The Interrogation Game
Here’s a question for you. Which would you miss more if it ceased to exist: Vlaada Chvátil designing light party-style games or Vlaada Chvátil designing overly complicated games?
If you’re anything like me, there’s no contest between Codenames and Space Alert, though I’d still miss the former if it disappeared from the face of the Earth all the same. If you guessed that would be my answer, you get a point. If not, the guy who asked me the question gets a point.
There you go. I just summed up Chvátil’s latest, That’s a Question!
In the grand tradition of parlor games that ask the timeless question, “Who’d You Rather Do?”, this is a game about binary questions and hopefully surprising answers. It’s the sort of thing that aging hosts like to spring on younger guests, usually as a means of highlighting just how little everyone knows about their significant others. And often as a means of showing off, because Harold and Maudette spent four hours rehearsing their answers in between episodes of Murder She Wrote.
In practice, That’s a Question! plays a bit like an interrogative Dixit. Someone asks a question from three prompts and a thick stack of cards, everyone guesses what the person being asked will answer, and points are doled out based on your success or everyone else’s failure. It isn’t necessary to know each other, and in fact the game works either way, as a get-to-know-you activity or as a step toward realizing that your best friend really doesn’t have any sense of personal ethics whatsoever when they respond that they don’t really mind when someone skims a bit of money at work, but really frowns on anyone who coughs without covering their mouth.
There’s a bit more to it than merely asking questions and making guesses, mostly in the form of kicker tokens. Each player has two of these, one that triples their score if they guess the correct answer and another that gives them points when everybody else gets it wrong. The trade-off is that these are one-shot deals and will only return to your hand once you reach particular scores. It’s a minor thing, but it does make it possible to make the occasional clever play or fumbling error.
It’s familiar territory, which also means it isn’t exactly blazing new trails. If anything, That’s a Question! is a surprisingly pedestrian maneuver from the designer who birthed Galaxy Trucker into the world. It’s hard not to feel just a smidgen disappointed that Chvátil didn’t insert more twists on the classic formula.
That said, there is something pleasant about being surprised by your loved ones, and hearing someone’s reasoning why they would miss pretty flowers more than pants is usually good for a chuckle. It may border on cliché, but there’s a reason these sorts of games have been played in parlors for generations, albeit with fewer colorful woodland creatures.
Which is to say, I’ve had a perfectly good time with That’s a Question!, even though I wouldn’t necessarily bother to recommend it to anyone. I’ve had lovely matches with my extended family, and my wife used it as an icebreaker with a local youth group. It was an excellent fit in both situations.
Just don’t go into it expecting the next evolution of Mage Knight, because complicated, deep, or even all that interesting, That’s a Question! ain’t.