ATTENTION HOMESCHOOLERS! We hereby announce that Say Whaaat?! has been given Homeschooling Teen‘s “Best in Class” Award! Keep reading to find out why…
A few weeks ago, I received an e-mail from Mike Petty, a high school math teacher and game designer. He asked if I would be interested in a review copy of a party game that he made, called Say Whaaat?!
I said sure! I thought it would be a nice change of pace to review a game other than a computer game like we usually do.
The package arrived in just a few days, nicely wrapped and hand-addressed by Mike’s wife. The game itself comes in a heavy-duty five-inch square box.
Here are all the details about the game, along with some background information, followed by my honest review.
- 1 Fold-up Game Board
- 108 Double-sided Cards (216 words)
- 2 Empty Cards (add your own words)
- 10 Colored Meeples (cute little wooden figures)
- 50 Scoring Cards (5 in each player’s color)
- Rulebook with QR Code (for watching a video on how to play)
- Category: Board Games
- Genre: Card Game/Humorous
- Type: Boxed Game
- Designer: Mike Petty
- Artist: Nikos Rovakis
- Publisher: Drawlab Games
- Publish Year: 2019
- Dimensions: 5x5x2″
- Age Range: 14+
- Players: 3 – 10
- Game Length: 30+ minutes
“It’s a mission of mine to have people play games that offer more than just fun,” says Mr. Petty. “In this case it is a sometimes hilarious game that gets people talking about what matters most to them. It’s great as an icebreaker, discussion starter or just an entertaining game for friends and families.” He reflects on some highlights in the game’s history here.
Mr. Petty actually used a previous version of his Say Whaaat?! game in educational settings, including a career/life skills class that he taught. “It made for a fun class activity for lessons about priorities and values,” he said. “When I stopped teaching in the classroom, I created several digital versions of the game for teachers to use in class like I did.” You can find a newer version of those activities here.
Say Whaaat?! is a combination card game / board game / guessing game in which one of the players becomes the judge and has to secretly define the “ranking of importance” between five seemingly unrelated items, concepts, or activities. Serious players can use reasoning and logic to try and figure out the judge’s rankings. It’s a good way to practice your critical thinking skills without having to worry about being put on the spot, as there are no right or wrong answers.
You might have heard that saying about people’s opinions. Well, it is true, at least partially. People hold all sorts of opinions about things they deem important. But they don’t necessarily agree on the importance of things.
Say Whaaat?!, then, can be said that is wholly dedicated to exploring our individual points of view on various subjects, while playing and having fun with friends and family.
In Say Whaaat?!, we are going to be asked about a number of various things, ideas and concepts and one of us each round is going to secretly rank these in order of importance. Then the rest of the players are going to try and guess our ranking.
The rules on how to play Say Whaaat?! may seem a little complicated at first, but the video really helps, especially for those who don’t like reading instructions. Once you get the hang of it, this game will be easy to play – although guessing the rankings can be tricky, and therein lies the challenge. Conversations will surely arise regarding why the Judge ranked the cards in a certain way, and why the Guessers thought he or she would rank them differently.
I like the whimsical way they say to start the game: “The player who most recently shared a funny story is the starting player and becomes the judge of the first round.” But what if nobody told a funny story? Ha! Well, you know there’s a joker in every class (and household). Anyway, the Judge picks five cards and ranks them in order of importance. These rankings are completely based on the Judge’s own personal opinion, though it should be done honestly. The cards are chosen randomly, unless you play using one of the alternate suggestions below.
There are word cards for physical objects (i.e. Cars, Houses, Paper, Apples, Furniture) and abstract ideas (i.e. Morals, Truth, Hope, Charity, Integrity), as well as various subjects (History, Mathematics, Music, Art, Psychology) and occupations (Garbage Collectors, Firefighters, Athletes, Teachers, Lawyers, Dentists, Scientists, Farmers).
Some cards such as Indoor Plumbing, Underwear, and Toilet Paper will surely lead to funny remarks! Caution: there are a few potentially controversial cards, too – like Guns, Police Officers, Religious Freedom, and Welfare System. You could remove them, if you want to avoid arguments, depending on the politics of the people you’re playing with.
The game board is used as a scoring board, with each player moving their Meeple one space per point received during the round. But if you’re playing in a large group or school setting, you could keep score on a whiteboard instead.
Say Whaaat?! is recommended for 3-10 players, and the more players you have will not only increase the fun of the game, but also the replaybility of it.
The most common way to enjoy Say Whaaat?! is in Single Player Mode. In this mode, every player gets to be the Judge once and rank the concepts while the rest of the players, the Guessers, try to guess their ranking. The Judge will choose five cards and secretly rank the items and/or ideas in order of importance. All the other players then try to put the cards in the right order, scoring points for each correct guess; the player with the most correct guesses in a round is awarded an extra point. When all players have been the judge once, the game is over. (If you don’t have three people, you can play this game one-on-one with just two people switching back and forth between being the Judge and the Guesser; whoever makes it all the way around the board first wins.)
In Partners Mode, only playable with an even number of players, the players are grouped in pairs of two (with one person in each pair acting as Judge and the other as Guesser). All the Judges simultaneously rank their cards and all of the Guessers try to rank their Judge’s preferences. Change roles in each round, so the previous Judge becomes the new Guesser. The pair with the most correct guesses after, say, five rounds wins. This mode would work great as a dating game; i.e. how well do you know your partner? The couple with the most points at the end could win a prize.
If you’re playing with a lot of people, you can form teams and play the game in Team Mode. In each round, one player on every team is the team’s Judge and the other players are the Guessers. Each correct guess gives the whole team another point. After six rounds, the team with the most points wins the game.
There is also a GroupThink Mode, as shown here:
Other Ways to Play
Say Whaaat?! has unlimited playability because it can be played in so many different ways.
Normally, the judge will pick cards randomly (he might end up with words like Coffee, Justice, Art, Chocolate, Sleep). Or for an even greater challenge, he can specifically look for cards with similar themes (i.e. Technology, The Internet, WiFi, 3D Printers, Electricity), making it harder to decide which one should rank first. The Judge can also use his best judgment and tailor the card choices to the ages and interests of the players. (For kids you could pick easy words like Socks, Bikes, Comics, Trees, Soap.)
The number of rounds is also variable. You can plan to play a certain number of rounds, or enough rounds so that each player has a chance to be the Judge at least once. In most cases, the player with the most points at the end is the winner of the game, or it could be the person who makes it all the way around the game board first. If there’s a tie, you can declare that whoever got the most points in a single scoring round is the winner. Or you could play another round to break the tie. Or you can just let the players share the victory!
You could have one person be the Judge for the whole game, which we tried doing. Dad was the Judge, with Mom and three teens/young adults as the Guessers. But we found out by playing it that way, you run the risk of having the rare player who thinks so logically and knows a person so well, they get all the cards in the right order every single time (and no, it wasn’t even Mom!). That’s why it’s best to switch off on the Judges, unless you want to discover who is the mind reader in your family!
For homeschoolers and other students, these cards would make good writing prompts. Have kids pull a card out of a hat and write about whatever topic they get!
The teacher can pre-select pairs of cards to be used in a compare/contrast exercise, either written or verbal (i.e. Fire/Water, Cookies/Cakes, Bikes/Motorcycles, Board Games/Video Games, Telephones/Mobile Phones, etc.).
For a fun art class activity, have kids pick a card and draw a picture of the word. Divide the cards into simple objects for younger students, but challenge advanced students to illustrate the abstract concepts and see what they come up with!
Start the day with a discussion prompt that you pull out of a hat. The abstract cards work well for this (i.e Self-Reflection, Persistence, Tradition, Responsibility, Kindness).
Pick five random cards and brainstorm what they have in common or how they might go together. This can result in some crazy combinations. For example, say you end up with these five words: Family, Spoons, Pianos, Goals, Peace. What could they all possibly have to do with each other? Well, a Family could set Goals for playing Peace(ful) music on Pianos and Spoons!
Tired of playing with words? Don’t feel like thinking too hard today? Roll some dice (not included) and race the Meeples around the game board. It’s like having two games in one!
You can probably think of other uses too. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination!
Say Whaaat?! was awarded the Dice Tower Seal of Approval. And guess what! It’s also the first game to win our “Best in Class” Award at Homeschooling Teen! This decision was based on a list of fifteen qualities for which the product meets most of our criteria for recommended educational materials. Namely, that it’s reasonably priced and well-crafted, visually appealing, unique, engaging, worthwhile, easy to use with minimal preparation, multipurpose, both timely and timeless, crosses age barriers, nourishes the intellect, offers new insights and develops critical thinking skills.
Even though Say Whaaat?! is billed as a fun party game, it’s so much more than that. It can be used for educational purposes. It’s also a great way to spend some nice quality time with friends or family. The first time my family played this game, we had lo-fi hip hop radio playing in the background which made for a relaxing, enjoyable afternoon.
The box says that this game can be played in 30 minutes, but for us it took at least an hour. I think it all depends on how many people you have and how long you spend talking about the rankings, the meanings of certain words, and the relationships among various things. For instance, we got into debates about what’s the difference between Wisdom and Intelligence… Fashion and Style… Money and Wealth. Needless to say, this sort of thinking activity is so much better than a mindless trivia game!
Additionally, unlike video games, board games promote more meaningful face-to-face interaction. While playing this game we had a lot of laughs, shared some memorable moments, opened up on why we think the way we do, and bonded over thoughtful discussions about priorities. Switching between modes and ways to play will ensure countless hours of fun and longevity of the game at your table. The game board and cards are sturdy and will last a long time.
We definitely recommend Say Whaaat?! for playing at home with the family, with friends at parties, with church youth groups, in educational settings, and on other social occasions as an icebreaker or conversation starter. And finally, I love the acknowledgement where Mike Petty gives thanks to God, “who doesn’t provide a ranked list, but who gives hope that some things really do matter.”
Say Whaaat?! is available to buy on Amazon: