Board Game Night - Schmovie

Number of players: 4-15 (best: 8-10)
Playing time: 35 minutes
By: Sara Farber, Bryan Wilson /  Galactic Sneeze
Rank on BoardGameGeek: 8896th

One game genre haven't yet touched on is the party game. It's certainly an important one, and covers everything from charades to Taboo to Cards Against Humanity. Party games don't usually have a board, and can be played as individuals or most often in teams, and have an important social interaction component. That last example, and the less obviously crass Apples to Apples, are also part of a subgenre that requires players to vote on a "best answer". There are many of these - vote on the best match between concepts, on the filthiest answer, on the best recipe, the best invention... and the best movie title. That last one is Schmovie, is it's the one I'm going to hold up as an example.

When it's your turn to be the judge (or Producer), you flip two cards and roll a die. You combine the What and Who cards into a simple movie premise. "hipster" "show dog", for example, or "lactose-intolerant" "chef", then roll a special die that will determine the movie's genre. Then the players write down a movie title that fits those elements and the Producer picks his or her favorite, giving an award to that player. Then the next player becomes Producer and so on. The player with the most trophies at the end wins. It's that simple (but see House Rules below for how to make it a little deeper).
The idea of "pitching" ideas to a cynical Hollywood Producer is well enough realized, but if we're that early in the process, then the awards are are a bit precipitate, aren't they? And what's with the statues being squids? (Sorry, Schquids... because the game annoyingly puts "sh" in front of everything as if that were a good joke.) The answer in their FAQ is simply that schquids love schmovies! I appreciate the whimsy, but that's hardly an answer.

Obviously, you could put words into a hat and play this without the box. What do you get if you do buy the game? Two packs of smallish cards, nothing to write home about there, but if you wanted to, you get small dry-erase boards with a SMT3K audience at the bottom and examples for less imaginative players on the back. Erasable felt pens. And cardboard standee squid awards, each notably different as if representing different movie genres or subgenres (with a different front and back). A lot of love has gone into designing these things, which makes me wonder if the idea of marketing the game didn't start with that somehow. I appreciate the effort, even if they're hardly necessary to play the game.
House Rules and Expansions
I can believe a normal game lasts about 35 minutes, but we busted that three times over by pitching movie plots that went with our movie titles. I play with people who are essentially story tellers, so a title was hardly enough. While it makes the game more interesting, you should set a time limit and not play through the entire stash of squids, because this short filler will eat up the whole night and leave you a little empty at the end. Playing again, I would certainly consider making the different squids a stronger part of the game. For example, how about doing away with the genre dice and pulling a random squid from a bag, then competing for that squid by coming up with a movie of the genre it represents (a pirate picture, a ninja flick, a rock opera, an office comedy, etc.). Or don't ditch the dice, just add that supplemental condition to the movie. Or add a round, with finalists having to change their movie pitch to include the supplemental condition when the Producer invariably asks "sure ok, but what if there were a ninja in it?" (classic). It seems like these little guys have too much wasted flavor.

In conclusion: A puff piece with some absurd design elements, but amusing enough, especially for movie fans. As far as voting games go, I'd rather play this than the generic Apples to Apples or the rude Cards Against Humanity, but it's not necessarily deeper than, say, The Big Idea or Chef Cuckoo.



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