Game Night: Wise and Otherwise

This post is part of the Game Night Blog Carnival.  We do this on the last Tuesday of every month with a group of other RPG bloggers.  For a list of all the blogs participating, or to add your own blog to the carnival, click here.

I have fond memories of playing Balderdash in high school.  We never took the game seriously, though.  A group of us would get together, and try to come up with the funniest and most outrageous word definitions possible.  There was no strategy, or even trying to win. I don’t think we kept score.  The only object was laughter and outrageousness. 

If you’re not familiar with Balderdash, it’s a game in which the group of players is given a word that no one has heard of, and everyone secretly comes up with a definition on a piece of paper.  One person writes the real definition, and when all the definitions are read, players score points for picking out the real one, as well as for having their fake definition picked.

“But wait,” you say at this point, “I thought this was a review of Wise and Otherwise.”  True enough.  I bring up Balderdash because Wise and Otherwise is Balderdash’s fun-er sister; if you know how to play Balderdash, you will be able to pick up Wise and Otherwise in under a minute.  Really.

So how does this Wise and Otherwise game work? Everyone is given a slip of paper, and one person is picked as the judge.  The judge pulls a card out of the box, and picks a proverb from the card.  On one side of the card is the beginning of the proverb: “There’s an old Ethopian saying, If you take a squirrel out of water…”  The players copy the beginning of the proverb, and then try and finish it in the most convincing way possible.  The judge flips over the card for the remainder of the real proverb (“…he will devise a plot against you.” True story), and copies that onto his slip of paper.  All the slips are turned in, and the judge reads the completed proverbs out loud to the group.  Players then try to pick out the real saying from among the fakes.  Choosing the real proverb scores points, as well as when another player picks your fake saying as the real one.  The judge scores points if no one picks the real saying.  The round is then over, and the role of judge passes to the next player.  First player to 20 points wins.

If you know Balderdash, you see the similarity.  Now let me highlight the differences.  Or, I guess, difference.  This game is fun, even for people who don’t like Balderdash.  You see, for many people,  Balderdash requires too much creative effort to make the game truly fun.  Coming up with a word’s definition that sounds convincing is kind of hard.  I think that may be why, as a teenager, we had fun just goofing off with the game.  It was more fun to be silly than it was to try and come up with a believable definition.  Wise and Otherwise taps into that “silliness” factor, and makes it a part of the game –  most of the sayings and proverbs leave players laughing, asking, “that was the right one?” to the point where the more ridiculous endings tend to get more votes.  Also, there is less creative “work” involved in finishing a sentence than there is in coming up with a definition.  The proverbs give players enough to work with, so turns don’t take forever as people gnaw on the ends of their pencils, wracking their brains.

All that to say, this is a fun game that gets everyone laughing.  Even if you don’t like Balderdash, don’t be turned off by the similarities – pick this one up.  You will be pleasantly surprised.

  • Game: Wise and Otherwise (Out of print, but Amazon lists some reasonably priced used copies)
  • Type: Party game
  • Number of Players: Pawns support up to 6 players, though you can play with more if you’re willing to use other objects for pawns.
  • Time: Approx 45 minutes

Check out the other articles in the blog carnival!

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4 Responses to Game Night: Wise and Otherwise

  1. Pingback: Game Night Blog Carnival: Jenga | The Id DM

  2. Justin says:

    Awesome, I have seen this game many times, but i have never gotten around to playing it. I think next time i get the chance i will get this and add it to my collection of “party” games along with apples to apples, and now also Jenga

  3. Balderdash is one of my favorite party games. More recent versions of it actually include a mix of categories in addition to the definitions (people, movies, strange laws, and initials) with a roll determining which category is used from the card. Using the categories offer an experience that sounds pretty close to Wise and Otherwise. The laws are even structured as the first half of sentences like the proverbs: “In Texas, a person cannot go barefoot without…” for instance.

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