We Had an Inkling

Recently I had a chance to try the boardgame Inklings from Cactus Game Design with friends from church.

It’s a Bible trivia game for two or more teams of 2-3 players per team. The basic mechanic is simple – the team whose turn it is gets six clues, one at a time, to identify the subject, be it a person, city, number or book of the Bible. If they guess correctly in one clue they get 6 points, if in two clues 5 points, etc. A wrong guess ends their turn with zero points. The early clues tend to be more obscure and the latter more obvious with the final 1-point clue being a multiple-choice. The team that scores 55 points first wins.

There is a spin-wheel and event deck which can throw a twist into how a turn is conducted, giving bonus points, canceling your turn or an opponent’s turn, gaining another turn, allowing other teams a chance to guess your subject, and other such game devices. In a game between balanced teams, these twists can be decisive, but the heart of the game is knowledge of the Bible, or rather Bible demographics.

Most of us read the Bible primarily for the principles it teaches, and secondarily for the historic narrative, so that’s what we remember. Demographics is not at the forefront of memory, so this game is challenging even if you’ve read the Bible many times. Our group had the most success with the who category first, and books of the Bible second. Success with the city category was dicey as some of the cities were very obscure. Surprisingly, numbers proved the hardest, as we all tended to remember ballpark rather than exact figures. In one humorous occurrence, a team got through the fifth clue with one of the players saying “it’s either 2 or 3.” They asked for the sixth clue, which is always multiple choice and usually a give-away, but the choices they got were “1, 2 or 3″. [The team guessed wrong].

As a trivia game and social game, Inklings works well enough. As a test of Bible knowledge, it tends to leave everyone thinking “I need to know the Bible better”, but in a gracious way, as nobody is really embarrassed to be stumped by demographics.

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