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Wits and Wagers Family from North Star Games

By John Kaufeld
Published: April 14, 2010
Wits & Wagers Family Edition
Wits & Wagers Family Edition from North Star Games
Inside the box
Contents of Wits & Wagers Family Edition
Product: When you pick up Wits & Wagers Family, the first thing you notice is the game's heft. For an under-$20 game, it feels substantial in your hand. That expresses value to your customer right away.

The front artwork is engaging, working both people having a good time and one of the game's meeples into the layout. It even includes a built-in up-sell to the game's predecessor. The rear art earns praise for making it easy to demonstrate the game right from the back of the box.

Once inside, you find enough playing pieces for five people or teams. Each team gets a dry erase answer card and pen, plus a large and small meeple for selecting an answer. Each of the 150 question cards contains two color-coded questions (yellow on top, blue on the bottom). The cards sit in a removable plastic tray.

Performance: This game really surprised me. I expect great things from the folks at North Star Games, but Wits & Wagers Family went beyond everything I anticipated.

First, Wits & Wagers Family plays fast. With three players plus a lot of time for laughter and discussion between questions, we finished every game in less than 20 minutes. A round of play only uses about 10 questions, so the game comes with enough fodder to play about 30 times before ever repeating a question.

Even more surprising was the way that the game held everyone's attention, and gave players of all ages a way to stay connected with the game. Even the five-year-old loved it, because he could come up with an answer to every question and help decide which answer to select.

The game's power comes from its scoring system. Every player or team gets three chances to score points per round: one point for writing the correct answer, plus one or two points for placing your small or large meeple, respectively, on the right answer. The game lasts until someone earns 15 points, which makes it the perfect length for any family.

My lone small complaint with the game concerns the back of the question cards. Coming from a background of playing party games like Balderdash and Trivial Pursuit, every player immediately assumed that the sentence printed on the back of the card was the answer to the question. In reality, the answer is printed on the back in tiny, light gray text positioned to the side. The sentence of text is color commentary that gives an interesting fact or other insight into the answer. That threw everybody a little, but didn't detract from the overall experience.

Marketing: This is a great game for busy families. Party game designers around the world should learn from these folks, because they're onto something big.

Wits & Wagers Family is fast to learn and play, easy to score, and leaves no room for arguments over which answer was better or whether a player really scored points or not. It's simple and engaging enough that a group of kids could play it as a birthday party activity.

When demonstrating the game, cover the basics of asking the question, writing the answer, and putting the answers in order. When you get to scoring points through voting with the meeples, make sure you explain how the pre-printed "1" card works. Since you want to choose the closest answer without going over, you can easily explain it to parents and grandparents by connecting it to the TV game show, The Price Is Right.

Stock Wits & Wagers Family with your party games. If your store includes a section specifically for kids, put a couple of copies there as well. Cross-sell it with other meeple-related games like Carcassonne and The Kids of Carcassonne. Because it gets people used to the concept of meeples as playing pieces, Wits & Wagers Family could turn into a surprising gateway game.

Product: Wits & Wagers Family
Publisher: North Star Games 
Stock No.: NSG-150
MSRP: 19.99
Availability: All major game distributors (visit North Star Games for the full list)

  • Easy game play keeps the whole family engaged, regardless of age
  • Quick playing time makes it accessible to busy families
  • Under-$20 price makes Wits & Wagers Family an easy impulse buy
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