Pointless - The Boardgame Review

31 May 2013

If you're not familiar with Pointless (£19.99), it's a general knowledge quiz game but with a novel twist. All the questions have previously been asked to a panel of 100 people who gave as many correct answers as they could think of.

The idea of the game is to guess the correct answer the fewest number of people got right, with the number that did being the score you take from that round. In other words, the idea is to score as few points as possible and where possible score a “Pointless” answer – one that nobody managed to get right.

For example, if the question is “Countries of the Commonwealth”, answering Australia will see you pick up the most points, 84, while go for the Seychelles, Sierra Leone or any of the seven other right answers no-one in the panel came up with and you've got yourself a Pointless round.

The biggest problem in translating the concept from TV show to board game is that Pointless is quite a complicated game in the first place, and that's reflected by the sheer number of individual components inside the box.

There are the question cards, which are quite large because of the number of answers most questions typically offer. In addition, the game has four rounds, each with its own pack of cards, adding up to 338 cards in total.

Then there's the board, which is just a four-player version of the barometer-style Pointless countdown counter used on TV.

Add to that answer sheets, pencils, a bunch of cardboard tokens for use in the game and various other bits and bobs and you could understand Pointless first-timers feeling a bit overwhelmed.

One touch that is well done is the inclusion of a Pointless trophy, a suitably worthless thin cardboard cut-out that's a nice tongue-in-cheek nod to a TV show that doesn't take itself too seriously.

On to the gameplay itself, and it largely follows the same pattern as on TV, with everyone getting to have a go at the same questions either as individuals or pairs, with the lowest accumulated scores picking up advantages going from round to round.

Even if you are familiar with the concept you'll spend a fair bit of time referring to the lengthy Rules of Play, but to be fair you quickly get the hang of things and shouldn't have to keep going back to it too much once you've played a few rounds.

You can play with two to four players or teams, with the number of rounds and who specifically asks each question working slightly differently depending on how many are playing. As with most games, the more people are involved the more fun it tends to be.

In practice, the only thing that did prove to be a problem was the fact that the answers and their scores for each question are printed on the same side of the question card as the question itself.

The game does come with question card sleeves you can pop the card into so the answers aren't visible, but you still have to pick the card from the pack and place it inside, and until you've done so the question and answers lie in full view until that point.

It's made all the worse by the fact that from round two onwards the person reading the question also participates in writing an answer down. Unless you're a particularly trusting lot you might find the best way to avoid suspicion and accusations is to hand over question-reading duties to someone not actually playing the game.

grumble aside, Pointless the board game is about as decent a translation of the TV show you could probably get. The drama and suspense elements are retained, and the fundamentals of the game are kept intact.

As with most of these things, if you like the TV version you'll probably enjoy the board game too, while if it's your first taste of Pointless, the originality of the concept makes it well worth looking at.

The Good

The game is a lot of fun

It's pretty interesting to match your own knowledge that of 'the panel'. You don't always know as much or as little as you might think you do

The Bad

It's a little complicated, and takes some getting used to.

There are lots of components!

The Verdict

There's a lot of fun to be had with this game. If you can get past the initial figuring it out, it's good for a few rounds of play. I would recommend watching an episode or two on TV to help you get familiar with the concept, but it’s great fun, and you’ll enjoy it, I’m sure!

What do you think?

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