The Jackbox Party Pack is easily one of the best $25 you can spend this holiday season, especially if you’ll be entertaining a houseful of family and/or friends. That being said, it’s also mired down by a couple rocks that keep it from soaring (I’m looking at you, Word Spud). Even still, considering that each of the six games in the set retail for ~$6.99, getting the whole shebang for $20 isn’t too shabby.
What’s better is that most of the games are either fully explained each go ’round, or are easy enough to explain to people in a couple sentences during the loading sequences. Add to that, each title features integration via mobile phone (through the jackbox.tv servers), so literally everybody has a way to play–so long as they have a smartphone capable of accessing the internet. This alone is one of the most innovative features in any party game I’ve ever played, and coupled with the two most addictive games in the set, Fibbage and Drawful, the worst thing you’ll have to worry about is keeping your phone’s battery alive.
Fibbage is 2-8 player game, that’s a combination of lying, outwitting or just plain knowing more than your opponents. You’re given a sentence or phrase with a blank space, and your job is to fill it convincingly with a lie that people will guess. It manages to have that “Cards Against Humanity” feeling, only with the bonus of literally being able to enter whatever you want, to try to win everyone over. You can also give “thumbs up” to people for their entries on the backend, which gives them a little nod at the end of the game.
Drawful is designed for 3-8 players, and basically functions like a “Pictionary” for terrible people; that is, at the beginning of each round, each player will be given a word or phrase, and will have ~1 minute to roughly sketch the description on their phone or tablet. Once all drawings are in, it will ramdomize the order, and give each player a chance to guess the title, then put all guesses (as well as the real one) on the screen for points, and will continue for ~3 rounds.
You Don’t Know Jack, the game’s flagship title, is for 1-4 players, and is arguably the most entertaining–if only for the writing. Players will compete across a massive variety of trivia challenges, including trying to suss out what a puppet with a speech impediment is saying, to putting a list of ridiculous items into cohesive order. Unfortunately, the max amount of players allowed is four, which means some people may be shut out in the cold; of course, you could make it into a team game…if you were so inclined.
You Don’t Know Jack is also the most antagonistic of the titles, thanks to the golden screw. At the beginning of a new game, each player is given a golden screw, which can be used to “screw” another player during any regular challenge question, essentially betting that the “screwed” player doesn’t know the answer. If the player answers wrong, the “screwer” gets bonus money; if they answer correctly, the “screwed” player gets money while the “screwer” loses money.
Lie Swatter is designed for 1-99 people (no, really) and it’s essentially a twich-pick game where you try to figure out whether a ludicrous statement is truth, or a lie. It’s a quick, albeit uninspired game, but works well as a palate cleanser between intense games of the above three.
The last (and, arguably, least) of the pack is Word Spud; a bizarre, non-competitive word game that feels one part magnetic fridge poetry and the other part dull and uninspired. Redditor Z0oinks explains:
A word shows up, lets say “magic” is the word. Then, a person has to come up with a phrase or sentence that starts with “magic” that the other players would like, since score is based completely on likes/dislikes of what you say. Let’s say you play the phrase “[magic] school bus”- if at least one person likes your answer, the next phrase will have to start with “bus”. If everyone hates your answer, a random word will be chosen.
There’s ZERO competitive aspect to it, so it comes across more like a lazy programmer getting you to dump words together into a goofy, unimpressive stew.
Even with those two bombs, the other three more than make up for the shortcomings, and are virtually guaranteed to become staples at your next party. Plus, with the phone connectivity, you’ll never have to worry about coming up with extra controllers–just be sure to have a charger (or six!) nearby.