Equal and Opposite? I'm Not So Sure! - Tension Review

I like to hope that I'm not just reviewing staple games on this blog. I love games made for gamers, but I give respect to lightweight family games that most would overlook if they saw them in a store. They provide entertainment just as much as other games so they're usually worth a look - long as they aren't pub quiz games. . . . . . grrrrr, listen to my podcast, you'll see why! So here's one example from Xmas 2013.

"Everybody loves a Top 10 list"

Designer: Uncredited (1992)
Publisher: Cheatwell Games
# of Players: 2+ (even teams)
Ages: 10+
Play Time: 40+ minutes
BGG Rank/Rating: n/a/5.21
Dice Tower 2013 People’s Choice Rank: n/a
Category: Light Family Party Game

Working Under Pressure

The game is very simple. On a selection of cards there is a topic or subject matter with 10 items related to that topic. You work in even teams and on each turn, one team will read out the topic to the other team. They then have 60 seconds to blurt out as many suggestions relating to the topic as they can in the hope that they name the 10 items on the card. For example, the topic might be Simpsons Characters and the items might be Ned Flanders, Monty Burns, Comic Book Guy, etc.

Your piece then moves forward the same number of spaces as the correct items you guessed on the card. Occasionally you will have to nominate how many items you will guess and meet that limit or risk moving backwards, which adds a little twist as otherwise it would be the blandest board in history.

"To its credit, the insert for this game is perfect as a storage solution"

Leading A Short And Happy Life

There are two types of decks, kids and adults. It is assumed that the kids cards will be easy and that the adult cards will be harder. Now that isn't always the case. There are topics which can be really easy for anybody let alone an adult to get in the harder cards, but on the flip side, we've been stumped by some of the kid decks as they relate to topics that typically only a child would know, for e.g. Collectible Card Games. So there is an element of luck in the game as you can find that one team just gets lucky with the topics that come up, but hey, it's a party game, is Dixit any better for this?

Some topics have some sneaky items put in as well yet on others you get obvious choices which unbalances the cards a bit, but these usually don't make a significant different and each team usually has to put up with these.

However you can go through a lot of cards in a game and after only 5 plays, we've already gone through half of the cards in the game and then some. You are going to cycle through these cards quickly and there lies a big problem. Longevity. This is the family edition and there are only 2 decks for each difficulty. There is a master set with 6 more decks (3 for each difficulty) which claims to be compatible with this game but then you're having to fork out money for this, essentially like an expansion. Now for a game with more substance, that isn't a problem, but Tension can get repetitive and it likely won't take you very long to go through those decks either. You'll need to put this game down for a while to let your memory fade a bit, but it's surprising how much you can remember even after a long time has elapsed. If you've ever played Taboo, the party game, you'll know what I mean.

The House Rule Cometh
One glaring flaw in the game showed though when we discovered how effective the whirlwind spaces are on the board. The rule is that when you land on these spaces you advance forward the same amount of spaces that you scored on the card that round. Now surely you can tell already that this rule is so open to abuse it's not even funny. We had several occasions where people deliberately didn't answer any more clues on the card just so they would land on the whirlwind and gain a significant advantage.

So open to abuse was this rule, we house-ruled that the whirlwinds were replaced by "?" spaces. I don't know why the rule was included, it's not very well designed and they should have seen this problem coming.

In the end, this game is a simple party game that will entertain the family for a short while. You'll get your money's worth in terms of plays, but you are going to cycle through those decks quickly and unless you're willing to grab the master set, it will be a while until you forget what cards came up before so the game will start collecting dust until your memory fades.

Alternatively, just pass or sell the game on. It's cheap enough for a bit of harmless fun, so give it a try, just don't play it 5-10 times in quick succession and make sure you incorporate the house rule.