Party games are played in groups as the name suggests. Generally lacking in deep mechanics, the goal is interaction over strategy. The physical version of Wits and Wagers is an excellent party game. It takes the blandness of trivia games and mixes it with an excellent betting mechanic. You no longer have to know the right answer, just which of your friends has the answer. I scoffed at the idea of Wits and Wagers: Trivia Party [Free]. Can this highly social game work on an iPhone? Let’s break it down.
Wits and Wagers: Trivia Party delivers, in many ways, the same gameplay you would expect from the tabletop game. Each round you reveal a trivia question with a numerical answer, for example “In feet, how tall is the Eiffel Tower?” Each player then gives an answer hoping to get as close to the correct number without going over. Then players will wager, placing a large (worth two points) and small bet (worth one point) on the answer or answers they think are closest. The answer is revealed and points are awarded based on their wagers and for having submitted the most correct answer. Play continues this way for 7 rounds and the player with the highest score wins.
The app captures all of this, minus other players. Rather than go with asynchronous play (think Words with Friends), they have gone in a new direction: an AI system that reflects real players, even your friends. As you play the game a profile is built around how you answer and even some of your actual answers are saved. Other online players can then play against a proxy you and vice versa. If you connect with Facebook you can also play your friends (or rather an AI representing them) directly.
The game then becomes social but also solo. It is a strange feeling. Sure, it is AI, but is it really AI? The system works well and there are always new opponents to engage with. There just always seems to be this nagging feeling of loneliness. More social features are needed. The method of play is brilliant but I would love to see how I compare to other players. Leaderboards and similar features would go a long way to bringing back the social feeling to this game.
The game is polished and well done. Backflip Studios know how to make iOS games. Games, once loaded, flow quickly and easily. Since every answer is numeric, a simple keypad will be your main input device. There is in-game gold but is only earned by playing. The game does feature ads but these can be disabled by one purchase.
Wits and Wagers is an online only affair, which can be challenging. It allows you to get the latest information about the players you are facing, but it does limit how often the game can be played. Particularly in cellular networks, game load times can be of concern. We live in a mostly online all the time world, but there a times when connections are rough.
Wits and Wagers is a success in many ways. The unique AI system and quick gameplay really make the game stand out. It proves that a party game can work on a mobile device and is worth a look.
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