It was an odd month, being without any games to play! But my latest shipment from BoardGameExchange.com finally came in and we’re back at it. This week I am reviewing a “game” called The Un-Game published by Talicor.
Before I get into the gameplay, I wanted to comment on the background of how this even came to be because I found it unique and important to the point of the game. Apparently the creator, Rhea Zakich from Garden Grove, California, suffered a period of time when she was unable to speak due to vocal chord polyps and felt a great emotional isolation from her family once she recovered. To deal with this, she started writing down questions she wanted to ask her family on cards, some fun and some serious- coming up with almost 200. After playing it with her family she realized she learned more about them in 20 minutes than the last 5 years. She began sharing it with friends and family until one day someone from Talicor found it and started publishing.
This is relevant because The Ungame is not really about winning or losing, competition or strategy but to instead communicate, relate and have a chance to speak without interruption. It’s incredibly simple and is most definitely not for everyone… It’s also not necessarily good for people who don’t care to get to know each other… but with the right group of people it gives you a great opportunity to bond and learn things you may never have known otherwise.
What You’re About To Do
Now, when I opened the box of games that just arrived, I was in search of something to play with 4 people. Some of the stuff I’ll be reviewing soon was best for 2 people so I was a bit limited. However, when we stumbled upon The Ungame we were more curious and confused than intrigued. We hadn’t known the history of the game at that point. So to say, we went in blind- is the best way to describe it.
You get 6 different colored pieces, a board, a die and two different stacks of cards; one features intimate, serious questions and the other lighthearted and fun. You can purchase additional “card packs” with different themes at an added cost.
The rules say to first establish the length of time you’d like to play – which for me, was a little concerning. Most games up until this point tell you how long the game should take, not the other way around! In any case, we thought we’d aim for an hour.
It is as simple as you would expect for a game with no way to “win”- each player rolls the die on their turn, moves their piece across the board and follows the direction on the space they land. You may get “Tell it like it is”, “Do Your Own Thing” or “Hang Up”.
“Tell it like it is” = You pick up a card which will probably say something like “Talk about Courage” or “If you could change one thing in your life what would it be”.
“Do Your Own Thing” spaces allow you to comment on something someone else said, ask a player a question or pull a card.
If you land on a “Hang Up” space, you will be asked a question like “Did you do someone a favor today? If not, move to the Favor Factory” – which is a spot on the board.
The Ungame is Unending
There is no end to the path you follow- which is why they suggest you decide how long you want to play. In our case, after a few drinks we realized we’d been playing almost 2 hours straight. The reason why it was so easy to get into, is because we genuinely enjoyed hearing what each person had to say with the questions posed. The only strict rule is to not speak, comment or interrupt any of the players turns. This forces you to write things down so you don’t forget to bring it up when your turn comes around and you’re offered the chance to comment.
This game would have been disappointing if it had just been my Fiance and I- but with a group of best friends it was very enjoyable and a surprise to us. I could see it being awkward to play with folks you don’t know or care about- simply because the rules ask you to listen and the objective is to get to know your “opponents” better.
If you’re only out to compete, best stay away from this one. The Ungame encourages feelings and connections, it’s not for everyone. If you’re a parent looking to get to know your children or other family members, a teacher trying to unite your class or a new nanny/babysitter in search of learning about your new crew, check it out!
1-4 Too Much Awful
5-7.5- Not so Awesome
7.6-8.5 Almost awesome
8.6-9.4 – Awesome!
9.5-10- Totally Awesome!
I enjoyed this game with my friends but I don't believe this is means everyone who picks it up will be glad they did. The concept is probably the best part- in the sense that you start to play knowing you're out to get deep and build relationships. There was nothing special to the board itself or any of the cards... Since you choose how long you play, one can't complain it went on for too long.. In our case, it went on forever because we got really into it. That is why the gameplay received the highest rating of all- if it's a good fit for you, you won't necessarily want to stop! The mystery of what your next question will be, or when you'll have the opportunity to remark on something previously stated- can add a lot of energy to each turn. This is a unique option for those in search of a non-competitive, family friendly game night. In short, The Ungame received a 7.1 (Not So Awesome) score because it does not have the same mass appeal I have experienced in other choices.