Friday, December 2, 2016

GJJ Games Reviews - SiXeS by Eagle-Gryphon Games

Designers: Rick Soued
and Steven Poelzing
Publisher: Eagle-Gryphon Games
6-66p | 15-30m | 6+
GJJ Games Reviews - SiXeS by Eagle-Gryphon Games

Game Overview:
SiXeS is a party game that has a lot in common with the classic Scattergories, but with a few twists and in a condensed package.  Scattergories was a favorite game that my wife and I would play with other couples back in the day before kids and before I was introduced to the modern world of strategy games.  It's been a long time since I've played any games like this, but when Daniel at Eagle-Gryphon Games asked me to review SiXeS, I was intrigued.  Would the game hold up against a beloved favorite?

SiXeS is a casual party game for six or more players that takes 6-66 minutes, but in reality it's probably closer to about 15-30 minutes.  It can probably be played by as few as four and I don't think I'd play with more than ten.  The six player minimum, I think, is mainly to carry the theme.  The box says it's for ages 6 and up, but I'd probably recommend age 8 or 10 for a minimum, not because of any content or mechanics issues, but mostly because of the need to have a bit of life experience and the ability to think and write quickly.  They really do like their sixes in this game.

Components & Packaging:
There isn't really a whole lot to SiXeS.  Just a stack of cards (36 each of three different types) and a pad of double sided score sheets.  The box is a decent quality and has a standard cardboard insert that let's you split the cards into two piles.

There is no art at all in the game.  The cards are very plain with some text and the game logo, however each type of card is a slight tint so they're easy to separate.  There's nothing to really discuss as far as how the components look, they're very spartan, but serve their purpose well.  The card quality is fine, and it's nice that the score sheets are double sided, but there's nothing here to wow you.  I do wish there were more score sheets though.  With only 50 sheets, that's 100 games.  If you play with eight players you're only going to get about a dozen games in before you need more sheets (or just use blank paper).
Came contents: 3 sets of 36 cards, 1 score pad with 50 double sided score sheets, a rules sheet, and the box.
One requirement of the game is a one-minute timer and something for each player to write with.  These aren't included, but with the ubiquitousness of smart phones with timers, that's not a huge issue.  I always found clicking or buzzing timers annoying and sand timers tend to be ignored anyway, so needing a phone or tablet is fine.  Alternately you can play without a timer and just have everyone take what seems to be a fair and appropriate amount of time each round.

Score: 6/10 x1

Rules & Setup:
Setup is a breeze and the rules can be explained in about two minutes.  It doesn't get much easier.

Setup consists of separating the cards into three decks, one each for Match, Unique, and Lightning, as designated by a label on the cards.  These can be shuffled, or just play from the top and work your way down.  This is the type of game where repeating cards actually lessens the experience, so just work your way through the decks and then start over.

SiXeS plays in six rounds.  Rounds one and four are Match rounds, two and five are Unique, and three and six are Lightning rounds.  At the beginning of each round a card from the appropriate deck is tipped and a category is revealed (or six categories in a lightning round).  Players then all have one minute to come up with six words that fit in that category and write them on their score sheets.  For example, if the category is "Sandwiches" I might list out Peanut Butter and Jelly, Grilled Cheese, Sub, Bread, Lunch Meat, and Mayonnaise.  If the round was a Match round I would get one point for every item I listed that someone else also listed.  If it was a Unique round I would get one point for every item that no one else put.
Some examples of Match categories.

Some examples of Unique categories.
Lightning rounds are a little different because the cards have six categories.  Instead of writing six items for one category, in a Lightning round you have to give one item for each category.  You'll score a point for every item you list that matches someone else, just like in a Match round.
Some examples of Lightning categories.
If you score all six points in a round you'll get a bonus point.  After six rounds everyone talies their scores and the highest wins.  But SiXeS isn't really about winning, it's about the experience of playing.

Score: 8/10 x2

The rules petty much describe the gameplay.  There's no real strategy, other than trying to think of items that you think will be common or unique depending on the round.  

The topics on the cards are pretty generic and shouldn't be affected by time, generational gaps, or culture too much.  There are a handful of categories that are a bit dated, but not too many.  2000's TV shows might be a bit awkward in 20 years, but there aren't any super specific pop culture topics.
Everyone hard at work trying to come up with items related to "Batteries" that will match other players ideas.
And the topics that do get a little specific can actually be kind of fun and eye opening.  I played one game with five teens and three adults and one of the Match topics was "Beach Boys".  The other adults and I listed out the names of songs by the Beach Boys, band members, and cultural associations and ended up having a total of two matches between the three of us.  The teens didn't know anything about the Beach Boys other than they were a band, so they all ended up listing things like guitar, drums, singer, and microphone.  They ended up destroying us that round!
The Beach Boys sure had a lot of hits.  Too bad none of us wrote the same songs down!
I think we only had two very minor gameplay issues.  The first was how much the game slowed down between rounds as each player read off their list.  It was fun hearing all the answers, but it really did slow the game.  That's fairly typical if this style of game though, and even with eight players it didn't bog down too much.  The other issue was with the Lightning round.  The card has six categories on it and players who were sitting further away from the card had trouble reading the topics.  We worked around it by reading the categories one at a time and giving everyone a few seconds to write an item before moving on to the next category.  We didn't use the timer in the lightning rounds.

But overall, the gameplay was smooth, fast, and fun.

Score: 7/10 x3

SiXeS is a game that will get different mileage in different groups.  It'll really depend on how often you enjoy this style of game.  If you enjoy games like Scattergories, Taboo, Balderdash, etc. then SiXeS will fit right in with your repertoire.  

With 36 double sided cards for each round type, you'll run out of score sheets long before you cycle through the cards.  And even after you've played all the cards, your answers are going to depend as much on who you are playing against as the categories on the cards.  
There are enough cards to keep the topics from getting too repetitive.
Even though every game will be different, the gameplay isn't really going to change from game to game.  For anyone more than casual gamers, SiXeS will work best as a filler or game to take to non-gamer family gatherings.  It's easy rules and small size mean it'll be easy to bring anywhere, even for just a play or two.  But unless your main gaming focus is family party games, then you'll probably only play this occasionally.

Score: 6/10 x1

General Fun:
As is typical for this style of game, everyone had fun playing.  Enough so that they asked to play a second time.  Hearing everyone's answers was fun, and the challenge of trying to come up with six items in 60 seconds was entertaining as well.  

This is a great game to play in mixed company, too.  Because of the alternating Match and Unique style rounds, players have to think about what other players may or may not list.  Even though some categories may seem biased toward certain generations, we found that wasn't always the case, as long as there were several players from each generation playing.  

One thing that SiXeS doesn't lend itself to, and this may be a pro or con, depending on your attitude, is gutter thought.  In games like Scattergories and Balderdash, with the right players, it's iinevitable that some of the answers sometimes veer toward 'adult' topics.  This can be a big part of the fun of these games, without the potty humor feeling forced like in Cards Against Humanity and other such games.  I prefer to be entertained by seeing how people can wind up in the gutter through seemingly innocent topics rather than starting the whole game right in the sewer.  However in SiXeS there isn't as much opportunity for that kind of mental deviation.  With only sixty seconds to come up with six items, the mind doesn't have time to wander.  That, coupled with the fact that in most rounds you are trying to come up with the same items as the other players, keeps the game mostly in PG territory.  That's not to say there isn't opportunity to let your depravity loose, there are two Unique rounds after all, just that it takes more of an effort.  The topics also don't seem to lend themselves to that kind of thought either, but then again, some people like a challenge.  But overall, you'll find SiXeS very family friendly and accessible to even your proper Aunt Mildred.

Score: 7/10 x2

Overall Value:
With an MSRP of only $12, SiXeS is a bargain compared to most modern games.  Compared to similar games like Scattergories or Taboo, it's just a few bucks cheaper.  However those mainstream games are often available for even less on sale, and for dirt cheap at resale shops if you're fine with older used copies.  So you definitely won't feel cheated, and you'll definitely get your money's worth, but you can get similar games for cheaper if you look.

Score: 7/10 x1

Final Thoughts:
I was pleasantly surprised by SiXeS.  It was a lot more fun, and was received by my friends much better than I expected.  And dare I say it, but I think it might replace Scattergories for me.  I like the fact that it's compact, quick, and easy.  It plays great with a wide number of people, and its accessible to non-gamers.  I think the only thing Scattergories has over SiXeS is that Scattergories iis more open to players joining and leaving at any time.  In SiXeS you really need to play all six rounds, where as with Scattergories you can drop in for just a single round if you like.
I was disappointed that no one else put McCoy down when the category was "Bones"...
Regardless, SiXeS is a solid, fun, family party game.  If you're looking for a classic style game with a bit of a new twist, SiXeS will fit your bill.  The price is right, and it's a blast to play.  Check it out at the Eagle-Gryphon website, an online game store, or ask for it at your friendly local game store.

Overall Score: 70/100

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GJJG Game Reviews are independent, unpaid reviews of games I, George Jaros, have played with my family and friends.  Some of these games I own, some are owned by friends, some are borrowed, and some are print and play versions of games.  Where applicable I will indicate if games have been played with kids or adults or a mix (Family Play).  I won't go into extensive detail about how to play the game (there are plenty of other sources for that information and I'll occasionally link to those other sources), but I will give my impressions of the game and how my friends and family reacted to the game.  A score of 1-10 (low-high) is given to each game in six categories: Components & Packaging, Rules & Setup, Gameplay, Replayability, Overall Value, and General Fun.  Rules & Setup and General Fun are weighted double and Gameplay is weighted triple.  Educational games have an extra category and Gameplay is only weighted double. Then the game is given a total score of x/100.

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