Buzzworthiness: Say Anything

Today’s review is of a party game:

image by BGG user domcrap
image by BGG user domcrap

Say Anything was first published in 2008 by North Star Games.  The game was designed by Dominic Crapuchettes and Satish Pillalamarri, is for 3-8 players, and takes around 30 minutes to play.  This is a party game where you will ask a question about what your friends your opinion is on a topic, then you pick the best answer, and everyone else tries to predict what you’ll say.

The game comes with a score board, eight answer boards, 16 answer tokens, eight dry erase pens, 80 question cards (each with five questions), and the Select-O-Matic 5000 (which is a dial).  Each player takes a board, a pen, and two tokens, and you’re ready to play.

When it is your turn, draw the top question card.  Like so:

image by BGG user domcrap

Choose one of the five options.  Let’s say it’s my turn, so I ask the question, “In my opinion, what’s the best movie sequel of all time?”  Then the other five players pick up their pens and write an answer down on a card.  You can really say anything here, just don’t write down what someone has already taken.  Let’s say I’m playing with five other people, and they come back with the following answers:

  • Player A says Ghostbusters 2
  • Player B says The Godfather, part II
  • Player C says Back to the Future II
  • Player D says Toy Story 2
  • Player E says The Empire Strikes Back

Now my job is to choose which one of these is my favorite answer.  For the record, my actual answer is not among these, but that’s irrelevant at this point.  I take the Select-O-Matic 5000 and use the dial to indicate the color matching my favorite answer.  I then put the Select-O-Matic down, and all other players try to guess which is my favorite using their answer tokens.  Player A knows that Ghostbusters is my all-time favorite movie, and puts both answer tokens on that option.  Player B thinks The Godfather part II is better than the original, so he puts one token on that one, but hedges his bets a little and also puts one on The Empire Strikes Back.  Player C doesn’t really think I’d say Back to the Future, so she puts one on Toy Story 2 and one on The Empire Strikes Back.  Player D knows I’m a Pixar nut, but also knows I frequently cite Empire as the reason George Lucas should keep his direction out of Star Wars, so he splits his bet.  Player E decides that I’ll probably say The Godfather part II, wishes she had thought of it, and puts both of her tokens on that one.

Now I reveal the Select-O-Matic 5000, and everyone sees that I said…Toy Story 2!  A spirited debate follows, in which I patiently explain that of the given options, I think Toy Story 2 is the best.  It has a great story, really charming characters, and is good as, if not better than the original.  Ghostbusters 2 is a bad movie sorry Player A.  The Godfather part II is frequently cited as being better than the original, but I think it’s not even close – the Robert de Niro scenes save it for me, but the rest of it is kind of painful.  I have a higher opinion of BTTF 2 now than I did back in the day, but it’s still not as good as the original.  The Empire Strikes Back IS the best of the Star Wars Saga, but I just think Toy Story 2 is better overall, if perhaps not as iconic.  And, for the record, my choice would have been The Dark Knight as I think it’s the single best superhero movie ever made, and the performances by Heath Ledger AND Aaron Eckhart stand out as some of the best of their careers.

But I digress.  Scoring works like this – as the active player, I score one point per token on the answer I chose, up to a maximum of three.  Players C and D each put one token on Toy Story 2, so I get two points.  Then the player who wrote the correct answer gets one point – that would be Player D.  Then each token on the correct answer scores their owner one point.  So, at the end of this round, I have two points, Player D has two points, Player C has one point, and everyone else has zero.

The game continues for a maximum of 12 rounds, and ends when everyone has had an equal number of turns as the judge – 3 with 3-4 players, 2 with 5-6, and 1 with 7-8.  The player who has scored the most points is the winner.

COMPONENTS: This game has some pretty nice quality components.  The dry erase boards included are all good quality and don’t stain, which is very nice.  The dry erase markers unfortunately leave a lot to be desired, but it’s very easy to go to your local office supply store and gets some higher quality markers to replace them.  Also, you can get them in player colors.

The answer tokens are nice, each with a different illustration that represents the color, which helps tie things together for people who might be color blind.  The cards are well laid out and pretty good quality.  The Select-O-Matic 5000 is a nicely laid out dial and stays together pretty well.  The only thing you need that is not present in the box is some way to wipe off the boards, but you can easily do that with your finger or a tissue.

The components here are fairly minimal, which is OK for a party game, and highly functional, which is great.

THEME: No theme here, sorry.  It’s a party game, not hardcore Amerithrash.

MECHANICS: The only real mechanism in play here is a kind of betting system where you’re trying to pick the correct answers.  However, it’s betting without anything to lose, though you can go all in by putting both tokens on one answer.  Scoring is limited in the game so you can never score more than three points at a time.  This helps to keep the judge from running away with it on an easy question.

I do want to mention that we house rule that certain answers are not going to be legal in certain situations.  For example, when playing with church friends, I stipulate that religious answers should be left out.  If the question were “What’s the best book ever written?”, the Bible would be the quick and easy answer that would be the obvious choice.  I want people to think more, so we just always state the house rule.  I guess that goes against the title of the game, but it works for us.

STRATEGY LEVEL: It’s a party game, so there’s not really strategy.  Knowing your opponents helps, and you can try to play the metagame of guessing based on who you think MIGHT know the answer.  This is important to the experience.  The designers did put some work into leaving out the subjective aspects of games like Apples to Apples.  Rather than the judge being the last word, and possibly influenced by standing in the game rather than the answer, the judge has to pick and scoring happens based on how people think he picked.  It not only makes the game a cleaner experience, it also adds a new level of depth.

ACCESSIBILITY: This game is extremely easy to pick up.  As a party game, I think this is excellent as a bait style game – set it up, play a few raucous rounds, then move on to something with a little more depth to it as a gateway.  The age range is stated as 13 and up, but I think this game can be enjoyed by all ages.  Some of the questions can go in some risqué directions if you’re not careful (as in the fifth question on the example card), just know your audience.

REPLAYABILITY: There are 400 total questions on the 80 cards included in the box.  These cards will always be drawn by new people, so the replayability factor of this game is extremely high.  Plus, there’s nothing that prevents you from making up your own questions.

SCALABILITY: Say Anything plays with 3-8, but I wouldn’t play with less than 5.  3-4 makes it a little too easy to figure out the judge’s answer.  I think 6 is the sweet spot since you only get one turn as judge with 7-8, but it does play very well with larger numbers.  With extra boards and tokens, I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t play with more players and as many rounds as you want.  Just don’t let it go TOO long – as much as I like the game, I think it’s a perfect length the way it is, and am pretty sure it would outlive its welcome the longer it goes.

INTERACTION: Very high.  Lots of discussion about your choices will ensue with every question.  A good party game needs to be interactive, and this definitely is.

FOOTPRINT: This is a small game that doesn’t take up much space.  You don’t even really need a table for this, which makes it ideal for pulling out at a party.

LEGACY: I don’t like party games.  I think they last longer than they’re fun anymore, and that they usually aren’t games.  Say Anything succeeds at bucking both of those trends – it is balanced out to the perfect length, and succeeds in having a great scoring system to make it a very good game.  The easiest comparison to make is Apples to Apples, and Say Anything blows that game completely out of the water.  It’s not as subjective, and it’s not as limiting – you can say anything rather than be stuck with the cards you draw.

IS IT BUZZWORTHY? Yes.  This is my favorite party game, and one I think you should seek out and try.  On my Yeah-Meh-Bleah scale, this is one of the few party games that gets a solid


Thanks for reading!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.