I will admit this is a very difficult review for me to write. I, put it simply, don’t like quiz games. I’ve got nothing against them, it’s simply that they do nothing for me. Therefore to do this game any justice is going to be very difficult for me, but I’ll try.
Non-Trivial Quest is a game designed by Douglas Arduini, a now retired Electric Engineer from the USA with a vision to create an educational game since 1987. After retirement, he has been able to dedicate the time, energy and resources needed to finish the game that he came up with.
When you open the box, you are presented with a small but sturdy board in green and with a grid pattern on it. The game is for 2 to 8 players, so the grid is has 8 columns and 10 rows, which is the number of questions the players have to get right to win the game.
The rules can’t be simpler. Roll dice, pick a question and answer it. If you get it right, you advance, if you don’t get it right, you don’t advance. Answer 10 questions correctly before any other player and you win the game.
The current edition contains 300 questions specific to the USA, divided in 6 different sections. “Health & Nutrition”,”Money & Economics”, “Computers & Internet”, “Math, Science & Technology”, “Everyday Law, Civics & Sociology” and “History & Geography”.
The quality of the components is very good. The board is sturdy, and the glossy finish of the playing area is very nice indeed. Although it is a tad on the small side, it doesn’t need anything more elaborate due to the simplicity of the game itself. The cards are also quite strong and well printed, which is nice touch. The tokens for the players and the dice are also very well made and heavy enough to the touch to be handled easily and last for as long as the game will.
Now this game leaves me in a bit of a conundrum. On the one hand it leaves me cold. The rules are a too simple for me and it’s a quiz game… Not a good combination.
However this game has something unique and very interesting. The questions, although they’re not that many, are not just general knowledge, but they’re useful general knowledge. The questions come in the standard format of a question with 4 possible answers, but also they come with a description of the answer. While this might seem unnecessary, it is what gives this game a more educational and serious slant. It doesn’t have that many questions, but the ones that are there are actually useful and relevant questions.
The one thing I really can’t understand is the age range this game is aimed at. Starting at 14 years old, the market for this game is greatly reduced for no good reason. Quite frankly, the questions are not that tough, and that comes from someone with limited knowledge of the United States of America.
The truth is that if I were a teacher, I’d my pupils to use this game. The potential for debate and expansion on the responses provided is very refreshing and it will spark interesting and lively conversations. The fact that the questions are relevant to daily life in a productive way is also something to be commended.
True is, though, that 300 questions are not that many. Most other knowledge based games out there count questions in their thousands rather than their hundreds, so there is very stiff competition out there. However, Douglas did tell me that expansions for different countries and languages are in the pipeline, and those could turn this game into something quite special.
With extra rules coming out soon, new editions of the game with bigger and better boards also being considered and a price tag that makes it extremely affordable, this game will resonate with anyone who is interested in having an educational game that is neither pedantic nor useless.
Dare expand the age range to children over the age of 10 and you’ll have a terrific little family game that can be played very quickly.
Quite frankly, if you’re a teacher, buy this game. You won’t regret it.