Ticked Off

Bragging rights are perhaps the single most valuable commodity in any competition. Blue ribbons? Great bookmarks. Trophies? Lots of space for dust. Olympic gold medals? There’s not really that much gold in them. Cash prizes? You’ll probably blow it on rounds of drinks and a coterie of flunkies who you pay to listen to ALL YOUR BRAGGING!! The economy can devalue money in a hurry but bragging can be treasured forever.

Ticked Off takes great pride in being the ultimate forum for competitive souls to put their money where their mouths are. Of course, where goes the money so go the feet, and Ticked Off provides ample opportunity for players to savor the sweet sweet taste of victory as well as the cheesy toe-jam of failure.

In short, Ticked Off is a party game similar to Scattergories: given a category, how many examples can you come up with in a short period of time? But Ticked Off cranks up the pressure by forcing the players to bid on how many items they can list. Using a wheel of numbers from 1 – 20, players bid on how many examples they can list for the revealed category. For the player who bids highest, scoring is an all or nothing situation—if the player lists the number of examples they bid, he or she gets a hefty score. If the player fail to reach the bid, NO POINTS!

Points are awarded like Boggle and Scattergories: players read their lists and cross off any shared answers. Remaining unique answers are worth one point. First player to 50 wins. If the player who won the bid succeeds in writing a list of items that equals his or her bid then that player receives 2 points for each unique answer.

For example: if my bid of 13 was the highest and the category was “Actresses Starring in TV Comedies” then I need to write the names of 13 actresses who have starred in TV comedies before the timer runs out. If I get 13 written then I can earn points. If I write 12 then I get nothing (although my list could diminish the scores of the other players).

There is no way I would get any points. Not that I can’t think of actresses, but the timer sings an increasingly frantic song and there is only so much I can write in the time it gives. Turns out that just writing 13 names—even 13 words—is pretty tough in the time that is given. More on the timer in a bit…

BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE!! As if there wasn’t enough to think about, it turns out there is a good deal of strategy to Ticked Off thanks to one last twist. During the bidding, only one category card is revealed, but just before the timer is started a second category card is revealed and players can choose between the two. So if I bid on “Actresses Starring in TV Comedies” and the second category is “Baby Toys” I now have to decide which is my better category AND what the other players might be choosing. A great strategy turned out to be choosing the category that no one wanted because you were guaranteed points.

The rules for Ticked Off are short, clear, colorful, and snarky. It was refreshing to read rules that did not sound like the dosage instructions on a bottle of cough syrup. The rules encouraged smack talk and extolled the pleasures of lording your trivia knowledge over your fellow opponents.

Unfortunately I have to return to the issue of the timer. When it worked, the timer really enhanced the experience BUT the bloody thing was maddeningly touchy. The volume came and went. It often took several attempts to start. Lastly, the time varied but it was unclear if this was intentional. I used my watch to time several cycles. They varied from 37 seconds to just under 90 seconds. Some of the times seemed very odd (37?) which made me think that this was a wiring issue and not a matter of design. The short cycles were so short that it was physically impossible to write more than 10 to 12 items—a problem when you bid 15 or so. I’m hoping that this was a problem unique to the game we were testing.

Fortunately, the game itself was so Major Fun that we could overlook this technical difficulty. I think if you start to play this game you’ll quickly improvise your own timer just to keep playing.

For 3-10 players, ages 13+

Ticked Off designed by Ted Alspach. © 2011 by R&R Games.

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