Top Ten Quiz
- Designers: Julien Gupta, Johannes Berger
- Publisher: Chili Island
- Players: 4-14
- Age: 14+
- Time: 30 minutes
- Played with copy provided by publisher
Chili Island is a new imprint, one that focuses on family games – from the company page on BGG:
- Creative, communicative, and cooperative – are our games.
- Easy as pie – are the rules to our games.
- Artistic – are the cover and the game materials.
- Critical – are we about plastic, climate change, and discrimination.
I was given a set of three of their newest releases at GenCon 2022, and we gave them a try at a recent family reunion. Most of the players were not gamers, but I felt like this was the sort of audience that Chili Island is looking for.
Top Ten Quiz pits two teams against each other: “Try to gain as many points as possible with your team. You will achieve this by giving up to ten correct answers for each Top-Ten-Chart.” The game comes with 14 sets of 7 Top-Ten-Charts. In any particular game, you’ll only need one set of 7 cards.
The players separate themselves into two teams, one teal and one black. Each team gets a set of 10 bidding tiles and the three special tiles (seen in the color of the arrow on the tile). Each team picks a captain for this round (and this job will rotate with each round of the game). The lowest numbered victory tile remaining is placed on the table (they are numbered 1 to 7).
The two team captains reveal the next card in the set so that they can see the main question. The captains take their number tokens and place one facedown on the table – an estimation of the number of correct answers that their team will be able to provide for that question. The guesses are revealed, and the team with the highest estimation will be the active team. For ties, there is a tiebreaker tile which flips over each time it is used to break a tie.
The inactive captain now takes the card out of the box so that the answers can be seen (by the inactive captain only!) The ten number tiles are laid out on the table near the inactive captain. A timer is started (the game recommends 2 minutes, but you can use any previously agreed upon amount), and the active team starts making guesses/suggestions. The active team captain is not allowed to participate in the discussions with the rest of the team, but the captain is responsible for passing any answers made by his team to the other captain. When this happens, the inactive captain will flip over the number of the tile corresponding to the answer’s position on the list. As long as the guess is correct, the active team keeps going. If an incorrect answer is given, the active team’s turn will end unless the team expends one of their special tiles to continue guessing.
If the active team is able to come up with as many correct answers as their captain predicted, then the active team wins. If the active team either runs out of time or makes an incorrect guess and chooses not to use a special tile, the inactive team now has ten seconds to confer and make a single guess. If their guess is a correct answer, then the inactive team steals the round. If either team wins the round, they take the tile(s) on the table. If no one wins the round – when the active team can’t come up with enough right answers and the inactive team can’t steal it by providing one more correct answer – the victory tile remains on the table, and the next tile will be added to it for the next round, and the winner of the next round will collect all those tiles on the table.
At the end of 7 rounds, teams count up their points (i.e. the numbers on the tiles they have collected). Ties broken in favor of the team with more victory tiles if their points are equal.
My thoughts on the game
I’m generally on the fence about trivia games – as I’ve often found them to be polarizing and hard to balance amongst the teams. Top Ten Quiz does a pretty good job at allaying my fears by having a wide range of topics on the cards. Some of us might be good with sports, economics, fashion labels or geography – but it’s unlikely to be good at all of them. This is essentially an analog version of Family Feud – and it works well enough.
The game is family simple, and it takes maybe 2 minutes to teach it to people, but you might need to stick to the 14+ that the box suggests as the game requires actual knowledge which some younger children simply won’t have yet. If there are only non-gamers or illiterates around, there is a QR code on the cover of the rulebook to a rules video. The QR is also found on the box. I will say that of the three Chili Island games that I’ve played thus far, this one had the most complex rules, and a few of the non-gamers had a bit of a struggle with the game flow until we had a couple rounds down. If this happens to you, just have those people be near the end of the line to be team captain – and hopefully they’ll grok the game by the time they’re making all the decisions.
Like many trivia games, it is very important to know when the game was written. These cards were created in 2021, and as the rulebook even recognizes – the answers to some of the questions can change with time. They recommend using the answers on the cards as the “right” answers – though you could always update the answers with a Google Search (or a Bing search if you’re one of those people). It seems like it would have been easier just to add in the phrase “as of 2021” at the end of each question – and this would have solved any ambiguity going forward. Like Landern Toppern, it’ll be fine for a few years, and then you’ll likely have found another similar game to replace this with – because it might be hard to remember how the world was in 2021 to answer factual questions about stuff from that time.
The game, like all Chili Island games, focuses on communication – though I’d caution you that this one involves more sitting around than the others. First, the captain gets to make most of the decisions for the round – first the bid, and then if the active captain, deciding which answers seem correct (and then passing those answers onto the other captain). If you are the inactive team, you mostly spend 2 minutes listening to the other team make frenzied guesses (unless you are the inactive team captain that round). Then, if you get a chance to play, you only have ten seconds to try to come up with a correct answer to try to steal the round. It’s hard to do a lot of discussing on the inactive team while the other team is guessing as you don’t want them to overhear you and get a free answer…. So, you simply wait until you have your ten seconds. If the other team wins the opening bet repeatedly, that means that you and your team just do a lot of listening.
The components are great, and I love that the cards have their own little tuckboxes – which are great for both gameplay and storage. The cards are still shrink wrapped in cellophane; but otherwise, it’s all cardboard here, and reportedly this is made from recycled material. The geometric art for the cover is pleasing to my eye, and I must say that the graphic design for all the Chili Island games has been appealing to me.
There are enough cards for 14 full games here as well as some blank cards for you to make your own lists. While it certainly is true that you might remember some answers in a later game from a card you saw before; I think that if there were 14 games of Top Ten Quiz between repeats (so nearly 100 different lists), you’d be hard pressed to remember all of the answers.
We played this at a family reunion and had teams of 6 players each. As you would expect with a Family Feud style game, we pitted two different branches of the family against each other! This seemed to be a good number of players, and due to the wide selection of topics, most people had a chance to contribute over the course of the game. As you would expect, the levels of bids made is probably related in some degree to the size of your teams. It seemed that the family enjoyed it, and it gave us a great opportunity to spend time together; though I’ll admit that the other two Chili Island games we played got a better overall reception. If you group loves Family Feud or other trivia games, this might be the best choice amongst the Chili Island as it is the least “touchy-feely”.
Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers