Wednesday 20 August 2014

Review - Trivial Pursuit DVD: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy Edition

Trivial Pursuit DVD: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy Edition

Trivial Pursuit DVD: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy Edition
Published by Parker Brothers
Designed by committee

For 2-4 victims, who are old enough to watch The Lord of the Rings movies

Trivial Pursuit DVD: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy Edition box
Look at Gandalf... He has just been asked a tough question, I reckon.

I love board games. You should know that by now.

But not all board games.

I am a huge fan of thematic games that draw you into a story: Those games that allow you to explore a world with a gradually evolving character, facing insurmountable odds, and triumphing in the face of evil. Give me a fantasy setting, a sword to swing, and a dragon to slay, and I am one happy camper.

My fondness for fantastic adventures probably stems from my love of The Lord of the Rings (the books and the movies, I don't discriminate), although I find it interesting that many games based on the works of Tolkien are a bit shit... But that's another story.

While thematic games, storytelling games, and deeply strategic games fill me with joy, other types of games fill me with dread. For example, I have a strong dislike for word games, which I find terminally dull.

However, what I really hate, are trivia games.

I find trivia games pointless. They introduce pawns, and dice, and boards, and a set of rules, and... Why? If you want to play a trivia game, ask people a bunch of questions. The winner is the person who answers the most questions correctly. You don't need all those other things. You don't need to roll dice and move around a board.

You don't need Trivial bloody Pursuit.

Ah yes, Trivial Pursuit. One of the worst trivia games ever made. Now, that is not a statement I make lightly. It is a statement backed up by countless Christmases gathering around with the family to waste hours of the most magical day of the year doing something mundane.

The game is just poorly designed.

First of all, you have to answer questions often, but only rarely is there any reason to.

You see (for those of you who live under a rock), the aim of Trivial Pursuit is to move around the board collecting "cheeses" or "pies" or whatever you want to call them. There are six different flavours of "cheese," each representing a different type of trivia, and you get the "cheeses" by landing on certain spaces on the board and correctly answering a question from the related category. However, there is only one space on the board for collecting each type of cheese. If you land on any other space on the board, you still get asked a question, but there is no chance of winning a "cheese."


Why make a game where most of the time you are answering questions for no reason?

Astute readers may also have noted a second major problem: Roll and move. To win those "cheeses" you have to land on the correct spaces, and you have to land by exact count. Most of the game is spent wandering backwards and forwards, desperately attempting to land on one of the spaces you need.

So yes, this makes the game go on forever, especially if, when someone finally lands on the correct space, they get the bloody question wrong.

Finally, Trivial Pursuit has the same major flaw that all trivia games have: The person who knows the most has a massive advantage, and is likely to steamroll the opposition. This is compounded in Trivial Pursuit, as correctly answering a question allows a player to roll and move again. Play against someone really good, and you could be waiting a long time between turns. (In fact, it is possible for a really good player to win the game in a single turn.)

It is safe to say, I hate Trivial Pursuit.

And this leads us to our interesting experiment for the day... What happens when you combine something I love (The Lord of the Rings) with something I hate (Trivial Pursuit).

The obvious answer is: Trivial Pursuit DVD: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy Edition.

Trivial Pursuit DVD: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy Edition board
It's Trivial Pursuit. What did you expect?

The even more obvious answer is: a bloody horrible mess.

This version of the "classic" family board game plays much the same as any other edition, except all of the questions are based on the characters and events from Tolkien's world (as seen in the movies by Peter Jackson), and the playing pieces are really rather lovely pawns depicting Gandalf, Frodo, Aragorn, and Galadriel.

Trivial Pursuit DVD: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy Edition pawns
The pieces are nicer than this photograph makes them look.

But does basing the game around The Lord of the Rings make it better?

Well, no...

And yes...

But, mainly no.

It is better for me. I know a lot about the subject matter, so I tend to get my questions right more often. Plus, there are two DVDs in the game that have clips from the movie, so occasionally you get to watch some of that.

But there's a problem. It is the problem all trivia games have, only for the first time ever I get to view that problem from the other side of the fence: The person who knows the most is going to win. In this case, that person is me.

Trivial Pursuit DVD: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy Edition cards
Over 2,400 questions! Kill me, already!

And the problem is compounded because the whole game is based on a single specialist subject. Sure, The Lord of the Rings is popular... but not in my gaming group.

My wife has watched the movies a few times, one of my friends has seen the movies once, and one of my friends has read the books. If I was to play against all three of them combined, I would still win, because there are no general knowledge questions to level the playing field.

And so, this game doesn't get played in my house.


To be honest, even if I did know enough people who were into the subject matter, it still wouldn't get played.

After all, it's still Trivial Pursuit.

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