Holiday season is over, but the good memories remain. I come from a big family, and for years we have entertained ourselves with playing party games and card games as we get together in the weeks leading up to and following Christmas, and this season was no different. This tradition of playing games at family get-togethers long predates my love affair with the modern board games. Epic games of Trivial Pursuit or Balderdash or Pit sitting in front of the fireplace in the house that I grew up take up a lot of my memories of holidays past.
We usually rotate houses for the Christmas night festivities. But with seven children in my immediate family (and five in my wife’s family), it is not often that I get to play host. That changed this year, as for the first time in a long time, we hosted our family’s get together on Christmas night after my brothers and sisters made their traditional passes to in-law’s celebrations that morning.
Christmas day always starts with a quiet house in the early morning. My wife and I are usually the first to get up, and with the unusually bitter cold temps we hit this year, it was nice to visit with her by the fire in our Grogu-in-an-elf-hat themed pajamas. Next up was lunch with all of my mom’s sisters and their families. I always bring a game with me, but we are so busy laughing and visiting that nothing ever gets played.
And then, the anticipation finally ends as we arrive at Chez Gumbo for the big afternoon celebration. I have friends who text me bemoaning that their family is not into playing board games or party games, even on holidays. So each Christmas I always give a silent thank you to growing up in a family that cherishes communal play.
Some years I struggle with what game to teach, but not in 2022. After enjoying this game with Grant Lyon from Grant’s Game Recs and the Board Boys podcast at BGG Con 2022, I knew there was only one right answer as to which game to break out with the family on Christmas day. (Foreshadowing?)
Green Team Wins is a 2022 party game published by 25th Century Games and designed by Nathan Thornton of Medium fame. This game is so simple to play and teach. Players are competing for the most points over 15 rounds by answering three types of questions. The twist? It’s not a trivia game, but instead a game that forces you to confront the group think that emerges around universally debated topics like whether to roll or squeeze the toothpaste.
If your answer matches the majority of the group, congratulations! You’re on the Green Team and score a point. If you were already on the green team because you answered the previous question and matched the majority, congratulations! You remain on Team Green and score TWO points.
And if your answer was brilliant, insightful, intelligent, and/or funny, but didn’t match the majority of the group, congratulations! You are a brilliant, insightful, intelligent, and/or funny member of Team Orange.
But you don’t score a point.
That’s the game. I think it’s best if you have a fun moderator, pushing the group along, who can dramatically read the questions in game show style. At BGG Con 2022, we were lucky enough to have Grant, a professional comic who has been a guest on Gumbo Live! in the past, keep the discussion going with funny quips and lively banter. For Christmas, while I’m certainly no Grant Lyon, I took on the role of keeping 18-20 players focused on the questions even while the room roiled with one-liners and comebacks.
18-20? But the BGG page says in a very official voice “3-12, best 7-9-11”?
That’s one of the other beauties of the elegant design of Green Team Wins. The comes equipped for twelve players with erasable boards and matching markers, and the boards are ingenious in their simplicity. There is plenty of space to write out a funny answer (or draw out your answer for added hilarity) and handy-dandy checkboxes to keep track of your score.
But there’s no prohibition in the rules against teaming up. Spouses can be partners in the game. Or moms and daughters. Little ones can join in — if the group isn’t too randy — with help from aunts and uncles. Play as many people as you want. Grant says he has played with as much as 25 people.
Take my word for it, playing with a larger group is not going to be an issue. And that’s because of the way the questions are designed. I told you that the game comes with boards and markers, but it also has a giant stack of cards in the box. Each card has one of three types of questions: Fill In The Blank, Best of Three, or This or That. Each type is that simple to understand, but know that the “fill in the blank” ones might be the rowdiest, depending on the crowd.
The moderator will shuffle five of each of the types into a little deck (although you can play as many or as few as your group wants.) We found that 15 rounds is the perfect length for a large group — just enough to get a few people on the orange team but still in the lead, and short enough not to overstay its welcome.
At the end of the fifteen rounds, you will (a) count up the scores; (b) declare a winner; and (c) sit back and smile with satisfaction as your group debates the answers to life’s little questions for the next hour over a cold can of Riverboat Razz or two.
This is one of those games that feels like it should have been designed before. It takes a very simple concept: what is your play group’s answer to 15 temporal questions? It adds on just a tiny bit of gamification with the “orange team” and “green team” tile concept. And it takes a big old jambalaya cook-off paddle to the entire concoction and mixes it around until by question three or four, everyone is debating and laughing at the same time.
The cacophony of good vibes and playful ribbing from Christmas night is still ingrained in my mind days later. Just thinking about this past family get together reminds me of my cherished memories of my dad playing Balderdash or Charades with us, a Cheshire cat grin spread wide on his face when he said something clever.
Green Team Wins is winner and a game I’ll probably be giving out as gifts for years to come. It’s the best party game I’ve played this past year.
Until next time, laissez les bon temps rouler!
— BJ from Board Game Gumbo
A complimentary copy of some promo cards were provided by the publisher, but we purchased the main game.