Wits & Wagers

So…you have about 20 people over and it’s kind of boring, no one’s really talking about anything interesting and people aren’t too familiar with one another. What do you do? You break out Wits & Wagers (North Star Games, 2005), that’s what!

Billed (accurately) as “The trivia game for people who don’t know stuff,” Wits & Wagers is a trivia game in the sense that you have to answer questions – but rewards don’t come from knowing the answers, they come from placing bets on the players who do know the right answers.

Now in its second edition, the game includes a 28-inch-long felt betting mat, poker chips, trivia cards, player betting markers (2 each in 7 different colors),7 dry-erase pens and mini-boards, and a sand timer. Up to 21 people can play, forming as many as seven teams (individuals may play alone as well).

The goal of the game is to finish with the most points after seven rounds. On each round, a “question reader” reads the appropriate question on the card – the first question for the first round, and so on – and each player or team comes up with their best guess at the answer. The questions always have a numerical answer, typically one that very few people will know outright (see below). Teams have 30 seconds to record their answers, after which the answers are revealed and placed in order of magnitude (lowest to highest) on the large betting mat.

Players then have 30 seconds to place up to two bets on any of the answers, hoping to win one of 4 payoffs (2:1, 3:1, 4:1, or 5:1). Players may also bid on an eighth space, for a 6:1 payoff, labelled: β€œThe correct answer is smaller than all given answers.” Players then identify their bids by placing their colored betting markers on their bets, and then the answer is revealed. The answer that comes closest to correct without going over is considered correct, and all players who bet on this answer receive the corresponding payoff. The player whose answer was chosen also gets 10 bonus points. If all answers went over, there is no bonus given, and only players who bet all answers were too high wins a payoff.

When I first played Wits & Wagers, we had a group of over 20 people (at a board-gaming event), and more were attracted by the laughing and fun. Since then it has not failed to please.

I recommend Wits & Wagers for any family or group that is likely to get larger than, say, 8 people. The more the merrier with this game, but it is still plenty of fun for 6 or more. It is intellectually stimulating, but, as advertised, one need not know anything about trivia to enjoy or even win the game. It is sufficient to know the right people to bet on from turn to turn.

Buy Wits And Wagers at Amazon!

10 thoughts on “Wits & Wagers”

  1. hmm this game sounds interesting …
    … when you say “about 20 people” do you mean 7 teams is the designed max, but you’d not recommend more than 3 people per team, or are there specific rules about team sizes?

    1. This is really a fun game for any number over, say, 6. I said up to 20 because that’s the most I can imagine being able to actually see the table more or less at once. You could still participate by suggesting answers and debating them, but one really needs to be close enough to see the table, the answer choices, and the bets as they fall.

      1. Ahh right, I thought there might have been something formal about the number 20, because that’s what BGG says too.

        Since you have only 30 seconds to debate answers and bets, I think that puts a limit on team size as well. I’ve been on enough committees to know that more people = slower!!

        Soo … not so fun with 3-5 players as individuals?

  2. Yep!

    I didn’t know BGG (That’s Boardgamegeek.com, to those of you watching at home!) listed 20. That’s interesting.

    You’re right about the conferencing, of course, but 3 people can usually come up with something quickly enough – normally one won’t even have an opinion.

    I won’t say it’s not so fun with fewer people because I haven’t tried it, and it does so well when there are a lot of people who want to play that I kind of reserve it for large groups. BUT, I can imagine it being fun for a smaller group, too, playing as individuals. Just not as rowdy.

  3. Oh dear … was thinking of buying the game today … I’m sure I’ve seen it in my local Mind Games branch….

    I decided to read some other reviews of the game and have found that the game is very America-centric – many (seems most) of the questions are about America and being a numbers game, there are many questions using America’s quaint “imperial” (not English) units of measurement like feet, yards, furlongs, ounces which don’t mean much to those of us in the rest of the world.

    Shame … I was getting all excited … 😦

    Apparently there’s an official international version of this game called “Gambit 7”, but my nearest stores don’t seem to stock it.

    1. Uh-oh…shame on me. I never even considered whether this would be culturally too narrow for people. I’m looking through the cards right now, so let’s see what some randomly drawn cards ask:

      – 1st card: India’s house of Parliament, US federal government, world’s population, Old Navy retail stores, quadruplets in US, 1985 Live Aid concert for Africa, and the year that coeds were 1st allowed in a US college.
      – 2nd card: Death Valley (US), WWII in Europe, Picasso, tornado wind speed, Winter Olympics in US, Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame (US), Baseball (US).
      – 3rd card: Death penalty (world), US Vice Presidents, Smithsonian Institute (US), planets, Empire State Building (US), video games, Tour de France

      These are pretty representative of most cards in the deck, and I’ve looked at close to a dozen more. Some are worse in the sense that they ask questions about things that are predominantly American. However, many that are about something American are about landmarks that tend to be international already, such as Death Valley (I have met more German tourists there…), the Smithsonian Institute, and the Empire State Building. Others are at the national level, and have a decent chance of being known anyway.

      But the truly important part is whether being American confers an advantage – and the answer is usually no. Maybe on the baseball question, or one about Tom Cruise, perhaps, but they are not so common. Since the point of the game is that people aren’t supposed to know the answer, at least not exactly, then everyone has a decent shot at a close guess. And the betting is where the fun is. I am certain that most Americans don’t have a clue about most of the questions on these cards – believe me, I am among them every day.

      One example: What percentage of US households own at least one pet cat? Answer? I have no clue. 50? It might as well say Australia, because I really have no clue about that, either. So if it’s all Aussies playing, then every one is equally clueless – just as if it were all Yanks.

      Regarding the Imperial weights and measures, that is an oversight on the part of North Star Games. The conversion should be included. And we ought to go metric…but it’s not like we invented this system, either! : )

  4. Struth cobber! Here in dinky-di aussie-land we don’t have no cats, they got eaten by the crocs and the bunyips. That’s why we keep ‘roos as pets – they can hop away fast enough, and if some of the deadly wildlife turns on you, you can ride your roo to safety! Only thing you have to watch out for are the hoop snakes …. nasty buggers them.

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