When Apples to Apples first hit the market, it hit hard. I know I saw a copy at every youth group event we had, and anyone who didn’t own it was sure to get 5 copies for Christmas. Soon there were editions and expansions all over place so that you could play with cards that were specifically Disney, Jewish, or even about Jelly Belly. It can even take credit for the Cards Against Humanity craze that we’re (thankfully) starting to wrap up.
While the game was pretty fun, it has become a dust collector in many board game collections. Much of this can be attributed to us playing the game until we were sick, but there are also some pretty big flaws in the game design that often go unnoticed your first few playthroughs. One of the most important elements of the game – the cards – also lead to its major flaw.
We’ve all had those moments in Apples to Apples where you just sit for 3 or 4 straight turns submitting nonsense answers because none of your cards are matching the prompts. Not only are you frustrated that you can’t really participate, but these moments can sometimes ruin the mood for all players involved. Everyone’s laughing when someone played “My prom night” for “disappointing”, but the giggles are cut short when the next card is “World War II” and everyone is left feeling confused and uncomfortably patriotic.
Say Anything seeks to take the core element of user-generated content and make it more player dependent. You’ll find many similarities to our favorite fruit-titled game. Each round, one player will serve as a judge while the others will provide answers. The judges will ask a question from options on a card, and the rest of the players will try to provide the response that the judge will like best. However, they aren’t limited by the random nouns they find in their hand. Instead, they are given this.
The question here was probably “What disturbed fictional person do I have the biggest crush on?”
Players will write down their answers, then submit them face up in the middle of the table. The judge secretly votes for their favorite while the other players vote on which answer they believe the judge will pick. Points are awarded for the best answer and for accurate predictions. Play continues for a set number of rounds, and whoever has the most points wins.
What seems like such a simple change actually make Say Anything a much better experience than A2A (am I allowed to abbreviate it like that?). Instead of being limited to just a few options, anything’s on the table. You get to show how well you really know that judge, or how ridiculous of an answer you were able to think up. Instead of being forced to say ‘mold’ when the card reads ‘hilarious’, you now have the freedom to talk about clowns, memes, mutton bustin’, or John Mulaney. And yes, you can even say ‘mold’ if you would like. It’s still a terrible answer, but at least you got the freedom to make that poor choice on your own. While the awkward moments may still come when another player might not know the judge very as well, they’re no longer forced on you due to the random chance of the cards.
The question here was probably “Which band’s hairstyle will I probably replicate when I’ve given up on life?”
The betting that occurs also helps to keep all players engaged throughout a turn and gives everyone another opportunity to succeed. You might be horrible at coming up with clever answers, but you can still find satisfaction in correctly predicting each choice the judges will make. Providing that secondary way of getting points is just another way to hold the attention of those in your gaming session.
Great. So we seem to agree that if I begin to look like Bono, it’s time to be concerned.
Of course, Say Anything isn’t really a game about winning. Yes, there are points, and yes, there will be someone who gets the most, but you won’t even notice at the end of the game. What you will notice are those moments when everyone bursts out laughing at a ridiculous answer, or when you find out something new and very weird about your friend or family member. Did you know your best friend is most afraid of moths? Or that your brother’s guilty pleasure is watching Teletubbies while eating ungodly amounts of Twizzlers? How about that your Dad’s favorite movie soundtrack is The Bodyguard?
That last one’s true. And who can really blame him?
Like most party games, a lot of the fun is going to be dependent on who’s at the table. This is not one that’s going to play well at a board gaming convention. At a high school sleepover? Probably going to go a lot better. I think this game also works better for younger kids than A2A because you no longer have to explain or discard nouns that aren’t familiar or appropriate. I mean, perhaps you enjoy having to explain who Hitler is to a seven-year old in the middle of a light-hearted game, but I’m good leaving that behind.
Overall, Say Anything is a strong party game that works great for a big game night with friends and family. You’re not really going to hit the sweet spot until you get 6 players, but that’s true of most of the games in the genre. I generally find that we play multiple sessions of this game, and I could definitely see how hours could pass by where you’re laughing so hard you forget about the points and you’re just submitting ridiculous answers. And at less than $15, you’ll get your money’s worth quickly. So go ahead and send that copy of Apples to Apples on to that big shelf in the sky. Instead, enjoy the freedom and the good times that come with a copy of Say Anything.
You can purchase a copy of Say Anything on Amazon or at Target.
- Freedom to answer any way you want
- Multiple ways to earn points = multiple ways to keep players engaged
- Works well with larger groups
- Doesn’t really work with less than 6 players