The Closet Report: Choose One

Choose One

"I think being funny is not anyone's first choice."  Woody Allen

I am Jonathan Albin, the Game Market Guru, and this, the fourth of my entries as "The Closet Report," is a part of my in-depth and detailed analysis of tabletop games of every stripe. The Closet Report captures and outlines the merits, values, and details about these games in terms that a casual player or a die-hard veteran will appreciate, providing not only the "straight skinny" on the product in terms of the big 3 (Class, Character, and Creativity) but also in terms of Materials, Marketing, and Mechanics, as well as identifying areas of imagination, innovation, and ingenuity.

Our attention this time turns on a new party/icebreaker game from Looney Labs, called Choose One!. This easy-to-play, easy to understand game of matching wits precisely presents the players with a refreshingly antidote to the high-competition fare most companies seem to be offering.

Overview

Setting up to play is about as basic as you can get, and the process of play is nearly so. Each player is provided two Choice cards, one blue, one white. The Reader (which each player will be in turn during the game) also has two of these Choice cards. The object of each round is for the players to match the reader’s choice of a two-sided dilemma. It really is that simple.

One player is the Chooser. They pick a Topic card from their hand and present it to the group. Then everyone else tries to figure out which of the two options the Chooser will choose. Everyone, including the Chooser, indicates their answer by holding out either their blue or their white Choice card, face down. When everyone has made their decision, all cards are revealed. If nobody chooses the Chooser's choice, then the Chooser gets two points. If any players do choose correctly, then those players and the Chooser get one point, but if everyone chooses the Chooser’s choice, nobody gets a point. Tokens are moved along the scoring board accordingly, and the role of Chooser passes to the next player.  The first player to the Winner's circle (11 points) wins! Easier than it sounds, when I put it that way.

The topic cards are fun and inventive, and several blank cards are included, for the owner to customize the game experience with a few choice choices they choose… (there I go again!)

As a party game, there is no established Organized Play program for it, although I can see the possibility of various retailer-supported teams choosing Choose One! as a game to organize around.

The game is readily available through many hobby retail stores, particularly those that carry classic, collectable, and family titles. It is currently available through most hobby distributors, or from Looney Labs’ website. It is priced at $30, a bit above the "sweet spot" of $20, but well worth every penny.

Below are the somewhat wonky, somewhat useful characteristics the Closet Report reveals about the product, and of its game play.

Statistics

  • Total Time to Play – TTP: 22:00
    Total time including OBT, PT, and BIB.
  • Out of the Box Time – OBT: 1:00
    Time to open the box and set up pieces for the game.
  • Play Time – PT: 20:00 (could be longer, with players who struggle to choose a Topic Card).
    Time from beginning of game to resolution, i.e., winner, draw, or quit.
  • Back in Box Time – BIB: 1:00
    Time required to put game back in the box configuration and return to the closet.
  • Time Per Turn – T/T: 30 seconds to 1 minute. The only delays were choosing which Topic card to play.
  • Turns per Game – TPG: 13 or more
    Number of turns in an average game.
  • Turns to Engagement – TTE: Immediate
    Number of turns before players must interact. Party games and icebreakers are particularly engaging, so the competition starts as soon as the game begins.
  • Fun Per Turn – FPT: 95%
    Indicates how much enjoyment is to be derived from any given Turn of the game. The strategy — choosing a Topic to allow certain players to advance while thwarting another — only presented itself late into the third game, so there was a little challenge (toughness) in the last moments of our final game.
  • Work per Turn – WPT: 5%
    Represents the rough percentage of the turn that feels like "work." As noted, the only work exerted was when players began using what they knew of each other to attempt to stymie the players who were winning, while allowing others to score.
  • Turns Before Fun – TBF: 0
    The number of turns that must elapse before engagement with the other players occurs. Party games are intended to cause players to interact, and Choose One! is no different.
  • Self-teaching time – STT: 1:00
    The time it takes to learn the game by only reading the rules with no demonstration. The scoring portion was the only part that slowed some players down. Once we had that handled, the game was a breeze.
  • Closet Time – CT: 1-2 weeks, or until the next game session.
    Average length of time between plays. This one was immediately added to our rotation. I imagine we will play this game until the blue sides of the cards turn white…

Play Ratings

Numerical ratings from 1 to 10 on various aspects of the game. See each for a scalar definition.

  • Aggression (categorizes the rules by oppositional dynamics)
    Scale from cooperative (1) to stridently adversarial (10) – Score: 3
  • Beauty (categorizes the rules by sheer aesthetics; is it “pretty”?)
    Scale from functional (1) to art gallery quality (10) – Score: 3
  • Complexity (categorizes the rules by how easy or difficult to comprehend)
    Scale from expected (1) to intricate beyond comprehension (10) Score: 2
  • Depth (categorizes the rules in terms of subtlety)
    Scale from shallow (1) to unbelievably nuanced (10) – Score: 6
  • Engagement (categorizes the rules in terms of player interaction)
    Scale from parallel play (1) to strong need for teamwork (10) Score: 6
  • Fun (categorizes the rules in terms sheer derived pleasure)
    Scale from mildly amusing (1) to fall on the floor laughing (10) – Score: 8
  • Innovations Quotient (IQ) (identifies any characteristics that make the game unique)
    Numeric rating, and each “point” is defined that make this product memorable – Score: 7
    The innovation in this case is the cleverness of the scoring, such that serious scorekeepers have difficulty choosing Topics, as they close in on a winner. It was refreshing to see players who just chose and then guessed at the other player’s choices were evenly matched with the sophisticates who tried to micro-manage the scoring process, and were just as likely to get all to agree.

Miscellaneous

Breakout Events are the times and circumstances where this game may shorten its Closet Time, or otherwise help it "break out" of the closet.

  • Choose One! is absolutely the perfect travel game, as often we find ourselves with people we know little about, and this game brings people closer together. They have no "Choice!"

Shelf Rating is the overall game shelf rating, when compared with every other game in the closet. Scores will vary as new games come into being, and based on other characteristics such as marketing and promotions of similar games.

  • Choose One is a game that is front and center, and its package size is perfect to tuck into that overnight bag. Perhaps the only drawback is its higher price than most games in this category, but the game time derived from it is well worth the investment. This belongs in every game closet.