In today’s review, Fairway does things a little different: reviews a party game, True Story, and thinks really, really, really hard about what it means for a game to be a game. True Story is an adult party and drinking game that is, at its core, Never Have I Ever with Dixit-style scoring and… drinks.
The game launched on Kickstarter, yesterday.
True Story is a party card game consisting of a standard deck of playing cards with a single word in the middle. It is targeted for two to eight players, but the upper limit mostly seems arbitrary. To play, the cards are shuffled and the first player draws the top card. Using the word on the card, the player then tells a story. The other players then attempt to guess whether the player is telling the truth or lying.
If all the players guess correctly, the storyteller drinks twice. If no one guesses correctly, the guessers drink. If less than all the players guess correctly, the storyteller takes the card. The first player to three cards wins.
I had reservations about reviewing this game in the first place. After all, I’m not sure that you need someone like me to tell you whether you’re going to like the game. It is what it is. There’s no strategy. There’s no issue of balance to explore. There’s nothing to “try out,” and there’s no difficulty in comprehending the game or how it’ll work out.
There are cards with words like “porn” and “nudity” and “drugs.” These act merely as prompts for a well-known party game. Telling untrue (maybe even true) stories about those can be funny. And if this is your group’s sort of thing, it’s definitely worth checking out. It might even be worth looking at for just a standard set of playing cards with sometimes funny words on them.
Did it have to be like this?
My problem with True Story is that while it constitutes a “game,” and it could be fun, it’s contribution to the basic Never Have I Ever or Two Truths & a Lie premise is nominal. I mean, at some level, you could construct a similar game by playing Russian Roulette with entries out of Urban Dictionary–the upside of that version is that you might “learn” a thing or two.
I don’t think it had to be like that. I actually think there might be a way to turn the components into a more creative game.
Among other things, why not use more than one card at a time? Make it more Two Truths and a Lie based on the prompts of three cards. Or, have other players play cards that the story teller has to integrate into that mechanic.
Indeed, the cards might better suited for a trick-taking game. Someone leads with a card. Other players have to follow suit. The winner of the trick is the player with the highest on-suit card. However, to score the trick, the player has to formulate a story using all of the words from on-suit cards into a story. The only requirement: the player has to use one of the cards in a truthful manner.
You might also simply use the cards to play a version of Rummy in which you can only play cards down if you can create a single sentence that uses all the words.
Or you could use the story telling mechanism that Yukon Salon deployed so well: forcing players to convince others through a series of claims prompted by the cards.
Any of these things would have been more entertaining. As it is, the game was frustrating for its lack of thoughtful contribution to game making.
In the hole
True Story is exactly what it’s described to be: prompted adult, drinking game. Old-timey card design and sometimes “scandalous” or “obscene” words are definitely the hallmarks of this game. Perhaps its biggest selling point is that the cards aren’t limited by the designer’s lack of creativity. The design elements leave room for creative-types to make their own fun too. I don’t do this often, but I’m going to leave this one un-scored as, you, dear readers, will know whether this is up your alley or whether you can convert the components into a game you’d play.