Lessons from Board Games – Wits and Wagers and Knowing who Knows who Knows how to Win

Wits and Wagers is a best-selling party game where everyone answers and people vote on which answer they believe is correct, getting points if they’re right. It solves the problem of one person being completely “unfun” to play the trivia game with because he knows everything, and for that Wits and Wagers is one of the best party games to come out in a long time. And the company (North Star Games) continues to put out great games, of both party and not so party varieties.


On its surface, Wits and Wagers is a pretty simple concept. You don’t have to know the answer; you just have to know who does. And that’s how I play, but I rarely know the answer, or know who knows the answer. That really just comes down to me being bad at the trivia portion of the game. It’s all numbers-based, and while I can remember lots of useless facts related to words, exact numbers are a bit harder.

But one of my friends beats me pretty consistently. Well, until the end when we all just wager all of our points because no one ‘really’ cares about winning. Then I can win by just being conservative on the final question. His points dwarf mine often, though. I know he doesn’t know any more answers than I do, but what he does have is a consistent betting pattern (not every time, but a bit of the time). I’ll let you try and figure out what he’s doing, but as long as the answers are reasonable he’s able to win more often than not. And by copying his bets I could equal almost his score (he tends to bet more than I do, too).

So, for me, the game about knowing who knows the right answer became, for some part, the game about knowing who knows how to win the game based on averages. And I’m okay with that. It’s the answers that are funny; it is a party game, after all. And while it might sound like it’s taking things a bit too seriously, I can assure you, from the context of the game, that it is not. No amount of enjoyment was lost from, nor any significant thinking time put into, the game. It was fun, and playing the game a bit differently was… well, different. I would still play again anytime.


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