Nerdful Things – kNOW! Review
I spied kNOW! over on Amazon and, given the price – at the time it was £23.99 (same price at the time of writing this post) I was intrigued by the premise and it seemed like an offer too good to pass up – a board game quiz that utilises Google Assistant and boasts of always being up-to-date and ever expanding. Sold! The logo sports the familiar Google colours and it seemed fairly simple to set up – the board fits together like a large jigsaw comprised of only 4 pieces, a buzzer (with a battery included) and some player pieces and, of course, multi-coloured category cards.
The Description (sourced from BoardGameGeek)
Thanks to the Google Assistant, the quiz game kNOW!asks questions that would never have been possible before in a tabletop game. The answers to many of the 1,500+ questions change daily and vary depending on where you play: “When will the sun rise tomorrow?”, “How far is it from here to Honululu?”, or “What time is it in Sydney now?” Google’s free digital voice assistant has the answers to these and many other questions. Players might also be challenged by tongue twisters and other odd phrases. For additional variety, new questions and theme specials will be added “in the box” for free.
Thanks to the digital timer, the game takes as long as players want, with a rules explanation via the Google Assistant. If you don’t have online access, kNOW! is still playable without the voice assistant.
The game comes in two versions, one featuring only the game and one packaged with a Google Home Mini.
So the set up is simple, as I mentioned above, you just slot the four pieces together like a super-sized jigsaw. There’s a cut-out square in the centre for the buzzer to sit. You place the relevant number of pieces (up to 6 players) at the “Intuition” space indicated by an arrow on the board. Having 3 Google Home products (a full-sized Google Home and two minis) in the house already as well as my Galaxy S10 5G and an Android Assistant enabled TV (Sony Bravia KD-49XF8096), we were already set up to go as far as the Google Assistant goes.
So far, we have played the online version. Before I get into that, I’ll explain the differences. Each turn, the quiz master changes so, let’s say for example I start, I’ll ask the question – if it’s an offline game, the answer is on the card I am reading from so I cannot take part. If we’re using the online version, there is only the question so I can take part along with the others. There are some exceptions such as “Quick Draw” – here, the quiz master doesn’t answer but can move one space should a player buzz in and answer incorrectly.
As I mentioned, the offline questions have the answers printed on them so it means the quiz master cannot participate so we will try this at some point and, depending on any major gameplay differences we encounter (I doubt there will be anything of note) then I’ll update this review.
The categories are split as follows:
Tripped Up: The online version sees Google reel off a tongue twister. If a player thinks they can repeat it three times successfully, they buzz in. If they succeed, they move their pawn two spaces. If they fail, the other players get to move their pawns one space. We tried this but Google reeled them off so fast we had no idea what she was saying and they were stupidly long so we gave up on this. The offline version has the tongue twister printed on the card.
Phrase Finder: The online version has Professor kNOW! utter a partial phrase and players have to buzz in and complete it. If the player who buzzed is correct, they move their pawn two spaces. If they fail, the other players get to move their pawns one space. As above, the offline version has a partial phrase printed on the card. We quite enjoyed this one, although Professor kNOW! also talks fast like Google so it’s hard to catch what’s being said sometimes.
Humming it Up: This is an offline only card and has the quiz master hum (or use any other non-word sounds to vocalise) a song from the card and the other players have to buzz in. Again, if the player who buzzes in first is correct, they move two spaces. If they are wrong, the other players move one space. As we didn’t play any offline cards, we are yet to try this one.
Sound By Sound: This is an online only game in which Professor kNOW! will play a sound and players buzz in to answer. If the player is correct, they move two spaces and if they are wrong, the others move one. We got on pretty well with this but all the sounds were animals (not sure if that’s how it will stay or what – I was expecting sound effects from movies and so on too).
Know It All: Professor kNOW! asks a multiple choice question to which players have to answer A, B or C. Players whose answer is correct move one space and incorrect answers result in no advancement on the board. This game is online only. This was one of the stronger games as the questions were varied and challenging but enjoyable. Naturally, this is online only.
Up to Three: Players have twenty seconds to write down three answers related to the topic the quiz master reads from the card. Once time is up, The quiz master asks google the same question and if Google gives any answers that match what players have, the players score points to the maximum of three and move the respective number of spaces on the board. Google may give more than three answers or a list on screen but only the first three are to be used. The offline version has three answers on the card. This was a pretty good one but it did get annoying when some answers should have been higher up but things such as search rankings or the website Google picks as its source is perhaps questionable.
Great Question: In this game, the quiz master will read a word or phrase from the card and the players have to ask Google a question where Google answers and if Google says the word or phrase then that player moves one space. If Google doesn’t give the desired response, play moves to the next player who has to do the same. An example would be “Rome” so you would ask Google for the capital of Italy. This is online only. This was okay but frustrating when Google wasn’t quite understanding our questions.
Guesswork: In this game, the quiz master reads a question and players have to give the closest answer – example, what’s the current temperature in Paris. These questions can be swapped out for others quite easily if you’ve been through all of the cards. Offline cards have their own responses – the questions could also be swapped out for other locations etc. to create more challenges. Whoever answers closest moves one space. I quite enjoyed this round although it did highlight how bad I am with historical events.
Top Hits: This game has Professor kNOW! give players a random word to which they add another word before or after it to create a phrase that they think will have had the most internet searches. The player whose answer had the highest hits moves forward one space on the board. This was okay but the assortment of words we had were pretty lame – due to the randomness I guess some rounds will be really good and others not so. Again, this is online only.
Quick on the Draw: This is online and offline and is the only game the quiz master cannot participate in if played online. The quiz master reads the question and players have to buzz in. If the player who buzzes in is wrong, the quiz master advances one space on the board. If nobody answers, the quiz master reads a new question. We tweaked this so that if nobody buzzes then the quiz master moves a space anyway as we were sat there for five minutes (possibly longer) before we found a question we liked the sound of – this more cut-throat approach helped the pace of the game and put a bit more pressure on the players to think of an answer. In the offline version of this game, if a player buzzes and is wrong the quiz master does not get to advance one space.
The game is an interesting twist on your typical quiz game – one thing I really like is the ability to change the question: say you’ve had the card before and it asks what the current time in India is, you could swap India out for another country. It may not apply for some but you could either skip or make a question up.
Given my weird accent – Scottish mixed with almost fifteen years of living in Wales, Google often has a hard time understanding what I’m saying so this can be a bit of a killer in a game where voice recognition is a core part of the game. Add the frustration where Google just rattles off information without pause causing us to ask her to repeat (occasionally asking her multiple times for the same thing) and it can be a mood killer for a family game night.
But, all in all, I believe the versatility and potential to expand upon this game far outweighs these niggles. I love the fact that this game, unlike things like Trivial Pursuit and other board game quizzes has questions that will become obsolete or out of touch with younger generations.
I think the price point is sweet and is a welcome change considering most new board games tend to be well over £30. Obviously it would work out more if you don’t already own a Google Assistant enabled device but, that said, the Home Minis are often in sales and even at £49 they’re well worth it.
—The Trying Scotsman has a ‘Don’t Be A Dick’ policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—