Taejas Kudva, Play Unplugged
If your holiday is anything like mine, it’s a time for eating copious amounts of food and then sitting on every available living room space while watching movie marathons on TV with the “fam.” Now I loved “How to Train Your Dragon” as much as the next guy – perhaps a bit more than you might want to admit when you don’t have any kids – but you can only watch pompous Viking children bully Jay Baruchel’s pacifistic engineer-savant for so long before you choose to listen to the so-called adults’ conversation instead. That’s when you really need something to do.
Enter “FURT: A BEFUDDLING ERUPTION OF LAUGHTER.”
FURT is a great, light game for livening up an evening that is on the verge of devolving into a lethargic night of TV watching. It is a party game made by Wiggity Bang!, the producers of QUAO and Magic Feather and developers of Quelf, which became so popular that WB! chose to license and then ultimately sell the game to handle the large volume of demand. If you are familiar with WB!’s other games or with Quelf, you can probably guess at the ground that FURT covers.
This game is all about doing the wacky. FURT is a race through a series of goofy card-determined challenges to see who can be the first to sacrifice him/herself on the altar of humor by hurtling into the FURT volcano. End game requires the potential victor to keep a straight face while withstanding a name-calling, sound-making, joke-telling free-for-all. The number of times someone faltered at the gates of a Christmas victory is a testament to the atmosphere of hilarity the game creates.
Like all party games, one does need to buy in to the silly factor or else the game is a rather mechanics-light waste of time, but to quote the FURT rules, “if you do NOT like to laugh or do not have a sense of humor, we suggest you do NOT play FURT and instead go hide in a corner and weep.”
Let’s dive in.
Board set up is a quick and easy affair, mostly piling card stacks in the appropriate place for easy access, selecting a game piece, and drawing the Hot Spot Card that will be in effect for the game. Each turn is a die roll to tell you what color on the FURT Category Cards to follow.
Black: The Volcano Has Spoken
After reading aloud the fortune cookie wisdom from the Volcano’s point of view, simply move forward or back as dictated by the black section of the Category Card. You’ll be laughing at the Volcano’s pseudo-philosophy whether you’re sprinting ahead or stumbling back.
The section’s name says it all. Put on your flintiest game face, flip over the timer, and prepare to withstand a roundtable assault of non-sequiturs from your opponents. Keep a hard heart and still face to move ahead, or the opponent who turned your frown upside down will be advancing.
Green: Guess What?
Whether you’re playing Charades, Pictionary, or Taboo, there’s always somebody who complains that the task is outside their wheelhouse and they would do so much better with a different format. No excuses here, son. Draw a FUNNY WORD card from the mouth of the FURT Volcano and then pick your poison. You have until the timer runs out to get the Volcano’s point across.
Purple: Truth or Fiction?
You move forward by choosing a truthful or fictional finish to the sentence starter provided on the Category Card; the more people you fool, the more steps you move, though the opponents who guess correctly get a step forward as well.
Yellow: You Are?
The Category Card gives you a role to act out for 30 seconds, but several blanks must be filled with FUNNY WORD cards from the FURT Volcano to add a bit of random spice to your roleplaying. Move ahead when the timer says your task is complete.
Each Category Card has five color coded sections, but there are a few further wrinkles to consider. For instance, a die has six sides! What do you do when you roll blue? What were those Hot Spot cards? And shouldn’t there be a special FURT rule since the game is called FURT? (Okay, you caught me – I only said that last bit because there is a FURT rule…)
Blue WHAT THE?! Cards
Take a WHAT THE?! card to get your task. Shh! It’s a secret! Play moves on to the next player, and you keep the card until you have managed to accomplish your goal. Of course, in all your sneakiness and wisdom, you may move ahead before accomplishing your goal, but any opponent who suspects foul play (you did just draw a WHAT THE?! card, after all; they know that you’re trying to do something!) can challenge you to move back. They’re the ones who back track if you tricked them into thinking you didn’t finish your task when you actually did.
Hot Spot Cards
There are only eight Hot Spot Cards, but as mentioned during set up, there is only one selected for each game. It’s read aloud before the beginning of the game so everyone is aware of the challenge, and like the BullyQ cards in QUAO, represent a silly little rule that you must follow for as long as your pawn stays on a Hot Spot on the board. Anybody can call foul when they notice that you’ve forgotten the rule and back you up a space.
The FURT rule
Well, it’s really just rule #3 under HOW TO PLAY, but it should be called the FURT rule! I mean, you have to shout, “FURT!” Awesome! Oh, there is a reason, of course. Whenever you move your piece onto a space already occupied by an opponent’s, shout, “FURT!” before they do to avoid being sent back a space.
All of this brings our pawns circling around the board until someone reaches the FURT Volcano, at which point endgame begins. If the game has been going the way my games did, chances are the word “endgame” may be a little optimistic, and it could be replaced with the phrase, “a snowball’s chance at winning, but technically there’s a possibility.” Maybe that’s why WB! just decided to call it the Straight-Faced challenge instead.
+ Accessible, enjoyable party game for non-gamers and gamers
+ Plays well with 3-8 due to off-turn interaction
+ Easy, “disappear-into-the-background” rules
+ Everything focused on creating an atmosphere of silly fun
- Mood buy-in required; don’t play with curmudgeons
- Probably not a “play twice in one night” game
FURT is a party game and brings to the table all the fun that a party game implies. It’s easy to pull out for a group that was looking for something light and fun to do, even if that group is entirely made of non-gamers, and keeps everybody engaged in lighthearted competition that should make the next hour feel a lot quicker and a lot funnier. You can purchase FURT at your friendly local game store for the MSRP of $29.99.