree or disagree card, whilst simultaneously discussing loudly who they would pick to put the couple off. If they predict correctly, they score one bonus point. The winner is the team with the most points after every couple has answered all their questions.
The questions each team have to answer are grouped into three categories: Starter, Main & Dessert. The Starter questions are fairly tame, including things like: “who would win in a dance off?”, “who would win in a rap battle?”, or strangely, “who can wee the furthest?”. This is where you don’t want to be too cocky, in case you’re asked to provide evidence of said abilities.
The main questions ramp it up a notch on the awkward scale, including “who has the more annoying voice?”, or even my personal favourite: “who would pose more of a threat to society if they had the power of invisibility?”.
Moving onto Dessert, and this is where it starts to get proper weird, with questions like “who is more likely to eat their pet?” or another personal favourite: “who would punch their mum in the head for £10,000?”. Now, I love my mum, but I even I had to think twice about this one.
There are far more risqué questions in First Dates, but I’ve tried to keep the review as clean as possible, so you’ll just have to pick up the game to find out just how awkward this can get! The answer: very!
Even having played quite a few similar games such as Cards Against Humanity, or Would You Rather, there were some questions in here I was grossly unprepared for, which gave a lot of laughs all round when we all debated afterwards who we thought the answer most applied to, as well as forcing each other to put their money where their mouth is and prove they could win a rap battle against the other person, but you may want to leave the room when the “who’s farts smell the worst?” question comes up.
The Bill Please
In summary, First Dates is an extremely fun party game, which you can play with any group of people, provided they are all adults, and that you’re all comfortable with answering awkward questions about each other.
The only potential negatives I have about the game would be for example the packaging – the box is quite large considering there is no game board and everything is done with cards and small whiteboard type cards for your answers. I feel the box and contents could be a bit more streamlined to make this smaller and more portable, and for better storage.
Also, whilst it is a lot of fun answering the questions, it’s arguably less so for those voting whether the two people will agree or not, since often the game will progress too quickly to have sufficient discussion. We found it worked better for us as a group if the other teams voted in secret, on whether they thought the answer applied to ‘Person A’ or ‘Person B’, as this produced more of a reaction once the answers were revealed, and allowed more time for humorous discussions, like someone having to defend themselves to people who have suggested they would be more likely to eat their own pet.
My only other concern is that if you play this game with the same group and/or partner each time, eventually the same questions will start to crop up again, which may limit replay-ability. However, it remains to be seen whether you can purchase ‘expansions’ of some kind to add new questions into the mix.
All being said, First Dates is a lot of fun, and those familiar with the show will enjoy the theme, and the potential for awkwardness, a lot of laughs, and debates which will inevitably arise from the well thought out and wide range of questions.