Once upon a time, many years ago, I used to pride myself on my prowess at the game Trivial Pursuit. I would regularly beat my elders and possibly betters at this game of useless and obscure facts mixed with seemingly common knowledge. Well, common to me, because I was a bit of a science nerd, a TV and film geek and knew a smattering of history and geography and always had my head in one book or another.
Yes, I was intolerable and had few friends.
But as is well known, pride comes before a fall and the Achilles Heel in my ointment was… I knew next to nothing about the sport. And if you remember your Trivial Pursuit, once you have completed all your pieces of pie (one for each category: Arts and Literature, History, Geography, Entertainment, Science and the dreaded Sport), you have to go to the centre and answer a question in the category of your opponent’s choosing.
Yes. That’s right. I would just be stuck in endgame limbo whilst they asked endless questions about which footballer knocked the wickets off a hurdle in the commonwealth thingy thirty years ago. Occasionally I would get lucky and they would ask a nice sensible question about purple properties in Monopoly (don’t judge me; I was young) but mostly it was the wicket scenario above.
Why all this about this? Well, it’s because there’s a new trivia game on the block that may finally break me from my sports question hell. It comes from Clarendon Games, is called Poppycock and is, despite the name, a lot more family friendly than their last release…
The Tooth, The Whole Tooth and Nothing But The Tooth
Poppycock is a trivia-based game for 3 – 6 players, but there’s a bit more to it than question-answer-get the pie. The idea of the game is to make your way across the tooths of truth around the maw of lore (I made those names up, but I think they’re pretty cool). First one to do a circuit of the chow-chow of know-how (stretching a bit) wins. The game.
To do this, players take it in turns to answer questions set by the proceeding player. They do this by taking a card and rolling a multi-coloured dice – the result indicates which category to ask, though there is a blank ‘wild’side.
The player then… doesn’t answer the question – this is where it gets different. Instead, they say either ‘3’, ‘2’, ‘1’ or ‘don’t know’, depending on how confident they feel or want to appear. This determines how many spaces they will move on their turn (there are bonus Gold Teeth, which allow a player to add one to their movement if they are on them, so some move sizes can be tactical).
The other players then decide whether they are convinced that the inquisitive knows the answer (‘Persuaded’) or not (‘Poppycock’). If everyone is persuaded, the Inquisitee moves forward the requisite number of spaces without answering the question. Also, if any other player says ‘Poppycock’, the inquisitive must give their answer.
If they are correct, they go forward the requisite number of spaces and every Poppycock-er goes back that number of spaces. If they are wrong, THEY go back that number of spaces and the Poppycock-ers go forward that number of spaces as a reward for calling out the do-do head liar.
And that’s it! Players will to and fro for the game until one person lands on the final tooth and claim the title of Professor Bluffmeister or some such similar loft title. The choice is yours.
It’s A Game Of Triv And Take
Like other Clarendon Games, this is definitely in the icebreaker/party category and is simple to learn, quick to play and will result in a certain amount of amusement and surprise (especially when you are certain about the answer to something or that someone would know nothing about a particular subject).
It plays not only on people’s knowledge but also on people’s assumptions – it also allows you to find out more about your friends than other games, so it might even, heaven forfend, lead to… conversations?
I will say that the design and look of the game are very basic 80’s/90’s style – a bit garish but functional – but the components are robust and do their job. I guess you can’t ask more than that.
It’s not an all-nighter game, but there is a certain allure to trivia-based games. Also, the added element of bluffing your way out of answering will mean that you won’t go through all the questions immediately, so there’s less opportunity for memorizing the questions. The multi-choice structure may make it too easy for some, but you don’t have to give the multi-choice answers if your group feel pretty University Challenge.
The random element also means that your opponents can’t always spam you with your weakest subject, so you won’t be expected to answer endless sports questions. And that’s a win in my book. All in all, this is a fun and fast feast of facts that won’t outstay it’s welcome.