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Sounds Fishy

No, this isn't a satirical game about British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak!

When the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) launched a new TV channel - BBC2 - in the mid-1960s, it was a major event: up till that time, the UK had had only two channels (BBC - renamed BBC1 - and ITV). Programming on BBC2 was intended to be distinct from the more mainstream BBC1 and so tended to be relatively cerebral. When the decision was taken to add a quiz show to the schedules, the search went out for something that was different to the populist fare broadcast on BBC1 or ITV. BBC executives came upon a format that had been tried in the USA where it had flopped miserably, but on BBC2 Call My Bluff proved to be a popular staple, running for nearly 550 episodes over almost a quarter of a century (and later resurrected for another 550 episodes in a slot on BBC1). The idea was simple: there were two teams of three (a regular captain and two visiting celebrities on each) and the teams would take it in turns to offer the other team three different definitions of a highly obscure word. Only one of the definitions would be correct, and wrong guesses would invariably involve the panellist gleefully lifting a flap to reveal the word 'Bluff'.

Rob Piesse's Sounds Fishy is essentially a board game version of Call My Bluff. Instead of teams, it's a party game for 4-10 players where each takes a turn as the guesser and all the other players offer answers for the guesser to choose between. Other than the guesser, the players will all have been dealt a cardboard fish. They'll peak at their fish to see whether it is a 'Red Herring' or the one 'Blue Kipper'. The guesser draws a card from the caddy so that they can see only the question while all the other players can see the reverse that shows both the question and the correct answer. The player with the Blue Kipper has to give the true answer to the question on the card while the others offer fake answers.

The guesser then tries to eliminate the fake answers, scoring a point for each 'Red Herring' they pick. They can stop at any time and bank their points but if they choose the 'Blue Kipper' correct answer while there are any Red Herrings remaining then they lose any points they've scored this turn. This then adds a push-your-luck element where several players have come up with equally plausible answers. The Red Herring players score a point if their answer doesn't get selected as it means they've fooled the guesser, and the Blue Kipper player gets a point for all Red Kippers not selected on that turn.

It's a simple idea and it's well executed by Big Potato with the chunky cardboard fishes and a good stock of question cards that's localised so it's appropriate for its market. The Board's Eye View team have had a lot of fun playing Sounds Fishy, especially at higher player counts. We found as players got into the game they increasingly embroidered their answers with back up stories to add to their plausibility or, in the case of the Blue Kipper, to make the answer sound less likely to be true. We only wish the package included 'Bluff' cards with flaps we could slowly lift. Indeed, so fond is our memory of Call My Bluff that we couldn't resist adding our own.

(Review by Selwyn Ward)

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