Review of If Only I Had...

If Only I Had...

Apples to Apples clones are everywhere, it's true (Snake Oil and Word Whimsy are some of our favorites). It's no secret that many serious gamers have grown tired of these types of games, but is there still room for them among casual gamers? Depending on the game, I think so. Today we are looking at If I Only Had..., a party game for 4 to 12 players in which players find themselves in dire situations and must choose between various items that would help them out the most.

Gameplay

In If I Only Had..., one player acts as the victim, who draws a scenario card and reads it aloud. Some examples of scenario cards include, "I'm broken down in the middle of nowhere," "I'm skydiving and my chute won't open," "I'm bored in an elevator," etc. Each of the other players chooses one of the four item cards in his hand that he believes would help the victim and places it face down on the table. Examples of item cards include "a zombie hand," "a piece of tin foil," "a broken flashlight," etc.

The victim then shuffles the item cards and chooses the one he likes best. The player who played this card scores a point. For the remaining cards, each of the other players is given an opportunity to defend his card choice by describing how it would be best for the situation. Based on each player's pitch, the victim then chooses an additional card. The player who played this card also scores a point.

The player to the right of the current victim then becomes the next victim and the game continues until one player reaches eight points. This player is declared the winner.

If Only I Had cards

Review

UPDATE 4/10/2014:  After writing this review, the publisher verified that there was a mix-up and we received an old edition of this game that is not supposed to be in circulation anymore. The image above has been reflected to show the newer (and not perfect, but much improved) design. Having not tested the new edition, I cannot speak to the card quality; however the publisher asserts that the new edition is of much higher quality than the version we tested.

First and foremost, the production quality of this game is terribly — I dare say laughably — bad. The image at the top of this post is apparently a newer version of the game than the one we received for evaluation — the background of the cover has the appearance of fish scales and the cards have black and white stick figure artwork. This game has the appearance of a prototype, but was provided to us as a finished product.

But what about the gameplay? I wanted to write this game off as having no merit, but we sat down and gave it an honest try in order to give it the benefit of the doubt. To my surprise, we were immediately laughing and enjoying ourselves. The humor of many of the scenarios and items actually struck a chord with us. We played it again with a different group of casual gamers, who also ended up liking the concept quite a bit. In essence, the game plays like a cross between Apples to Apples (where players match up people or items with adjectives) and Snake Oil (where players pitch products as if they were salesmen). I like the fact that the game gives each player the opportunity to defend his card choice — while this certainly can be done in other games, it feels a bit more complete to formally give each player a chance to do so in hopes of earning a point.

Many of the scenario and item cards are quite creative, but some of them are a bit boring. In addition, some of the item cards are really a stretch when trying to come up with a creative or funny use for them in certain scenarios. We felt like it would be great to have the ability to trade in your hand of cards for new ones, possibly by sacrificing one of your point cards. This would prevent a player from getting stuck with bad cards throughout the game. We also thought that supporting 12 players is too many, since the game will be drawn out way too long. Perhaps 8 players should be the maximum.

In its current state, I cannot recommend this game. It is essentially a prototype in early development that is screaming for a makeover from an experienced publisher to polish the cards, graphic design, and some of the rules. However, we did discover some fun in the gameplay, which gives it merit. We also like that it is family-friendly. If this game were professionally developed and published by a company who specializes in quality party games, I believe I could enjoy it and recommend it as a better alternative to Apples to Apples — I personally like the concept of hypothetical situations better than matching nouns and adjectives. For anyone who is tired of Apples to Apples type games, however, there isn't much to see here.

Pros: Family-friendly, the right combinations of scenario cards and items can be quite funny

Cons: Very poor production quality, could use more originality

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.