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[Review] Thingamajig

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tomvasel
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Joined: 03/23/2011

When I first saw Thingamajig (R & R Games, 2003 - Aaron Weissblum), I had high hopes for it, since R & R Games first party game Time’s Up is still the greatest party game of all time (in my opinion.) I read the concept of Thingamajig on the internet, and thought that it was simple, easy, and fun - something I think is crucial for a party game. I picked up a copy of the game, and after prying it open (wasn’t easy), tried it out.

And yet another party game has been added to my regular rotation of party games. The basic premise of the game is a very clever idea; and although it can be “broken” in some situations, the game is fun, moves quickly, and everyone I’ve taught it to has enjoyed it. One big drawing factor to Thingamajig is that I’ve seen a huge variety of people play the game, including a few people who I never thought I’d get to play a game and enjoy it. Some party games like Time’s Up and Talkin’ Tango really need good personalities to make them shine; but Thingamajig can be played by all types of people - including quiet, reserved types - and the game is still interesting and fun.

A pile of red chips is placed in the middle of the table, with the amount determined by the amount of players, which can range from three to any amount (although more than eight can be fairly awkward.) Each player receives a pencil and piece of paper. The “Thingamajig”, a plastic electronic device that generates random words is given to the youngest player. This player starts the first round, and then play passes clockwise around the table.

On a turn the person with the Thingamajig presses the button on the device, receiving a random word. They then give clues to the other players as to what the word is. The clue-giving player may talk at great length, be cryptic, or pretty much do whatever they want when giving clues. All other players write on their paper their guess as to what the word is. After everyone has guessed, the word is revealed, and scoring occurs. Each player who guessed correctly gets one chip, and the definer gets one chip for each correct guesser; UNLESS everyone guess correctly, in which case they get nothing. Play continues until all the chips are gone from the center of the table. At that time, whichever player has the most chips is declared the winner!

Some comments on the game...

1.) Components: The box, which is very brightly colored (typical of R & R Games), is extremely sturdy and fits together rather tightly, which can be good (doesn’t fall apart easily) and bad (it’s a pain to open). The chips are basically tiddly winks, but are functional and easy to count and move around. Pencils and paper are included, as should be in all party games. The Thingamajig, of course, is the major component of the game, and seems to work fairly well. I had some problems with mine, however. When I first used it, it did not randomly generate words, but rather gave them out in alphabetical fashion. I took the batteries out to reset it, but in doing so accidentally broke the little spring holding the watch-type batteries in it. I was able to get someone to jury-rig them into place (don’t know if I’ll ever be able to change them), and it works fine; but it seems awfully fragile. My story could be one-in-a-million; however, and all other components were top notch.

2.) Rules: There isn’t much to say here, since the rules were so small they could practically have been printed on a business card. The game is extremely easy to teach and learn, more so than almost any other game.

3.) Variants: If you go to the R & R website, http://www.rnrgames.com/content/news/Thingamajig-alternate.php, you can find variants to the game, as well as totally different games that can be played utilizing the Thingamajig. Of course, a random word generator could probably be used as the basis for many games. I prefer the one that came in the box with the device.

4.) Fun Factor and Players: The game box lists no upper limit of players, but I think it would be quite awkward with over eight players. My game of eight players was enjoyable, but ended very quickly. I found that five or six was more of an optimal number. Game play was a lot of fun, with people groaning in agony over how hard it was to think of cryptic clues, and laughing at others for the strange clues or answers they gave.

5.) Clue-giving and One Problem: It’s an interesting task to try to give a clue that everyone but one person will guess, optimizing your points. However, it’s not quite so hard when there is one child or someone from another culture in the game (both I’ve experienced). Since English is not that person’s native language (or they’re still learning it), there is a good chance that clues that are easy for everyone but that player can often be given. This may be fun for everyone but that one person. This isn’t a huge problem, but I would recommend a different game if one person in a group is at a different understanding level than the other players.

But all in all, Thingamajig is a fantastic little party game. It’s the kind of idea that makes you slap your head, and wonder why no one else thought of it. My biggest admiration of the game is that it seamlessly combines crazy players and serious players, where they all have fun, and no one has a real advantage. It’s not the best party game I’ve played (Time’s Up still holds that honor), but it is in the top ten; and one that I would recommend to any group, for almost any situation.

Tom Vasel
“Real men play board games.”

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