Updated: May 12, 2021
As we come out of Covid lockdown, we're looking forward to finally having more opportunity to gather together in larger groups to play more party games. Tho' many party games are playable with the members of your nuclear family, most are at their best with higher player counts, and preferably played after or during a few drinks. Case in point, the quite literally inventive What the What?! from Well Why Not Media.
What the What?! is a storytelling game where players take turns as an 'Investor' choosing between the pitches offered by the other players. It's a familiar mechanic; used, for example, in Snake Oil (Hasbro) and Funemployed (IronWall/Mattel). What's different in What the What?!, is that the game draws on real, if often bizarre, inventions - so adding extra ways of playing.
What comes in the chunky What the What?! box is a stack of >80 large format (6 x 4 inch) cards. These have an illustration of an invention on one side and a description of the actual invention on the other. For each round, the player taking a turn as the Investor, draws the top invention card and displays it so that all the other players can see the illustration but not the details on the reverse. The other players then pitch their invention to go with the picture.
What the What?! gives players pretty wide latitude over their pitches. You can make up your own pitch or you can use one of the 10 prompt cards players are dealt: the game comes with a very generous stack of >300 prompt pitch cards so that even the most shy or uninventive can join in to play. The prompts too vary from the serious to the whimsical, and unlike other similar storytelling games none appear to be gratuitously offensive or NSFW (Not Safe For Work). Of course, there's nothing stopping raucous players from coming up with their own more risqué pitches...
After all the players have offered their pitch, the Investor chooses the most 'impressive' pitch. It's up to the Investor whether they interpret 'impressive' to mean funny, creative or informative, tho' the recommended scoring suggests giving a bonus point to the player whose pitch comes closest to the real intention of the invention. In our Board's Eye View plays we invariably gravitated towards funniest pitch. That said, like most good party games, you'll probably not be overly worried about score-keeping.
As with all pitching/storytelling games, what you get out of What the What?! depends on what you put in: the more players throw themselves into the game, the more fun you will all find it. The rules suggest a player count of 3-10 but this game is at its best with at least 6 players. There's no real upper limit on numbers other than the risk of the game going on for too long, which would be the case if you decided to play with 20 and insisted on everyone taking a turn as the Investor.
And we said the game offered alternate ways of playing. You can, of course, play Funemployed-style, only using pitches that tie in with those on your cards. If scoring, you can offer a bonus for the 'best' name for the device and, because the Investor has the details of what the invention really is, you can play What is What?! as a 20 Questions game where players are quizzing the Investor to try to be the first to correctly identify the invention.
With What the What?!, Stacy Katz has come up with an inventive addition to the party game genre. What the What?! is due to go live on Kickstarter today. Click here to check out the campaign.