Designer: Steven Poelzing, Rick Soued
Publisher: Eagle-Gryphon Games
Category: Card Game, Party Game, Trivia, Word Game
Price: $7.99 Cool Stuff Inc.
Eagle-Gryphon Games expands its variety of game styles with SiXes. SiXes is the sixth addition to the Eagle-Gryphon Games E.G.G Series, with other games including 12 Days of Christmas, Seven7s, and Dexikon. As mentioned in our review for Masters Gallery, Eagle-Gryphon Games also publishes another series of games of increased complexity, alongside other big games like Age of Steam, Baseball Highlights 2045, Railways of the World, and Brass.
SiXes has tons of words on its cards, but none of them are suggestive. Players’ answers may vary in subjectivity of what is wholesome and what is…. maybe not wholesome…
I’ll admit, upon receiving my copy of SiXes in the mail, I felt confused and underwhelmed. I took a deep breath, tore the shrink wrap, and slipped off the cover, revealing some fat stacks of cards underneath (we’ll come back to this).
I took a moment to glance over the front and back printed rule paper, opened the packs of cards, admiring the off-red or off-yellow gradients creeping on the background of each card. I thought to myself, “I’m not sure how this is going to work, but I’m glad this isn’t Scattergories.”
SiXes is thankfully not Scattergories, but plays over six rounds, where players are trying to score the most points possible. Rounds alternate between “Match”, “Unique”, and “Lightning”, with each having a slightly different objective. In each minute-long round, players are given a paper with six round dividers and six sections to write within each. When time runs up, players one at a time read their answers, comparing to the others at the table.
Two rounds are “Match” rounds, where a card is flipped, and players must then write related words they think other players will write. Example: The card is “Ocean,” so players write “Sea, fish, boats, etc.” Any words that match at least one other player’s answers will net each player one point.
In another set of two rounds are the “Unique” rounds, where players must write words related to the card they assume no one else with think of. Example: The card says “Africa,” so players write “Toto”. Reference, anyone? Anyway, this is easier in this example, but it is sometimes far more difficult when, for example, if the card says Cactus. You better start thinking of Cacti species and not say “spiky” or “pokey”.
Finally, the other set of two rounds are the “Lightning” rounds. In these are six phrases or words where players will get points for matching identical words from other players. This is the same concept as the “Match” rounds, only now with multiple phrases to work off of.
That’s really it. As mentioned before, at the end of each round, players calculate points as they read off their answers, and sometimes, if a player gets a point for all six of their answers, they will receive one additional bonus point, totaling seven. Neat.
SiXes teaches incredibly fast. In fact, you probably took more time reading up to this point than it would actually take to explain in person. While I much appreciate the quick teaching time for a party game, some of us need a little more explanation. I actually provided more explanations in my review so far than provided in the rule book. To this extent, there is some nuance between what words actually count on a category, and which answers people have pulled out of the air. In fact, I think the rule book wins an award for “least descriptive rule sheet”.
The box art is drab, and the card design themselves isn’t interesting. There is a little confusion about why cards are certain colors, and I find it a little distracting that cards are double-sided. When beginning a round, before you flip the card over to learn your topic, everyone is already focused on the revealed card. If it’s the “Match” round, and the word on top is “Tires,” but we flip it to start the round, and the word is “Trees,” no doubt the table will write “Tire Swing.” They hang from trees, and we just saw the word “Tires,” so I think that colors it a bit.
Furthermore, I should pace myself, because I can’t expect a simple party game to grace us with beautiful components, similar to The Gallerist. That said, I think gamers do have some expectation of presentation, and it falls flat here. Comic Sans is indeed printed everywhere from the cards, to the scoring, and to the rules sheets. It’s not pretty, so I’ll leave that up to you. The cards however, are quite thick and durable, which I like.
As mentioned, this isn’t a graphic design masterpiece, but it wasn’t made for that purpose. SiXes is raucous, ridiculous, and loud. It stands proud at six inches tall. These simple cards bring forth some of the most interesting and hilarious aspects of a person’s mind. Yes, this game gives players a sense of how others think, and incredibly more so than something like Scattergories. In Scattergories, one works for himself to get points, but here, you rely on other’s answers, only sometimes straying off for the “Unique” rounds.
These fascinating moments of someone having to put themselves out there to pick up points in a game are absolutely the core of what I think party games need to be successful. Moments like in the “Match” round, the word is “Money,” and someone writes down “Fat Stacks,” truly believing others at the table also immediately thought of fat stacks of cash when money was mentioned. Or maybe when the word is “Space” in the “Unique” round, and someone only writes “no gravity,” “no oxygen,” “no people,” and “no animals.” Oh, the horrified look on their face as players around the table read their own answers, and this player in particular quickly realizes how completely off-base their understanding of the topic was.
Now, luckily there is a voting mechanic in the rulebook for answers that are way too specific or a huge stretch. Someone used “Andrew Luck” in the “Unique” round, when the word was “Horses.” Now, Luck is the quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts. But honestly, I could have said “Lion,” because lions have manes, and horses also have manes. See, the rules don’t say anything to determine precisely how far off your answer can be, but thankfully we do have the voting mechanic. Otherwise, we’ll drift mindlessly into whatever sort of post-modern, millennial way of thinking we prefer. After all, every person’s understanding of existence and life is truthfully relative to their own system of beliefs, despite what anyone else thinks, right? /sarcasm
We’ve drifted off review course. I apologize.
SiXes is a very, very, very good party game. It looks uninteresting and basic, but please trust me. I’ve played a few games now with a couple different groups, one with six players and the other with twelve. Both were entirely riotous and hilarious. Despite different ways of thinking and different understandings of the game and words, there were so many fits of laughter between both games. There was also so much variability between cards during the rounds.
I heard multiple players say they wanted to buy copies of this game to play with family and friends at home, or over the holidays. I must say I agree with that sentiment.
What makes a party game stand out in a crowded genre is one that puts groups of people together and allows them to explore their own sense of humor. These are games that make people think creatively and laugh at how silly they are. They remove the layers of seriousness that people cake all over themselves and push players to just have fun with each other.
In this regard, SiXes shines, and even though I prefer a lengthy euro with cattle allocation, I’ll gladly bring this one with me as a regular.
The Bottom Line
Hidden behind elementary artwork is an almost perfect party game for groups who don’t care for games, or who are looking for something fun and fast that will provide lots of laughs. SiXes is a mad game with so much replayability and joy behind it that I very much recommend it.