Tag Archives: Buffalo Games


For a while, when Facebook was really becoming more well-known, it offered a series of very popular quizzes, such as “What animal are you?”, or “What 80’s band are you?” In these quizzes you would answer a series of questions and then be given an answer that supposedly had something to do with your core identity (Oh please let them say I’m a bear and not a shrew!).

Imaginiff (Buffalo Games, 1998) is the same game, but it was around first and it allows players to lay those assessments on each other instead of wading through a questionnaire. The beauty of Imaginiff, which it shares with certain other great games (Scattergories, Balderdash), is that it has taken a game that people have played for years, given it a definite form and definite rules, and put it in a box for everyone to enjoy.

The key component of the game is the deck of cards that provide a list of six items within a particular category:

The basic mechanism involves players identifying the item on each list that applies to other players. To demonstrate, consider a friend, and answer the question: “If your friend were a cable channel, which one would s/he be?” The options are: Comedy Central, The Playboy Channel, CNN, The Discovery Channel, ESPN, or The Sci-Fi Channel. It’s fun enough to try to place our friends and family members in these categories, but it’s even more fun to talk about our choices, or consider out loud why one is better than the other.

Being able to involve people who aren’t there is one feature that makes this game more interesting, because if there are only 3 or 4 present for a game it provides a satisfyingly easy excuse to talk about other people. And that’s something that already comes naturally to just about everybody.

Points are awarded based on matching answers; each round, one person is chosen, a card is read (in reference to that person), and other players choose the best match. Those players who have the most matching answers are awarded points, and move on the board. The fun, of course, is in considering the answers and then defending them. In my experience it is just as fun to grab the cards and read them aloud, then enjoy the debate. But since the board gives structure and an endpoint to the game, it is still useful.

I consider Imaginiff one of my top 10 family games, because it offers such a playful way to interact with people we know well. It has a nice blend of tension and release, it is (mostly) playable by younger people (as long as you ignore the more difficult categories), and it is conducive to inter-generational play – but it’s also good to get parties started. With the exception of the hardcore strategy gamers, I can’t think of too many game shelves where this game would be out of place.

Buy iMAgiNiff at Amazon!


faces box

Faces (Buffalo Games, 2005) is just plain fun. Maybe not raucous, side splitting, talk about it for days fun, but it would be hard to make it through a game like this without quite a bit of laughter and conversation. And it would not be a surprise at all if you ended up talking about it for days, or finding yourself labeling the faces you might meet.

There are two main components in Faces: the 194 “faces cards” themselves, which are various single faces of humans or animals with exaggerated features or unique expressions, and the 176 “impressions cards,” which detail a conclusion one might reach after seeing a particular face (i.e., an “impression”). Among the impression cards are such items as “The big eater”, “The neat freak”, “The one with too many cats”, and “The one who’s all talk and no action.” Shown below is a hand featuring the impression “The one holding a grudge.”

faces layout

There are two ways these cards are played, along with a “line-up card” with six slots for six different face cards, eight pawns for eight players along with color-matched voting cards numbered 1-6 for each player, and a scoring track. The two rounds are the “Line-up Round,” and the “Card-in-Hand Round.”

In the Line-up Round, six faces are laid out face-up on the line-up card. Four turns are done with male faces, four with female faces, and four with animal faces. A player, on his or her turn, flips over the top impression card, and players try to decide what face they think will be chosen to match the impression by the player whose turn it is. The turn-taker gets points if they are matched, and a player who matches the turn-taker gets points too.

In the Card-in-Hand Round, each player gets two male, two female, and three animal faces, and players take turns being the judge. The judge turns over an impressions card and reads it, and the other players choose what they think is the best card in their hand for that impression. The judge then chooses the best match, and the submitting player get points. Each player gets to be judge just once. An example of the Card-in-Hand round is below:

faces player choice

Points are tallied on the circular faces board, and the first to the finish is the winner.

faces scoretrack

This is a great game for a random get together – extended family, friends from work, whatever. Everyone can easily relate to making certain assumptions about what other people are based on what they look like, and everybody is in on the joke so there is no one left out.

I recommend this for any person who is part of a family or a network of friends and acquaintances who get together with any frequency. It’s better than a typical card game, but nowhere near a hard core strategy game. It will bring out the best of the extroverts and class clowns in the group, but still allow the quiet ones to participate and enjoy themselves!

Buy Faces on Amazon!