Buzz It

You get 160 cards, total. Each player gets three cards. Each card has two categories on it – like: “Cannot take off” and “Leisure activities for old people.” Or “Things you secretly do at work” and “Famous sportsmen.” Or “Things that itch” and “Presents for mommy’s widdle puddy tat.” (Actual categories from actual cards.) You get an electronic timer you can set to 5 or 8 seconds. And you get a cloth bag that everything fits into very nicely.

It’s your turn to be Buzz Master. You pick any card, either category, and read it aloud. You start the timer. It beeps once. Everyone else takes a turn, each turn trying to come up with yet another example of the chosen category. Then the timer makes a polite, cymbal-crashing sound, and the card goes to whomever’s turn it is as a “token of failure.”

The round continues until everyone has used all their cards. Then a new round starts. On and on until all the cards have been played, the player with the fewest “failure tokens” having won.

You take turns being Buzz Master. The Buzz Master’s responsibilities are not only to select which of the two categories to use, but also to make sure the chosen category is in keeping with the general spirit of the crowd (Buzz It can be played by 2 to 10 players), and that responses are in keeping with the category. The Buzz Master may elect to make the categories more or less abstruse (e.g. “fictional sportsmen” instead of “famous sportsmen” ), or add more restrictions (things that itch beginning with the letter “b”). By artful selection and modification, the Buzz Master helps keep the game fun and helps the players avoid needing to resort to overly playful strategies (you could, if you wanted to, both hem and haw until the time was just about up, forcing the next player to take the “token of failure.”) Though the rules don’t specify it, it’s fairly obvious that when there are only two players, the Buzz Master answers questions as well as asks them.

OK, so the timer doesn’t “buzz.” It gongs. Which is a lot more pleasant, especially since it does so every 8 or 5 seconds (depending on the whim of the Buzz Master). And the box it comes in is cute, but flimsy. Which is also OK, because the bag works perfectly and for pretty much ever.

Buzz It, yet another of the surprisingly many games designed by Reiner Knizia, is most definitely a game you’ll want to take with you next time you have a family festival or you meet with a group of playful friends. It’s easy to learn. It is fast. It is funny. It is from Asmodee. It is Major Fun.

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