What We Like
Easy to learn and play
Fun and engaging
Has an educational component
What We Don't Like
Might be too advanced for younger players
Games can be short
With a name like Smart Ass, you have to wonder if this trivia-based board game lives up to its implied challenge. In order to see if it was strictly for know-it-alls or whether it could keep a diverse group of people entertained at our next game night, we put it to the test. Read on for what we found in terms of design, entertainment, and educational value.
Design: Easy setup and fun to play
Smart Ass’ instructions are very easy to follow. The game is made for 2 to 6 players; the oldest player is designated Reader and will ask the first question. Player 1, the person to the Reader’s left, will roll the colored dice to determine the category of the question. There are four categories of cards: “What Am I?,” “Where Am I?,” “Who Am I?” and “Hard Ass.” Once a card is pulled, one person will begin reading clues aloud while the other players try to come up with the answer. Any player can give an answer at any time. However, each player only gets one chance to answer each card. If someone provides an incorrect answer, they are out of the game for the rest of that round. The person that answers correctly rolls the dice and moves his/her playing piece forward according to the number of spaces indicated. Players have to think fast because the first one to say the correct answer advances on the board. Rounds progress until the first person to land on “The End” space, featuring a grinning donkey, wins the game.
We found that each game was relatively quick. Our first run lasted about 15 minutes.
While the rules are easy to comprehend, the way the game was boxed was a little weird. One thing we noticed after removing the cards from the packaging was that they weren’t in order. The cards come individually wrapped in four piles, so we assumed they were separated by the aforementioned categories. After flipping through them, though, we realized that there was a mix of question categories in each stack. Not a big deal, but be sure to organize the cards beforehand so you don’t end up reading from the wrong category once you start the game.
There is no official rule on how much time players can take to answer a particular question. We played at a more leisurely pace, often rereading the clues several times and giving players as much time as they needed to make an educated guess. To pick up the pace and make the game more challenging, you could easily set your own time restriction.
Entertainment Value: Quick but fun for all
I played this game with my brother, sister-in-law, and teenage nephew. Since there is a fairly broad age gap between the four of us, it was a great way to test the universal appeal of the game. My nephew is 16 and the rest of us are in our late thirties to early fifties. We were all able to answer our fair share of questions, so the game is certainly ideal for different age ranges. Every so often, all of us were stumped by a particularly difficult question. And yes, we admit we missed a few obvious ones, too! The game was as entertaining for my teenage nephew as it was for the rest of us adults—so if you’re looking for a family-friendly game, this may be it.
Each player has a fair shot at winning regardless of their trivia prowess.
We found that each game was relatively quick. Our first run lasted about 15 minutes, while our second one took a bit longer (26 minutes). We liked the fact that the pace of the game was always changing. The person that answers the most questions correctly will not necessarily win the game, either. There are spaces on the board can that help or hinder a player’s chance at winning. Landing on the “Dumb Ass” space will cost you a penalty: You are barred from the answering the next question. If you land on the “Hard Ass” space, you receive a bonus question that no one else can answer. If you get the question right, you can roll the dice again and make an extra move on the board. Beware of landing on the dreaded “Kick Ass” space, which forces a player to move his/her playing piece back three spaces. Given all these variables, each player has a fair shot at winning regardless of their trivia prowess.
Educational Value: Trivia is across the board
With topics ranging from history and geography to literature, pop culture, and food, Smart Ass will make the most of your collective brain power. There are certainly enough categories to appeal to everyone’s interests and whether you win or lose, you’ll gain lots of knowledge throughout the game. If you play the game enough to memorize all the answers, you can also purchase expansion packs like ‘90s Nostalgia and Geek Chic.
Age Range: 12 and up
The recommended age range for this game is 12 and up. However, we found that a lot of the trivia might be too advanced for your average 12-year-old or early teen—unless he or she happens to be a real brainiac/Jeopardy binge-watcher. There were a lot of questions pertaining to the ‘60s and ‘70s, as well as a significant amount of questions related to ancient Greek philosophy. As adults, we were stumped by some of the questions, so we imagine an early teen would feel lost.
With topics ranging from history and geography to literature, pop culture, and food, Smart Ass will make the most of your collective brain power.
Price: More than worth it
Retailing for about $20, Smart Ass is slightly cheaper than other comparable board games on the market. Don’t let the lower price tag fool you, though. When it comes to entertainment, this board game really packs a punch.
Competition: With a million games on the market, the ‘best’ is up to personal preference
If you’re looking for less cerebral and more lighthearted fun, Spontuneous is another interactive board game designed for larger groups. You need a minimum of four people to play this game, but it can accommodate up to ten. Retailing around $30, Spontuneous comes with a slightly higher price tag, but it provides a more boisterous form of entertainment. With random challenges like yodeling and impromptu dancing, it’s definitely more of a party game. For people who love the spotlight, Spontuneous is a godsend; but for quiet types, singing in front of an audience probably isn’t your idea of fun.
Since there’s a minimal price difference between the two, the choice between Smart Ass or Spontuneous all boils down to personal preference. Are you more of a trivia buff or a music lover? If you’d rather rack your brain for obscure historical facts, Smart Ass is right up your alley. If you like to belt out song lyrics and ham it up at parties, Spontuneous is the perfect game for you.
- Product Name Smart Ass
- Product Brand University Games
- Price $19.99
- Weight 2 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 10.63 x 2.63 x 10.63 in.
- Manufacturer Recommended Age Range 12 and up
- Number of Players 2 to 6
- What’s Included Game board, 411 question cards, aix playing pieces and stand, colored jumbo category die, numbered jumbo movement die, instructions