Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Great Whosit? Competition

I wonder if anyone else has ever played the deduction game Whosit?. Hubby's family are big fans of this board/card game, and they introduced it to me a few years ago. Based on the artwork and fonts, I'd guess their copy of the game dates from the mid-1970s.

Image evilly stolen from Darwin's Game Closet
If you enjoy games such as Clue or Mastermind, you'd probably enjoy Whosit?, since it works on the same basic principles. Each player picks a secret card that determines the person's identity (Rock Star, Dancer, Judge, Waiter, Singer, Detective, etc.), and the object of the game is to guess correctly the identity of all the other players. This is done by playing question cards, which allow each player to ask any one of the other players basic questions about their identity (sex, race, adult or child, certain articles of clothing or jewelry, whether the person smokes, and the color of the room he or she is in). You are required to tell the truth when someone asks you a question unless you happen to have drawn one of four wild-card identities: the Gangster, the Censor, the Director or the Spy. The Gangster and the Spy never tell the truth, the Director may attempt to convince others he is some other identity, and the Censor always answers "no" to any question. The other twist is that you may only ask the questions that appear on your question cards -- so if you really want to determine whether some other character is in a red room and your cards don't include that question, you can't ask.

It's pretty fun, although it can be hard to keep track of all the clues if there are more than four players in a game. (A notepad would be a handy addition for those of us who don't have kung-fu memory skills.) It's also easy enough to learn that children can be taught to play, but it's still fun for the adults. I'm not sure why the game went out of print, unless it's that some of the questions (Are you white? Are you black? Are you Oriental? Do you smoke?) are considered too politically incorrect for our time. It could probably be updated successfully with animals instead of people. In any case, Whosit? has become a family game, and I've seen (and participated in) quite a few games played over the last few days.

Mah jongg is another slightly obscure game we tend to play as a family; we don't play for cash or even for points, just to win, and each of the boys in hubby's family has a mah jongg set, to be dragged out during every family reunion or gathering of at least four people. I'm glad there's nobody staying underneath our rooms at night, because the process of "tile washing" before the next game setup can get pretty clattery.

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