Trivial Pursuit Steal - The Card Game

A card game version of Trivial Pursuit.

Trivial Pursuit Steal Card Game

The big knock on Trivial Pursuit, among those select-few board game fans who aren't all that into Trivial Pursuit, is that there's no way to develop your game skills besides, well, memorizing questions and answers. In a gaming world where interaction and variety are king, Trivial Pursuit is an outmoded style of game, one characterized by long periods of down time and no discernible strategy. Hasbro, who now owns the Trivial Pursuit franchise, is trying to correct that by introducing new styles of Trivial Pursuit play more in line with games like Bezzerwizzer, Wits & Wagers, and Cranium. This new style of board game is about playing a game, not moving a piece around a board and answering a trivia question every now and then.

Enter the Trivial Pursuit Steal card game, which ditches the Trivial Pursuit board entirely in favor of two decks of cards and a more streamlined game that tries to involve all players in every moment of play.

Trivial Pursuit Steal Card Game Review

The problem with Trivial Pursuit is that this kind of trivia game doesn't give players enough decisions. Modern board gamers use words like decision trees and concepts from mathematical game theory to describe their love for today's complex board games.

Here's a bit from a review of Trivial Pursuit posted by a board game fanatic at Board Game Geek, as an example: "Trivial Pursuit [adds] a roll-and-move mechanism and a set collection aspect that is entirely dependent on said rolling and moving. The end result is a game where I feel I have almost no control and a game that tends to run long as I wander around the board."

On the one hand, Trivial Pursuit fans can identify with his frustration--we've all had those rounds where we found ourselves "wandering around the board." On the other hand, what the hell is a "set collection aspect?" These new gamers are tough to please.

Trivial Pursuit has a way of putting together game titles that take longer to say than to play--Trivial Pursuit Steal Card Game (TPSCG) is made up of two decks of cards, that's it. No pie pieces, no player tokens, no die. Two decks of cards and your friends--this makes it a perfect game for road trips, long bus rides, or back of the high school band hall trivia contests while the band director is sleeping off a hangover. Yeah, I was a dork in high school, what's it to you?

One deck of the game consists entirely of questions in the traditional categories and colors of Trivial Pursuit. Unfortunately, this is where TPSCG first goes wrong--there are only 55 question cards, for a grand total of 330 Trivial Pursuit questions. That's fewer than the smallest edition of Trivial Pursuit by a power of ten. Even doubling the deck of question cards would increase the variety and "replay" value of this game, but there must have been some packaging issues. Would it really have killed Hasbro's budget to stick two decks of trivia cards in the box?

Another flaw with the game design is that only two people can play this game at a time. Both players are dealt a hand of five game cards, which are either "wedge cards" or what the game calls "action cards." A turn consists of one player drawing a question card and the other player laying down an action card.

The wedge cards are traditional Trivial Pursuit colors, in traditional modern Trivial Pursuit categories. Your opponent draws a question card and asks you the question for the category matching the wedge card you just played. Get the question correct and keep the wedge card in play. Besides the standard categories, there is a card known as a "wild wedge" that lets you choose a category--get that question right and your wild wedge can count for any color in the Trivial Pursuit rainbow. This is a great way to get out of answering a question in a category you're no good at.

The other "action cards" make the game a little more intriguing: "steal cards" let you take a wedge from the other player's collection (the cards he's laid down in front of him and won by answering correctly) and the game's "block cards" let you block your opponent's thievery. In a nod to Uno, there are also "Steal Two" cards that let you steal two of your opponent's wedges. Only one "block card" is required to block the theft of two of your wedges.

The Infamous Buzzer Card

Where I draw the line with this game is the "buzzer card." The buzzer card is always on the playing surface and isn't played in anyone's hand--instead, players grab the buzzer card when they want to answer a question that the other player got wrong. Stealing an opponent's question can be dangerous; answer a stolen question incorrectly and you lose a wedge from your collection.

The buzzer card is the symbol of everything that's wrong with this game. Instead of including an actual buzzer or modifying game play some other way, Hasbro gives us a "buzzer card." What the heck? Is it a buzzer? Is it a card? It can't possibly be both. I think calling this thing a "buzzer" at all is stretching that word's definition. It could have just as easily been called a "Stolen Question card" or something.

Winning the Trivial Pursuit Steal Card Game

The first player to collect all six colors in wedges wins. That means stealing wedges, answering questions for wedges, using wild wedges for categories you hate, or any other means you have of putting together a tableau of wedges.

People who hate Trivial Pursuit are still going to hate the Trivial Pursuit Steal Card Game. The reason? If you play Monopoly two hundred times a year, you'll get better at Monopoly. Playing any version of Trivial Pursuit over and over again will only improve your Trivial Pursuit skills because you've memorized the question cards, not because you improved your trivia strategy.

The bottom line on this Hasbro game--it retails for about $5 and is a good distraction for the kids in the backseat or on a long airplane trip. It could also be a good way to increase your knowledge of trivia. Just don't expect to get much replay value out of this Trivial Pursuit update. Let's hope that Hasbro will release some new trivial games that have more replay value.