You’ve probably played some long, drawn out trivia games where everyone knows the trivia buff is going to win. I’m here to tell you that Wits and Wagers is the exact opposite of that. It’s not that I dislike trivia – as you will see when I review Wits and Wagers – it’s that I dislike trivia for trivia’s sake. Wits and Wagers bills itself as the trivia game for everyone and it succeeds.
In order to win in inferior Trivial Pursuit, you not only must get a question in each category correct, but your pawn must be on the one correct space on the board that earns you a tiny plastic pie piece. Games end in a near stalemate in which players try to hop back and forth on spaces near their worst category until finally the planets align and they get an easy question while in the right place. Wits and Wagers, on the other hand, is a trivia game where you don’t have to know trivia to win.
It can help, yes, but the questions are deliberately designed so that no one at the table likely knows the exact answer. Questions are often based around statistics: How many cups of coffee does the average American drink in a year? How much did a three-day Woodstock ticket cost at the gate on the first day? What was the lowest temperature every recorded in Hawaii in degrees Fahrenheit? How many Americans were injured in bathtubs or showers in 2001?
For some questions, your knowledge may help you. You may be able to guess when the first American newspaper was established if you know old a paper like the New York Times is. On other questions, no one could every be expected to know. This aspect may frustrate some, but for me, it is what makes the game fun for the whole group rather than just a few people. Even a quiz master like Ken Jennings might not win a game of Wits and Wagers. Players do score extra points if their answer was closest, but a player could go the whole game without getting a question right and still win due to how scoring works.
Let’s do a sample question together so that you can see the mechanics. We’ll use the following question as an example: Over the 5-year period from 1999 to 2003, what percent of the U.S. recording industry’s dollar sales were to consumers under 30 years old?
Let’s say people guessed as follows:
Laura and Adama: 50%
Feel free to guess along; I’ll put the answer at the end of the post. Players write their name and their guess on a mini white board and simultaneously reveal them. Answers are put on the board in order. Then players may bet (with chips, not real money of course) on which answer they think is closest without going over (sort of making this like a board game that is like The Price is Right). Players have a lot to consider when betting.
+Cards that are farther away from the center pay out more; This is easy to see in an image, but if if Kat’s answer is right, it pays out 4 to 1.
+Boomer might not be worth betting even if you think she has a good chance of being right: a bet on Boomer’s answer is betting that the answer will be in the narrow range between 72% and 77.14%.
+Two people put down 50%. Do they know something about the question that you don’t, or did they just pick it because it was a nice round number?
Players can split their bets between two answers, and, once the answer is revealed, the person whose answer was closest receives bonus chips. Everyone that guessed the correct answer receives a payout according to the space the answer was on. The game has been a hit each time I’ve played it, though the game may not be pure enough for hardcore trivia buffs who want to show off
Wits and Wagers Answer: In the example, the correct answer was 43.64 percent, so players that bet on Tom’s answer would receive four times their original bet and play would continue on to the next round. Kat apparently didn’t think that people over the age of 30 enjoy music.