Updated: May 31, 2022
We featured the game Stupid Deaths (Paul Lamond/University Games) around three years ago on Board's Eye View. It felt very much like a party game adaptation of the BBC children's TV version of Horrible Histories. Death by Coconuts is a new game from Bubblegum Stuff that has much in common with Stupid Deaths, not least in its macabre subject matter, but its core mechanic is betting.
Designed by Matt Ludlow, Marty Pardoe, Roberto Rotaru and Courtney Wood, Death by Coconuts feels like Stupid Deaths meets Wits & Wagers (North Star). It's a race game for 2-4 players where players' movement along a track is determined by their success in betting on which of the three causes of death on display gives rise to the greatest number of fatalities. You need to read the small print tho' on each of the cards: some relate to the average number of deaths annually, others cite a specific period and/or locality; so, for example, 'Golf Carts' specifically refers to the number of deaths attributed to this cause in Florida, USA, from 2011-2019... Players each have three chips with which to back their choice, and they'll move forward along the track the number of spaces that corresponds to their bet. Bets aren't just one way, however: if you are wrong and one of the other two cards is the cause of more deaths, then you move back along the track by the number of chips you hazarded.
You can't go back further than the start, and there's another location on the track that represents a safe haven that puts a limit on how far back you can be pushed, so there are a couple of places (eg: the start of the game) where you've nothing to lose by going all in with a three-chip bet. For most of the game, tho', it may be wise to be more cautious in your betting if you're not reasonably sure of which choice to go for.
As in most trivia betting games, there's a temptation for some players to follow the leader and bet where other players have placed their chips. That's true here too but it's mitigated by the changing the first player each turn. And anyway the bluff and bluster of betting and bamboozling other players is very much part of the game.
As you race along the track, there are locations where you get to draw a Treasure Chest card. These are all favourable but vary in their effect from getting to peek at the number of deaths on one of the cards in the display to moving forward a number of spaces and moving an opponent back.
Death by Coconuts is live now on Kickstarter. Click here to check it out. Despite the dark theme, it's actually a light, fun family trivia game that also works as a party game. As you might guess, there are some stark surprises so, in playing the game, you're bound to learn something you didn't know before. If nothing else, you'll learn, for example, not to loiter beneath coconut trees: implausible as it sounds, death by coconuts is how 150 people a year meet their end!