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Fake That!

Brits of a certain age will remember the long-running BBC panel game show Call My Bluff, chaired in its heyday by Robert Robinson and, for much of its run, with Frank Muir as one of its team captains. The premise was that a team was given an obscure word from the dictionary and they'd deliver three definitions - usually elaborated with an implausible story - and the other team had to guess which of the three definitions was true. Studio H's Fake That! is essentially Call My Bluff in a box.

With Hervé Marly's game design, the game is notionally playable with 4-8 players, but the sweet spot is probably four or five players because, each round, only one player is guessing at the correct definition so all the other players are designated as 'experts' who are offering definitions from which this player (designated the 'gullible') has to choose. The game comes with a generous stock of 350 cards, each of which offers a question. The 'gullible' reads out the question then hands the card to the other players, all of whom are able to read the actual answer which is on the card's reverse side. They then in turn offer answers, as per most storytelling games, but just one of the answers should tie in with the true answer on the card - so if you're the last expert to give a definition and the others have all been fake, then you'll have to give the answer that's true.

The deduction process involves the 'gullible' eliminating the fake answers one by one. If your answer is correctly identified as fake, you put a score token into the kitty. At any point, the 'gullible' player can stop and just take the points in the kitty. If they keep going and mistakenly eliminate the truthful answer, then they forfeit whatever is in the kitty. If the 'gullible' has kept going and identified the correct answer, literally by a process of elimination, then that expert also has to contribute a point to the kitty before the 'gullible' takes all. The idea is that the game is played in rounds so that everyone gets two turns at being the 'gullible'. Players all have a token allowing them to double their score: so you can still be in with a shout of winning even if you've scored zilch in your first 'deduction'.

The push-your-luck scoring system maintains a party game tension beyond the 'answers' phase, and it seems tailor made for playing with higher player counts. On the other hand, playing with as many as seven people as 'experts' means that each round six people have to pull out of the air fake but at least vaguely convincing answers. That can be quite a tall order for a party game. In our Board's Eye View plays, Fake That! felt best with four experts - when we went above that number, it usually meant we had at least one answer that a player had very obviously struggled to contrive, and that's despite the fact that some of the cards suggest an idea for a fake answer. Of course, if you're playing with metagamers and/or consummate actors, you could find experts deliberately seeming to flounder in order to detract from their correct answer...

You can get a lot of enjoyment playing Fake That! with just four players: one player choosing between three answers, two of which are fake. Playing with this number tho' rather negates the push-your-luck deduction/scoring system set up in the rules. Mind you, if you're like us then you'll tend to play party games like this for the fun of the game without worrying overly about keeping score. Our one regret is that, unlike the BBC panel show, the game doesn't come with little boards with a flap that can be lifted to reveal the word 'Bluff'. We'll definitely be making our own to enhance our play!

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