From Richard Garfield, creator of Magic: The Gathering, and Ken Jennings, Jeopardy‘s “Greatest of All Time” winners, comes the latest trivia card game, Half Truth! Garfield and Jennings created the game in partnership with Studio71 Games. One of the world’s most celebrated game box designers Ian O’Toole designed Half Truth.
Disclaimer: We received a physical copy of the game to write this review.
About Half Truth
Half Truth is a party game for all ages and people, where both the book smart and the street smart have an equal chance of winning. The game launched as a Kickstarter campaign last August 2019. Fans fully funded the game in an unprecedented three hours.
The Setup of Half Truth
The game comes with 500 trivia question cards and each card has a category. There are six possible answers per trivia question card, three are correct and three are wrong. Each player has to place bets on answers (up to three) they believe is correct. So if a player is only certain about two answers on a trivia question, he/she can just place two bets AKA put down two answer chips. You have the option to place three answer chips but you don’t have to. Each player rolls the die, and the die will indicate the number of spaces each player will move.
There are also two special rolls on the die:
- Half Lie – The tables are turned! Players get rewarded for finding the INCORRECT answers.
- Amped – Bonus Victory Points are DOUBLED. If players double up and all guesses to a question are correct, you advance one space and gain 2 bonus Victory Points.
About the Creators
- Richard Garfield teaches mathematics and is a game designer, most renowned for Magic: The Gathering. He also created Netrunner, BattleTech, and The Great Dalmuti (which I played and currently own!).
- Ken Jennings is best known for his record-breaking stint on Jeopardy! in 2004. He is also the best-selling author of Brainiac, which explores the phenomenon of trivia in American culture.
As someone who doesn’t play trivia games often, I did not have many expectations in place. I normally play card games such as Sushi Go and Unstable Unicorns or board games such as Munchkin. So when I received Half Truth in the mail, I was excited to try something new. Now, disclaimer: Since we’re stuck at home during COVID-19, my gameplay is limited to two people, myself and my partner. After having played this game, I can definitely recommend, without a doubt, that you should play this game with at least two other people (so three people minimum). The game accommodates two to six players, so it’s one of those cases where the more people who join in, the merrier (and more fun).
The Learning Curve
The learning curve to play Half Truth is pretty short. Once you start the game, it will not take long to get the hang of it. I’ve played board games and card games before where if taking it takes too long to learn how to play a game, it may completely turn me off. This was NOT the case with Half Truth. The premise is straightforward and the rules are easy to follow.
The Company and ‘Smarts’ You Have
I would say the level of enjoyment you get out of Half Truth also depends on your fellow players and their experiences. Trivia games can be a hit-or-miss. My partner knew much about sports, whereas I know very little about sports (hello! geek girl here, LOL). Neither of us had much music/band knowledge, so those questions were, for the most part, boring. We both had fun with the geography-related and the film-related trivia questions.
The Little Things
What makes Half Truth special, to me at least, is the special rolls on the die. Particularly the Half Lie special roll. When the rule changes for this roll and you need to intentionally select the answers you think is wrong, it makes you think.
I also really enjoyed the feel of the answer chips. I’ve never been to a casino (bucket list item) but those answer chips felt like they were made of excellent quality materials. Perhaps like dealer chips at a casino?
The trivia cards come already shuffled and the topic vary significantly each turn, so it’s nice that I do not have to constantly shuffle a deck of cards. Though, if you are someone who enjoys shuffling a deck of cards, then this may not be a pro for you.
As with most creations, flaws exist. In the box, there were five little boxes that contained the trivia cards. I did not realize the bottom of the little boxes were marked with the the level of difficulty for the trivia cards. I think it would have been beneficial to also label the trivia cards with the level of difficulty. It may seem redundant but as someone who is eager to play board and card games, I immediately open everything when I open the initial box. So for people like myself, it’s easy to lose track of which trivia cards belong to which little box. If the trivia cards with a level of difficulty were labeled “1,” then I would remember to put them back in the little box marked “1.”
Perhaps I received a box without this, but the Half Truth rule book said you can use a cover card to cover up the trivia cards deck so no one can cheat ahead. My partner and I looked for the cover card and did not find it. Not something the creators can control, so this might have been a manufacturer’s mistake.
Overall, Half Truth is a humbling trivia game. Its mantra is that anyone, brain smarts or street smarts, can play, but it did not feel that way to me. Granted, I know very little trivia so at times, I felt very dumb. BUT, Half Truth would be more fun, like I stated earlier, to play with more people. Given the time of the pandemic, perhaps Studio 71 Games could create a digital version of this game for groups of friends to play online.
The game is available starting Wednesday, May 6 at Studio71 Games, as well as major retailers such as Target, Walmart, and Amazon.
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Featured image credit: Graphic by ChinLin Pan/Geek Gals