Using your hands as a megaphone, please stand up, march in place and say the following statement without laughing and in a very slow but extremely loud voice: "Attention people. Your attention please! I am sleepwalking and I will not stop until I find my swimming goggles. Hey you, I smell a partridge! Flee, alien keeper of lumpy delight! The Winter is mine." You may sit down now.
You have the option of either engaging in this act of ridiculousness or paying the penalty, which on this card is pretty stiff. If you decline because you're too cool for school, you must move back three spaces. You should think about it before you decide, though, because on a board game with only 30 spaces from start to finish, three could be the difference between winning and losing.
The name of the game is Quelf, created in San Diego by Wiggity Bang Games. Wiggity Bang is the product of three local college buddies, Matthew Rivaldi, Robb Earnest and Jeremy Fifer. After working on the game on weekends for the last two and a half years, the boys launched Quelf (available only online for now at www.quelf.com) hoping to bring what Rivaldi describes as "insanity unleashed" to retail stores soon.
Rivaldi, a freelance graphic designer and marketing strategist by day, said it's hard to describe the game any further. He did, however, choose "Random has a New Name" as the game's slogan. It's definitely random, but a better description for those deep in the board game culture might be "Cranium on Crack."
Like Cranium, seven years Quelf's senior, the game requires-nay, demands-its players act like total jackasses. Cranium became one of the best-selling board games in America based on this sort of foolishness, and Rivaldi and the others have taken the idea a few big steps further. "Robb and Jeremy are the funny guys," Rivaldi said. "A lot of times they'd just go way too far."
The trio, each in his early 30s, recently tested the game with college students from up and down California to learn what would fly and what was way too far beyond left field.
"We wanted something wacky," Rivaldi said, adding that they tried to stay away from things that were too outrageous.
But what Rivaldi and the others deem reasonable might still seem too outrageous to others. For those lacking a severe competitive streak, the game could become a series of backwards moves, because, for some, passing might be a more desirable choice over, say, tying an old pair of tennis shoes around your neck and leaving it there for the remainder of the game.
The game consists of a simple yet colorful board, a timer, a die and five different colored and categorized cards. The blue cards are "Roolz," the yellow "Stuntz," the purple "Showbiz," the green "Quizzle" and the red "Scatterbrainz."
If you roll the die and land on a green space, you have to answer a bizarre trivia question, such as "What was Marilyn Monroe's bra size?" (In case you're wondering-and I know you are-it was 36D, but the card instructs the player to move ahead four spaces only if the player answers the question correctly and the player has a bra size of 36D or more.)
If you land on a red space, you get to pick one of two categories and then you must go around the group and list things that pertain to the chosen topic. Play goes on until someone repeats something or simply sits dumbfounded.
The Showbiz, Stuntz and Roolz cards a bit more complicated. Showbiz cards instruct the player to act something out for the duration of the timer. It's always something embarrassing. The Stuntz cards sometimes give the players options: (1) Do 10 pushups (2) Do 20 jumping jacks (3) Find a bucket, bowl, helmet, or some other similar item, put it on your head, and bang on it with a spoon while saying "Hey Bobby! Bob's not here." For the Roolz cards, either the player or the entire group must adhere to what the card instructs. Some of the rules last for the entire game and others last for only the duration of the player's turn.
While playing Quelf for this story, the first card drawn happened to be a Roolz card instructing everyone to draw a bull's-eye on a piece of paper and tape it somewhere on their clothing. If any player was caught looking at any of the bull's eyes, that player had to pay the penalty of one space backwards. Not looking was harder than one might think, and people were getting creative with the placement of the bull's eyes. At one point, one of the players taped the bull's-eye to her crotch, stood up right in the middle of play and pulled down her pants. Needless to say, everyone looked and was forced to pay the penalty.
Perhaps to grab the Internet fantasy-game player's attention, Quelf is made complete by its characters, or "cast" as the Wiggity boys call them-The Platypus, Mr. Lugnut, Super Ninja Monkey, The Dude, The Biscuit Farmer, Queen Spatula, Batbileg Chinzorig and Mrs. Pickle Feather. Each has an interesting back-story on the outside of the box as well as weird quotes at the bottom of each of the playing cards.It's all just so strange, but to Rivaldi it makes perfect sense. He said the word "Quelf" came from a made-up game the other two creators used to play in church, the object being to get the other person to laugh. Therefore, Rivaldi explained, Quelf has come to mean "anything that's so random or funny that you can't help but laugh."
Everybody's doin' it
The Whistle Stop Bar in South Park is a pretty hip and happening place, so you know when there's board game playing going on there, there must be some kind of impending trend. The night's called "Friends Chill" and it happens every Tuesday. People meet up to booze and play games like Candyland, Connect 4 or even Operation (which is harder than you think, especially when you've had a few).
The Wit's End in Hillcrest is another place to get your board game fix. Along with food and drink, The Wit's End hooks its patrons up with a huge stack of games, like Jenga and Monopoly.
And for those more interested in the games than the booze, there's a more serious group of gamers online. They're called the San Diego Boardgamers, and as of this week they have 93 members. Founded in October of 2002, the group has had 35 game events so far and they're planning more. Interested? Visit www.boardgames.meetup.com.