Impulsive Answers: A Preview of Knee Jerk

Knee Jerk

Sometimes the first thing that comes to mind isn't the most logical or reverent idea our brains can come up with. Wise individuals will think a bit longer before they blurt something out — but that kind of patient wisdom has no place in Knee Jerk, a new party game by Knapsack Games that rewards players for quick thinking! The publisher is currently seeking support on Kickstarter for this game, so be sure to check it out.

Gameplay

In this party game for 4 to 8 players, one player acts as the host for the whole game. The host places 2 cards on the table and draws 3 cards to add to his hand. He then chooses a card from his hand to complete a 3-card chain, which together form a scene that the other players will respond to. For instance, "I feel hopeful at the theme park because I remembered that..." or "I feel like I should call the cops on my family vacation because someone handed me...".

The other players then try to quickly shout out answers (or gestures, sounds, songs, etc.) to complete the scene. The first player to give an answer that makes sense is awarded the left-most card, which scores a point for that player. If multiple players give an answer, the host chooses his favorite.

The host then draws a new card from the deck, adds a card from his hand to the chain, and the game continues until one player scores a total of 3 or 4 points (depending on the number of players). This player is declared the winner and becomes the host of the next game.

Knee Jerk Cards

Review

Knee Jerk is a compact and light party game that is remarkably simple to learn. There are no boards, timers, markers or spinners to lug around — just a small deck of cards in a tuck box. The chaining mechanism is a brilliant way to make use of these cards, as each one contains 3 separate sections of a scene. When placed together with 2 other cards, the number of possible combinations is more than enough to play the game many times without any repetition.

The gameplay is fun and can produce some funny answers for situations that most people may have never thought of. The pressure to come up with an answer quickly causes players to say the first thing that comes to mind, which is really what drives most of the humor.

In our interpretation of the rules, the first player to give an answer that made any sense at all won the card each time, even if better answers were said afterward — however, we later learned that the true intention of the designer is to allow the host to choose from multiple answers if they are given within a few seconds of each other. In this case, it is up to the host to judge whether or not an answer was given quickly enough to be considered for a point. This is a good rule that rewards creativity, but we felt that a slight wording change in the rules would make this more clear to new players (this has been fixed — see the update below).

Some players may like to take more time to contemplate the perfect answer. We tested a variant of the game in which players were given a chance to think about their answers and present them to the host only when they were ready. We also had a lot of fun with this variant (which the publisher calls "The Perfect Ending") — it will be included in the final game if the stretch goal is met. This is a great option for people who are more introverted or who don't respond well to time pressure.

Final Thoughts

Knee Jerk is a fun little party game that many people will find enjoyable. It is compact and portable, making it playable almost anywhere — restaurants, campsites, classrooms, etc. If you like what you see, head over to Kickstarter to take a closer look.

Pros: Portable, interesting chaining mechanism, funny answers

Cons: Rules could be a bit more clear in the final version

UPDATE: The publisher has verified that the following rule clarification will be included: "If multiple players answer within a few seconds, the host chooses his/her favorite." instead of "If more than one player answers, the host may choose his favorite answer."

Disclosure: this preview is based on our evaluation of an unpublished prototype of the game, which is subject to change prior to publication. While a modest payment was received to expedite the review process, our thoughts and opinions expressed here are honest and accurate.