There’s a game. A party game. An old party game called Fictionary. There’s another game. Plays like Fictionary. As challenging as Fictionary. At least as funny. Only, more elegantly designed. More intriguingly packaged. More portable. More, well, lovable. And it’s called Fictionaire.

Yes, it looks like a package of cigarettes. If you’re an anti-smoking kind of person, get over it. It’s a very clever little package. Very functional. Let me explain:

It’s a deck of cards. Sixty of the cards are for questions. There are questions on both sides of the cards. So you get 120 questions. There are also answers on the lower half of each card. But, notice, if you close the flap and tuck the question card the question card in as illustrated, you can’t see the answer. Very clever. If you could see the answer, you’d also notice that some of the words are in red (most of the time). There are also point cards and instruction cards. We’ll get to them later.

First, let me tell you about the exceptionally elegant part. You don’t need a dictionary. You don’t need paper and pencils. Everything you need is in that small, enticingly politically-incorrect, shirt-pocket-size box. You don’t even need pencil and paper to keep score. That’s what the point cards are for. There are 14 of them. You only need twice as many as there are players, because you only play two rounds.

So, one person reads the word in question on top of the first card in the pack (or any card, as long as the bottom stays hidden). For example, the questioner reads: “What is a Kiskeedee?”

Then the pack is passed to the next player. That player slides the card up so she can see the answer, which, in this case, is “A French-speaking person who us unable to understand English.” Notice the words in red. Since that player is the first to go, she can decide whether on not she wants to give the “real” answer. If she goes for reality, she must include the red words, her clue being something like “a French person who is unable to understand you,” or “what you might call someone who is French who, no matter how hard you try, seems unable to understand what you are saying.” The remaining players make up their own definitions, e.g.: “an affectionate person who likes to make nice to babies.”

Of course, the first player can always choose not to give the real answer – in many cases, a very wise choice, forcing someone else to have to deal with the truth – as long as someone does so before the round is over. The person who read the question (the “host”) then gives one point card to the person she thinks gave the correct answer. If he tricked the host, then that player also gets the question card. If not, the host gets it.

And on and on, until all the point cards are played, the player with the most point and/or question cards winning the game.

Elegant, don’t you think. Portable, party-worthy, pencil-and-paper-less fun.

There are four different, shall we say, packs, each extending the concept into a different area of knowledge: Classic (“What is a Vade Mecum?”), Naturals (“Harlequin ducks walk like a duck and quack like a….?”), Fool Science (“In the early 1900s phone operators were required to…”), Tall Tales (“When you enter a Mongolian Yurt it is customary to drink a glass of Kumis. What is it made of?”).

Designed by Hervé Marly, for people of smoking age, but not necessarily for smokers, available in the U.S. from Days of Wonder.

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