Oh, Really!

Oh, Really!™ is a party game for 3 up to 8 players or teams. Given the team possibility, Oh, Really! is a game that can easily provide anywhere from a half-hour to 90-minutes of thought- and laughter-provoking entertainment for your personal multitudes. And if some of that particular multitude happens to include those of the eight- or eighty-year-old variety so much more the potential fun of it all.

There are 200 “word cards” – nouns, actually, of a surprisingly wide range of seemingly arbitrary significance, such as: “Good Looks,” “Funerals” “Anti-Drug Laws,” “Hygeine” and “Beef.” I select a random five of the 200, because that’s what you’ll be doing as well. Then there’s a board, with five places for you to put your cards. Each of the five is marked with different symbol: &, #, !, *, and “+.” There are also 8 sets of “ranking cards,” one card in each set for each of the 5 different symbols.

One player or team places the 5 “word cards” face-up, on the board, one card in each space thoughtfully provided for it. Every team or player than arranges their 5 voting cards in order, from left to right, the leftmost indicating which “word card” should be ranked highest, the rightmost, least. Why any player or team would rank, for example, “Beef” higher than “Hygeine” is a mystery of sometimes impenetrable significance, which, of course, everyone else hopes to have solved.

After everyone has arranged their voting cards accordingly, each gets a point for every voting card that is in the same position as someone else’s – depending on which variation you are playing. But, regardless of which variation, the mechanics are the same: lay out 5 “word cards,” arrange the “ranking cards” indicating the order in which the “word cards” should be ranked.

There are three suggested variations: the “Partners” game, the “Free for All” game and the “Follow the Leader” game. Each, because of the way score is kept, encourages people to try to anticipate how others will think. In the first, each partner tries to guess how the other ranked the “word cards.” Each set of partners or partner teams takes a turn. After looking at a random selection of “word cards,” both partners or teams arrange their ranking cards, hoping that their partner will have arrived at the same ranking. Teams, of course, can discuss the reasons for cards to be ranked in whatever way they so choose (obviously,  our partners will be thinking “hygiene” comes before “beef,” but just as clearly they’ll think “good looks” deserves a higher ranking than “hygiene.” Or will they?). Once both have ordered their ranking cards, they reveal their decision, the partners (or partnering teams) get one point for each “word card” they’ve ranked the same (these cards are pushed forward to indicate that they are a successful match) and two points if all five cards are ranked the same.

In the “Free For All” version, first each player or team ranks the cards. One player is selected to be “Chooser.” The “Chooser” then selects one other to compare with, getting one point for each match. After they reveal their rankings, all the other players reveal theirs. If another player has more matches than the chosen player, that player gets two points, and the Chooser and Chosen get none.

In “Follow the Leader,” players take turns being the Chooser. After the Chooser selects the rankings, the other players try to match the Chooser’s rankings. The Chooser reveals her highest ranking card, and then each other player also reveals their highest ranking card. The game continues in this way, card by card, until all cards are revealed. Players score one point for each match, and the Chooser also scores one point for every card that is pushed forward (a match), including their own.

You can, of course, play a different variation every turn, or play one variation for the whole duration. If one pair of players or teams seems overly attuned, then it’s a good time to try a different variation. Success in any of the variations, however, depends on luck, familiarity, and a significant tad of clairvoyance.

Regardless of which variation you play, Oh, Really! is wonderfully funny fun. Fundamentally, it’s a silly game. There are no absolute criteria for anyone to say that anything deserves a higher ranking than anything else. So arguing is pretty much pointless. As is feeling that your success has anything to do with anyone’s intelligence. In sum, a pretty much perfect party game.

Oh, Really!, available from FindIt Games, was originally designed by Mike Petty. It first came to our attention seven years ago, when it was called “What’s it To Ya.”

In reviewing a draft of this review, Mike shared his perspective on the game. I think it is valuable enough to make us think about the game in a different, and somewhat brighter light. He writes:

“After playing for years with different people I can see what you’re saying about the senselessness of arguing about the value of the items.  From a philosophical standpoint we can probably never agree on rankings.  I will would point out, however, that practically speaking, we each have a ‘right answer’ in our minds as to the value of things and by that we make significant life choices. I think there is great value in recognizing this in ourselves and others. There’s value in discussing the differences between these ‘right’ rankings by which we live.  I don’t say that to take issue with what you’ve written. There’s no sense in telling a person how not to enjoy a party game!  I simply wanted to point out that what I have come to appreciate most about the game is that it can be taken seriously and very lightly.”

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