In the 2000s, when I was in my 20s and going to graduate school in Boston, pub trivia was the highlight of my week. The few people who can stand spending 3 consecutive hours with me tend to be a roughshod group of misfits and miscreants. As it turns out, that’s exactly what you need for pub trivia: someone who watches E!, someone who likes live music, a sports nut, a guy with instant recall of the names of all the senators and cabinet secretaries, and 5 guys who can quote movies. We won more than we didn’t. There may be no greater feeling than getting your group’s $100 bar tab comped because you knew the name of Winston Churchill’s dog.
10 years later, I don’t make it out to pub trivia so much. Yeah, the kids are in bed, but if the Commandress and I are going out, it has to justify the $40 babysitting expense. And a chance to win a few free beers on a Tuesday night doesn’t have the allure that it used to. I’ve suggested to my local alehouse that they offer gift certificates for babysitting, but I’m not sure I’d want the sleeved bartender watching my kids.
So I was curious when University Games approached Aleheads asking us to review its new pub trivia board game. I need more shit in my house, so I volunteered to take it through its paces. I did receive a complimentary copy of the game, in case any of you assholes is worried about journalistic integrity.
Pub Trivia the board game is the same general idea as trivia at your local aletrough. There’s a host (not so convenient when it’s Baron Sudsy von Brue vs. The Missus), teams, cards with questions on them, and a scoring sheet. There are some differences from the live trivia games I’ve played, such as the number of points you can get for each question are preset in the board game version. As you might expect, one man’s softball is another man’s riddle of the sphinx, so the points aren’t always very satisfying. And some questions required drawing–all way too easy for anyone with a working hand to get wrong. But on the whole, it’s the same game.
I am torn about the need for a pub trivia board game. To me, live pub trivia is an excuse to get hammered with your buddies on a Monday or Tuesday night, with the added incentive of a chance of a $25-$50 gift certificate to the bar. There are some good trivia MCs and some horrendous ones, but I don’t think you need to be a genius to find 22 questions that may stump a room full of drunk people. So I am not sure that there needs to be a home edition.
On the other hand, every board game has its occasion. I stopped wanting to play Monopoly every night long before I had to threaten Smiley Brown about his misappropriation of the Free Parking money. The questions in Pub Trivia are pretty user-friendly, with an OK balance of truly tricky ones. Based on that alone, there are definitely nights that I will take out this game, particularly in the third and subsequent hours of Copperpot’s endless droning about Syracuse basketball and the Miami Dolphins. (I wipe the floor with him in trivia.)
One thought for the makers of this game: don’t overthink it. The game is a good deal just for the thousands of questions on the cards. You don’t need a million shreds of paper, cardboard stands, questions that require drawing, or a host with formal job responsibilities. Hell, you don’t even need to pre-assign points. For version 2.0, I would go with more free beer, and fewer bells and whistles.
Compared to other pub trivia board games, I give this one the full four hops. Just don’t expect it to rival the real thing.