Sunday 29 May 2016

Review - Family Fortunes

Published by Britannia Games
Designed by Britannia Games Limited
For 2 players or 2 teams, aged 8 to adult

Family Fortunes

Television was a big part of my life growing up.

I think, part of the reason is because my parents both worked incredibly hard. They bust a gut to make sure they could provide for their family, and when they finally got to have a moment of downtime, they invariably flaked in front of the television. British soap operas, like Eastenders, were a staple in our house; but really anything was fair game.

When I think back to my childhood, I don't tend to remember a lot of specific things; but I do remember particular feelings and emotions quite vividly, and a lot of those feelings are indelibly linked to television.

The jaunty intro to The Antiques Roadshow, even now, fills me with a deep sense of misery; because back in the day, that was the shot across the bow. It was the reminder that all I had to look forward to was half and hour of the dullest television ever created, followed by the mournful opening credits of Last of the Summer Wines, which ultimately meant bedtime, followed by Monday bastard morning, and another week of school predominantly comprising being bullied, feeling like I wasn't particularly good at anything, and being told to stop daydreaming.

I think that's why I don't really watch television anymore.

Don't get me wrong, I will binge-watch Daredevil or Game of Thrones with the best of them; but I never switch on the television just to watch any old crap that's on. And that's why I've never seen the newest incarnation of Family Fortunes (which American readers will know as Family Feud, I believe). Apparently the show is presented by Bolton's finest, Vernon Kaye, which has to be the best advertisement ever devised for switching off the television and going for a long walk.

But anyway...

While I may not be up-to-date with my Family Fortunes viewing, I still remember those Saturday nights from my childhood.

I still remember the "uh-uh" when a family member made a bad choice.

I still remember Les Dennis saying, "If the answer's there, I'll give you the money myself."

So, when I spotted the board game version of Family Fortunes in a charity shop, it was too good an opportunity to pass up.

Family Fortunes game box

The game is actually a pretty accurate recreation of the television show - or at least, as accurate as a board game is ever going to get - and anyone familiar with the show is going to be right at home (or breaking out in a cold sweat; delete as applicable).

One player is nominated the question master, while everyone else forms two teams. The game then proceeds in a series of two rounds.

First, the question master picks a question card and reads it out to the other players. You know the sort of questions: "Name something you could pass around the dinner table," or "Name a type of accommodation." The teams compete to give an answer that is in the top five responses, and the team with the best answer wins control. That team then continues to give answers, scoring points based on how good those answers are, and getting bonus points for getting all of the answers on the card. If at any point they give three incorrect answers, control passes to the other team and they get a chance to win five points by giving a single correct answer.

Family Fortunes question cards

This process continues until one team has 25 points.

In the second stage, the teams go head to head. Each team chooses up to two players to write down answers to a series of five questions. The answers are then scored based on the points printed on the question sheet.

Finally, each team adds the scores from the two rounds, and the highest total wins.

Rules for a two-player version of the game are included. They are very similar to the rules for playing with teams.

Only boring.

Family Fortunes rules

When it comes down to it, this is just another trivia game, and anyone who knows me knows that I am not a big fan of trivia games.

Now, Family Fortunes sidesteps one of the major issues with most trivia games (the person who knows the most always wins), by asking the kinds of questions that everyone has a chance of getting right. There is a distinct difference between "Name all the capital cities in Europe" and "Name something you do while driving," and that levels the playing field to make the game more accessible for... you know... families.

Furthermore, this game includes a little sound box that you press to make the "uh-uh" sound when someone gets an answer wrong. And that's all kinds of fun.

For about a minute.

Family Fortunes sound box

For me, it was nice to revisit the Saturday evenings of my childhood for a little while.

It was nice to play a game that brought back memories of curling up under my dad's arm with a warm drink, competing with him to pick the best answer for "Something associated with Marilyn Monroe," and just enjoying the desperately scarce time he spent at home with his feet up.

But I still don't like trivia games. And this one is no exception.


Family Fortunes game components

Maybe... I don't know... Maybe I'll keep hold of this one for now.

Maybe I'll give my dad a call; see if he wants to come over for a game.

You can find various versions of the Family Fortunes game on Amazon. I bet they're a regular find in charity stores too.

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