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Subject: A Pictorial Overview: Useful for more than sticking pawns up your nose rss

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The Very First Review

Now I know you want to hear the part about sticking pawns up your nose. Don't worry, I'll get to that. But first let me explain why I'm even writing this review.

Boy, does this game ever need a review! It has NO posts about it. No reviews. No strategy articles. No variants. Nothing! None! Zero! Zilch! Nada! And only half a dozen personal comments!

It must be an obscure relic from a yard sale, right? Wrong! I picked this up brand new just a few years ago from a reputable online retailer. And it looks like they are still selling it right now. There are multiple copies for sale on eBay as I write this. More than a dozen are available on Amazon.

What's more, apparently this is a game that has stood the test of time. My copy of the game has a copyright date as early as 1984 (and I'm sure that's not a printing mistake for the year of birth of the designer!) In fact, the game was even reprinted and restyled with different packaging and artwork in the 1990s. Apparently it's not as obscure as one might imagine!

Clearly, it was high time to get Bible Challenge to the table, and take it for a spin with the family, in order to share some information with fellow gamers to whom this might be of some interest. And so here am I, doing my good deed for the day, writing this review for you, my fellow BGGer, instead of being curled up on the couch with a good book.

Of course, it helped that today was a Sunday. What better game to play after church and a good Sunday evening dinner than a game of Bible trivia? Yes, I'm for real, there are actually people out there who do that from time to time! And so that's exactly what we did this evening, and this review is the result.

So what's Bible Challenge about? Let's open the box and find out!

The Game Box

The box I have is very non-descript and plain looking, as pictured here:



To its credit, the box might be mono-coloured and very serious looking, but it does have a nice gold embossed and professional looking title:



It almost looks as if they've taken their style cue from the format used on the front cover of a traditional Bible!

On the other hand it appears that with a more recent edition (which I don't have), the publishers have gone for a more flashy and chintzy look:



The marketing team also seems to have opted for some clever sales pitch on the front of this new style box:
Some knowledge is trivial, some is eternal.
An Exciting Way to Learn about the Bible.

Profound stuff, isn't it? Okay, I concede, maybe it's even a little cheesy. The first one liner is reasonable enough, but I'm really not so sure about the second. I always get suspicious when they try to use a game as an excuse to teach me stuff.

Although to be fair, the back of the box of the newer edition does seem to give some genuinely useful suggestions and ideas for parents and Bible class teachers, as seen here.



The Game Play

Now to be honest, I'm usually not too thrilled to be playing a trivia game. In my experience, they tend to be dull, and only start getting exciting when players start sticking player pawns up their nose (as described in the anecdote a little further in this review) or try other creative things with game components that are not described in the rules or ever intended by the game designers. Would this trivia game really be any different?

The object of the game is simple: correctly answer Bible trivia questions in different categories. And win! Yep, it's really not a whole lot more difficult than that! When one is experienced in learning euro-games with 5-20 page rule books as most of us are, a game that requires just a quarter of a page of instructions is like childs play! In fact, I asked my ten year old after the game how to describe how the game works. In her words:

You have to first of all move your pawn, and then you have to answer a question that is given to you about the Bible. If you get it right, you put the ring on your little pawn, and then you get to go again. If you don't get it right, then you stop. If you get all the rings on, then everyone gets to go around one more time, and then the other people take three cards, and they look at the gold one and choose the hardest one, and say it to you, and if you get it right, you win the game.

There, that wasn't too painful was it! If my ten year old can figure it out, so can you!



Now, to be honest, I had played the game before. Once. In fact, I even remember the precise date. July, 1991. Why would I remember? Because it was a Sunday, and one of the very first times I was visiting the family of my wife (whom I was courting at the time). Naturally I was a little nervous about the whole experience. I distinctly remember not being sure what to make of her family. And who was I to veto the suggestion that we play Bible Challenge? But this spirit of cooperation was soon to turn into existential angst, especially after her older brother decided insert player pawns from Bible Challenge in each nostril for dramatic effect! Regrettably, I have no picture to upload that would document this remarkable sight. To be fair, I have to concede that this did enhance the playing experience!

Apparently I did get over the psychological scars that resulted from that marvelous mental image. Because I did end up coming back, and marrying into the family despite this! Now please don't tell my wife I told you about this experience, will you? I'd hate for her to leave me just because I shared the story about her brother sticking pawns up his nose (not that I would ever do any such thing myself!...or would I? Really, I promise I'll never do such a thing ... at least, not often!)

But I digress. Now what was I saying.... oh yes, that the rules were so simple, that even my ten year old could summarize them in just a few lines.

The Game Board

Now, to be fair to the people responsible for writing the rules on the quarter sheet of paper, they did say a few more things than what my daughter did. For example, the board and movement is actually kind of neat.



The board has some useful information, such as the names of the twelves tribes and the twelve apostles, and the categories of different Bible literature.

But what I especially liked was the movement mechanic. There's no randomness. Seriously! You might have noticed that the inner circuit of squares consists of the New Testament books, while the outer circuit of squares consists of the Old Testament books. Unlike most games of this sort, movement is not dice based (despite the fact that the game comes with a dice, for an unexplained reason!). But here's the interesting part: each Bible book square lists the number of chapters in that Bible book. Movement is always to the right, so if a player is on a Bible book square with 24 chapters, they can choose how many squares to move on that turn: 2 or 4. It's also possible to interchange between the Old and New Testament circuits by means of the cross, so that also increases options for which square to move to. Landing on the cross itself enables player to choose the category of question to be asked.

I like this movement mechanic, because it gives players some choices and decisions about where they end up, and they're not merely at the mercy of the dice (a frustrating experiences, as those trying to get their last coloured pie piece in Trivial Pursuit will well appreciate!) You can always figure out which options will be available to you on your next turn. When you do land on a category you've already answered previously, you won't feel angry at a bad dice roll, because there's no dice roll to be angry about - you knew the previous turn that this is where you'd end up. The mechanic is simple enough, but it works well, and eliminates one of the irritating aspects of most trivia games that use a board.

The Playing Pieces

The questions themselves are in seven categories, corresponding to the seven colours of the squares on the board. Each time players get a question in a category correct, they get to place the matching coloured ring on their pawn.



Players need to get a question in each of the seven categories correct in order to have a chance at winning the game. At this point, all the other players get one more turn. Then three cards are chosen, and the opponents pick what they think is the hardest question from "The Life of Christ" category (gold colour) as the game winning question. If the potential winner fails to get the right answer, the other players get another round and the process is repeated. I like this - it gives the other players a chance to catch up, and also has them involved in the process of choosing a harder question for the potential winner.

There's a good amount of questions on 300 cards, which come in two boxes:



The Trivia Questions

As for the questions themselves, the categories are as follows:
Red: Old Testament
Brown: New Testament
Gold: Life of Christ
Green: Bible quotations
Orange: Places
Light Blue: People
Dark Blue: General

Here are some sample questions:



The remaining categories are on the reverse side of the cards:



The questions are quite reasonable on the whole. Of course, trivia games are always going to advantage those with stronger knowledge. In this case I think the solution is simple: by playing on teams. In our game, I teamed up with our eight year old, my wife teamed up with our ten year old, and our twelve year old played on his own. Even our eight year old was able to answer some of the questions, so when it was our turn to answer questions, I let him have the first attempt at answering, and I contributed whenever he didn't know the answer – that made it fun and challenging for both of us. But judging from comments I read elsewhere, ten is probably the minimum age necessary in most circles.

Note that the questions are based on the King James Version, which mostly doesn't affect questions or answers, but sometimes minor adjustments do need to be made. What I did appreciate is that each answer lists the relevant Bible text. Several times we found ourselves consulting the Bible to check the details of an answer, or alternate answers that we'd come up with. This is certainly a strength of the game.

As an aside, the artwork on the cards of the newer edition has also changed:



The Rules

One might find reason to criticize the rules, but really to criticize the rules would be to miss the point. The aim is to get families and friends having fun together with trivia questions, and perhaps even learn something about the Bible in the process.

In fact, the rule sheet even says this: “Remember the game is flexible and you should make your own rules to suit the occasion.” Elsewhere it says: “There are many ways to play the game and you may adapt the rules of play to suit most any occasion.” Now wouldn't the rules lawyers have fun with that!

The designers made absolutely every effort not to step on anyone's toes! They really are very cautious and hardly dare prescribe anything! They even recommend about ten different ways to pick a starting player, and then suggest that you can decide for yourself how to make this decision. You think I'm kidding right? Nope. They even included a die for no other reason than giving you the option of using it to decide the starting player or make up your own rules about board movement. But that's fine, it gives people who own this game some scope to take it in the direction that they want.

Personally I can't see any real reason to change the basic gameplay and rules, the ruleset is simple, straight forward, and sensible, and prevents the game from dragging too much or taking too long. But if you want to change the rules to suit your own needs, go ahead, I won't stop you, and nor will the designer! Certainly there are lots of ways to use trivia questions, aside from the gameplay described in the rules, so this gives a lot of flexibility.



The Final Verdict

Does it succeed as a fun and educational game? Trivia games aren't usually my thing, but we had fun with it when we pulled this out for our Sunday night family game session. Clearly it's geared to a Christian market, so it will only be enjoyed by those familiar with the basic content of the Bible. But for Christian families who do fit this niche, this is a game worth considering.

Some strengths about Bible Challenge:
The board is nicely designed around the books of the Bible, and promotes a good knowledge of their sequence and the number of chapters in each book.
The movement involves some decision making and isn't pure roll and move like many other trivia games.
The content is about the Bible, so provides wholesome material for folks like us (more so than a trivia game about TV shows or movies).
The questions include Bible references, and do promote learning Scripture. More than once we found ourselves consulting the Bible passages to look up points that aroused our curiosity or interest.
The questions have enough variety of difficulty to allow even children as young as eight to participate and do reasonably well, and yet still offer the occasional challenge for the well-informed Bible reader (My son was quicker than me to remember what happened to King Saul in Ramoth Gilead, and there were several other questions that had me stumped!)
It's ideal for playing in groups, where people of varying knowledge can work together against other teams.
The rules are flexible, and can be adapted to fit whatever works best for your circumstances.

Clearly, this is not a game for everyone, but certainly this can find a home in many Christian families.

The Last Word: In the words of kids

After our game, I asked my children what they liked about the game, and they all said they enjoyed it. I'll leave you with what they had to say about Bible Challenge, in their own words:

The 12 year old: “I like the way it is based entirely on the Bible. Besides, I like trivia games. I also like it because it is very simple and easy to learn.”

The 10 year old: “It's pretty hard because you have to think a lot and try to remember everything.”

The 8 year old: “It's fun. (shrugs) Sort of. I don't know why. It's just fun. That's all. Any more questions?”

See, it is fun after all! Even if you don't stick pawns up your nose!


Disclaimer: I take no responsibility for any medical care needed for any reader who attempts to stick pawns up his nose after reading this review. Even if you notice that the ones pictured in this review are particularly well shaped for this purpose. Read at own risk!

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The complete list of Ender's pictorial reviews: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/37596
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Jeremy Koopmans
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Re: Useful for more than sticking pawns up your nose
EndersGame wrote:

But this spirit of cooperation was soon to turn into existential angst, especially after her older brother decided insert player pawns from Bible Challenge in each nostril for dramatic effect! Regrettably, I have no picture to upload that would document this remarkable sight. To be fair, I have to concede that this did enhance the playing experience!

Ah, the Classic Misadventure in Gaming #2.
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michael confoy
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Re: Useful for more than sticking pawns up your nose
Would you recommend this game to Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, or Hindus?
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tim Tim TIm TIM TIMMY!!
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just got this at the thrift store, same copy you have, for $3, am very excited to play it and thanks for the awesome review - You Rock!
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Kenny VenOsdel
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papahoth wrote:
Would you recommend this game to Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, or Hindus?

If they have knowledge of or interest in the Bible then why not?
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Christopher Seguin
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Hendal wrote:
just got this at the thrift store, same copy you have, for $3, am very excited to play it and thanks for the awesome review - You Rock!

Jealous I am of you!

(Ha...that isn't even a very Christian thing of me to do/say, but I too would enjoy finding a $3 thrift store copy myself).

Regardless, as the one person said in the main Geeklist that holds all of Ender's Reviews, it is his fault that he continues to add games to my "Want List". I didn't even know this was out there until today, all because of this review.

Thanks, Ender.
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tim Tim TIm TIM TIMMY!!
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just finally pulled this one out to play, and man is it moldy, we decided to clean it up and let it sit for a day, of course I do live in the rain forest and the dry season has about 92% humidity, and that is only 4 month out of the year, the rest is the rainy season
 
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Nate Straight

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EndersGame wrote:
To its credit, the box might be mono-coloured and very serious looking, but it does have a nice gold embossed and professional looking title:



It almost looks as if they've taken their style cue from the format used on the front cover of a traditional Bible!

On the other hand it appears that with a more recent edition (which I don't have), the publishers have gone for a more flashy and chintzy look:



The marketing team also seems to have opted for some clever sales pitch on the front of this new style box:
Some knowledge is trivial, some is eternal.
An Exciting Way to Learn about the Bible.

It seems a shame to have dropped the verse from the front... or maybe that's just because I have a soft spot for 2 Tim 2:15 from years and years of AWANA.

Quote:
Here are some sample questions:



The remaining categories are on the reverse side of the cards:



The questions are quite reasonable on the whole.

I wonder whether they're too easy, in fact... certainly you couldn't get a self-respecting group of Bible scholars / seminary students together to play. Or maybe you could, just for the humiliating laughs for getting one of these questions wrong.

I guess most games like this are meant for Sunday School play and/or family play with children. Seems more reasonable for that than something like Bible Pictionary or Bible Scattergories, which are all but impossible.
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Justus
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I much prefer the old box design, much classier and feels legit.

Interesting innovation on the board, I like it. Seems to be a game where if the subject matter works with the crowd, it would be much better than Trivial Pursuit.
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Chris Flood
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When are you going to review WWJD?
 
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