I bought Geek Battle to play at my friend’s birthday party. The guests were basically all unabashedly nerdy folk, and I had only read good reviews about the game. It was on sale on Amazon.com, so I snatched it up and waited eagerly to bust it out at the party.
Which is actually an accurate way of saying it. Because the game was a bust.
A serious bust. I’m sure at least 70% of the players were pissed that we ever started playing it, everyone was raging about one question or another by the time we were done, and the number of bitter nerds in that room was a larger proportion than the number of bitter nerds on the internet. The only thing that saved the night was abandoning the game and drinking lots of alcohol.
I had read that the rules to move the game pieces (roll a D6 to move, read a question matching the space color and then, if you get the question right, roll a D12 to move again) were often unfair and made answering questions correctly not all that important. Since I thought that this ruined the purpose of the game, you answered a question to move off start (your choice of category) and then rolled if you answered right. Then, for your next turn, you would answer the question corresponding to the space that you landed on in the previous turn.
The questions to move were awful. We actually had more fun being outraged at the questions than answering them. Nearly 60% of the questions were way too easy (offensively simple), 10% were strangely difficult (and not in a good, challenging way), and the rest were alright. Many of the “way too easy” questions unnecessarily provided multiple choice answers–with obnoxiously incorrect options. Of course, that left 30%–with most of the questions in this group falling into the “Geek Battle” category.
During a Geek Battle, two players (from two different teams, if you’re playing with teams) go head-to-head and answer questions. For example, one Geek Battle asked the players to list all movies and TV shows inspired the the original Star Trek series. The geek battles were by far the best part of the game (though there were some weird questions in there–one asked the players to name all the members of the Big 10 sports conference. Not very geeky.)
The game pieces are these strange, generic superhero pieces. They’re a little unsettling, cliche and–more importantly–too large for the spaces. We used different polyhedral dice as game pieces, instead (Go team D4!).
We didn’t end up finishing the game. In fact, what we did do was rage quit it, then go through all the cards so you can see some of the questions that were most offensive to poor little geeky hearts.
- Which of the following superheroes never joined the Avengers?
- Regular milk chocolate M&Ms have come in six colors since 1995. Name four. (There are at least four questions on M&Ms in this game. Why??)
- What food did the 1980s cartoon series declare was the favorite of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?
- Protein Bars
- What fictional metal bonded to Wolverine’s skeleton makes his bones nearly unbreakable?
- Apple CEO Steve Jobs was known for wearing what color turtleneck?
- What kind of animal is Sega’s video game hero Sonic?
- In Avatar, the Omaticaya Clan of Na’vi that Jake Sully joins make their home in a giant what?
- Which character alignment is not possible in Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 3.5? (It seems like a good question until you get to the multiple choice answers).
- Lawful evil
- Chaotic neutral
- Awfully evil (REALLY?!?!)
- Neutral good
Obviously, from the review above, I do not recommend this game to anyone who is actually a geek–or, really, to the general population. I would give it a 3/10, mostly due to the “Geek Battle” category. If they published a companion game that was just Geek Battles, I would probably buy it and play it. Currently, though, I have two thoughts for the game’s future: 1) give it to Goodwill, or 2) re-write most of the questions.
Do you have better questions than those listed above? (God, I hope so). If so, leave them in the comments and I’ll incorporate it into my own new edition of Geek Battle!