The world operates on different kinds of numbers. The surface of our planet’s equator rotates at 460 meters per second, and gravity keeps us on the ground at 9.81 meters per second squared. The Earth and the moon are roughly 4.53 billion years old. The invisible force of numbers is everywhere, and it helps us live our lives every day.
Yet one day, some people took a look at those numbers and thought to themselves, â€śwhat if we can make a board game out of this?â€ť And so, the mad lads did it. Welcome to Wits and Wagers, a trivia game about the different metrics and numbers in our world integrated into a betting mechanic. You do not have to be smart to play it, but it would certainly help you out.
Being a trivia buff will not always work with this game, though, because this trivia game is all about numbers. Plus, the questions are intricate, obscure, and random. For example, â€śhow many US dollar coins do you need to cover the entire surface area of a doubles tennis court?â€ť It is so random that I doubt anyone would know this! If you are interested in playing this game, read on further to know.
What is Wits and Wagers?
Wits and Wagers is a fun trivia game that 4 to 20 players ages 10 & up can play in. You can expect up to 25 minutes of pure chaotic entertainment with your mates. I recommend playing it with seven or more players to add fuel to the flame. The game’s goal is to garner the most points at the end, and you can do this by betting on the correct answer in large amounts.
North Star Games, a board game publishing company based in Bethesda, Maryland, published Wits and Wagers in 2005. It received a second edition by 2007. A designated person asks the players a question whose answer is a number every round. The players’ job is to write their guesses on their board and place them on the betting mat.
After everyone has placed their guesses, they can put their bets on which number they think is the closest to the answer. The guess closest to the answer without going over it is the right guess, and everyone who bet on that guess wins some points. The board game won over 20 awards, such as the Party Game of the Year in 2007 from Board Game Geek and GAMES Magazine.
Components of Wits and Wagers
The Wits and Wagers board game includes the following components:
- Felt Betting Mat (28â€ť x 14â€ť)
- Plastic Poker Chips (x80; 20 Blue and 60 Red)
- Question Cards (x100)
- Player Betting Chips (x14; two for each of the seven colors)
- Dry-Erase Pens (x7)
- Answer Cards or Dry-Erase Boards (x7; one for each of the seven colors)
- Sand Timer (x1)
- Rules Manual (x1)
Wits and Wagers Betting Mat
The Wits and Wagersâ€™ betting mat is usually 28â€ť x 14â€ť in size. You can see the logo at the top of the board and eight long rectangles with round edges in the middle occupying most of the space. The rectangle on one side has a â€ś6 to 1â€ť label and a text that reads, â€śsmaller than the smallest guess.â€ť The following slots have tags in decreasing order, i.e., “5 to 1,” “4 to 1,” etc.
The smallest is the middle slot labeled “2 to 1.” From there, the count starts increasing again. You use the boards to put your guesses in for each question. Then, you place your chips on the guesses. As the name suggests, it is the board where you place your bets on.
Wits and Wagers Poker Chips
The red and blue poker chips in Wits and Wagers have two functions: betting more and scoring. They are round, flat plastic chips you can put below betting chips to increase your bet on a particular guess. Red poker chips are worth one point, and the blue ones are worth five points. You use the number of points represented by the chips for scoring too.
Wits and Wagers Question Cards
Each question card in Wits and Wagers has seven questions with corresponding answers. They are numbered accordingly, and the questions have sources for their answers. For example, some questions will ask you about a world record metric, which comes from the Guinness World Record.
A designated person must pick up a new question card for each round and read the question numbered similarly to the current round. So, if it is currently the sixth round, the designated person must ask the sixth question. There are a hundred question cards in total, meaning you can ask a whopping 700 questions.
Wits and Wagers Betting Chips
The game offers two round betting chips for each player, which are colored accordingly with a black, thick border and the game’s logo printed on it. You use these to place your bets on the closest answer on the board. You can place these separately on different guesses or collectively on the same guess. Each betting chip is worth one point.
Wits and Wagers Dry-erase Pens
Each player has a dry-erase pen to write their guesses with. All of them are usually black, although some editions or revisions of the game may offer different colors. You can use other dry-erase pens if the provided are lost or damaged.
Wits and Wagers Answer Cards
Each player has a dry-erase board to write their guesses on, and each board has a colored border per player. The base game can support seven players (if you are playing with more, you can do seven groups or below); thus, there are seven differently-colored boards. They are colored to identify which guess belongs to which player or team.
Wits and Wagers Sand Timer
The players have 30 seconds every time they answer the question for each round. The sand timer included in the board game will aid you in counting down to precisely 30 seconds. Flip the sand timer where the bulk of sand is on top and wait until all of the sand falls down the bottom chamber. If you have lost this sand timer, you can use a counter on your phone.
Wits and Wagers Rules Manual
The rules manual for Wits and Wagers is helpful to quickly glance at the rules from time to time in case clarification is required. The second edition manual only has three pages, so you can reference it when you want to.
How to Play Wits and Wagers
Wits and Wagers is a game where players play simultaneously with each other. There are seven rounds, and each round has what I like to call two stages: the guessing stage and the betting stage. Everyone first guesses the answer to the given question, and after that, everyone must place their bets on what they think is the closest answer.
I will include these two stages in separate sections in my guide to elaborate on them further. Furthermore, I will also have two other steps: setting up the game and determining the winner.
Part One: How to Set Up Wits and Wagers
Setting up the game is intimidating at a glance, but it is pretty simple and easy. This guide’s job is to make it look easy by elaborating on each step. Follow the steps below:
- Determine the number of players.
- Set up each player or team.
- Designate a banker.
- Designate a question reader.
- Set up the betting mat.
Determine the Number of Players
Wits and Wagers is a game for 4 to 20 participants, or even more! However, the game can accommodate only seven players. So, if you are playing with more than seven participants, you can group yourselves that would fit seven teams or less.
For example, if you are playing with fourteen players, you can group yourselves into two and have seven teams with two players each. Sometimes, you cannot distribute the number of players evenly. For example, if you have 11 players, it is hard to divide everyone into teams with equal members.
So, it is up to you to determine the capabilities of each person. In the case of 11 players, you can have five teams having two members each plus a one-man team. I would advise playing Wits and Wagers with six or more players, although it can still be fun with only four or five.
Set Up Each Player or Ream
After determining the number of players, it is time to give each player (or team) the items they need to play. Each player or team must first pick a color among the seven available. These seven colors are yellow, red, blue, gray, green, orange, and purple in the second edition. Then, they must get a dry-erase pen and the answer card of the color they chose.
They must also get the two cardboard betting chips of the same color they chose. I would advise you to get napkins or tissues to erase the answers since you need to erase them if you think your initial guess is wrong or when a new question is asked. If you are playing with teams, I would advise each team to have a quirky team name to make it more entertaining.
Designate a Banker
Assign someone to be the banker. The banker is the person who has control of the chips. They are responsible for collecting the money from losing bets and giving the money to winning bets. The banker can be one of the players if they want to play.
Designate a Question Reader
Assign someone to be the question reader. They are responsible for picking the question cards and reading aloud the questions for each round. They are also responsible for announcing the answers after everyone places their bets. You can choose a player to be the question reader, like the banker. If you are low on people, you can even have a player be the banker and the question reader.
I would advise you to make the question reader responsible for setting up the sand timer to tick down to 30 seconds. However, if another person wants to be the one to flip the sand timer, then they are free to do so.
After picking your question reader, they should take seven question cards from the pile randomly and place them nearby with the yellow side facing up. The question cards they picked will be the questions they will ask for each round.
Set Up the Betting Mat
Finally, place the betting mat on a flat surface. If your betting mat is damaged or lost, you can make your own. You just need to follow the same structure printed on the original mat.
Part Two: How to Ask and Answer the Questions in Wits and Wagers
After setting up the game, we can move on to the first round. There are seven rounds, and each round has a question that everyone must answer. At the start of every round, something I like to call the â€śguessing stageâ€ť occurs. They are in the order below:
- The question reader reads the question.
- The players write their answers on the answer card.
- Arrange the answer cards on the betting mat.
The Question Reader Reads the Question
At the start of every round, the question reader must read a question on the question card. They must pick a question card from the pile and ask the question corresponding to the current round number. For example, if it is currently the third round, the question reader must read the third question card’s third question.
The question reader must try their best to convey the question clearly to the players. They can say the question twice or speak in a clear and loud voice. Once the question is asked, the question reader flips the sand timer.
The Players Write Their Answers on the Answer Card
Flipping the sand timer indicates that the players can write the answer to the question on the board until the time runs out. They can use the dry-erase pen on the answer card, and if they think that their written answer is wrong, they can simply erase it using a tissue or a napkin. Everyone can answer either in the whole number or in decimals.
Example scenario: the question reader asks, â€śhow many kilograms did the first portable computer released in 1981 weigh?â€ť They then start the sand timer for 30 seconds. You, a player, do not know the answer, so you write your guess: 15 kilograms. While the timer has not run out yet, you change your mind and change your answer to 13.5 kilograms.
You erase your previous answer with a tissue and write your new guess. Again, you think the answer is wrong, and you want to change it, but the timer has run out. At this point, you cannot change your answer anymore.
Arrange the Answer Cards on the Betting Mat
When the sand timer runs out, it means 30 seconds have passed. Everyone must then put their answer cards on the mat. Next, someone must sort the answer cards from the smallest to the largest. If a player cannot write an answer on time, it is up to you to decide what to do. You can leave their answer card out of the sorting phase or assign a default number like one or zero.
You need to put the answer cards on the betting mat to proceed to the betting phase. Furthermore, it would be best to sort them according to their cardinal size because their positions are essential in determining how much the winner gets. Below is a guide on how to arrange the answer cards.
How to Arrange the Answer Cards in Wits and Wagers
Collect all the answer cards and order them by their size. The placement of these answer cards depends on how many of them are there, but the general rule is that the lowest number goes to the side nearest to the â€śsmaller than the smallest guessâ€ť slot. This slot must always be empty, and it may have other names such as â€śall answers too high.â€ť
The board usually has an arrow indicating which slots to put the smallest to the largest answers. I will detail examples for each situation concerning the number of answer cards. In these examples, the players answer the question, “how many kilograms did the first portable computer released in 1981 weigh?â€ť
Odd Number of Unique Answer Cards
If there is an odd number of answer cards and all of them have unique answers, then the middle guess goes in the â€ś2 to 1â€ť slot. Then, place the decreasing guesses to the left towards the â€śsmaller than the smallest guessâ€ť slot while the increasing guesses to the right. You may have empty slots depending on how many answer cards there are.
Example scenario: there are five answer cards on the mat. The answers are as follows:
- Player 1: 10
- Player 2: 13.5
- Player 3: 15
- Player 4: 8
- Player 5: 9.2
Thus, the arrangement must be as follows:
Smaller than the smallest guess |
5 to 1 | 4 to 1 | 3 to 1 | 2 to 1 | 3 to 1 | 4 to 1 | 5 to 1 |
6 to 1 | Â | 8 (P4) | 9.2 (P5) | 10 (P1) | 13.5 (P2) | 15 (P3) |
Â |
Even Number of Unique Answer Cards
If there is an even number of answer cards and all have unique answers, then the “2 to 1” slot must be left empty. Then, the two middle guesses go in the â€ś3 to 1â€ť slots. Again, place the decreasing guesses to the left towards the â€śsmaller than the smallest guessâ€ť slot while the increasing guesses to the right. Depending on how many answer cards there are, you may still have an empty slot.
Example scenario: there are four answer cards on the mat. The answers are as follows:
- Player 1: 10
- Player 2: 13.5
- Player 3: 8
- Player 4: 9.2
Thus, arrange the answer cards as follows:
Smaller than the smallest guess |
5 to 1 | 4 to 1 | 3 to 1 | 2 to 1 | 3 to 1 | 4 to 1 | 5 to 1 |
6 to 1 | Â | 8 (P4) | 9.2 (P5) | Â | 10 (P1) | 13.5 (P2) |
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Duplicate Answer Cards
Sometimes, players may have the same answers. When this happens, place the same answers in the same slot. If there are an even number of answer cards and two are duplicates, then that means the number of unique ones is odd. The same is true for the opposite spectrum.
Example scenario 1: there are six answer cards on the mat. The answers are as follows:
- Player 1: 10
- Player 2: 13.5
- Player 3: 8
- Player 4: 9.2
- Player 5: 8
- Player 6: 15
Thus, arrange the answer cards as follows:
Smaller than the smallest guess |
5 to 1 | 4 to 1 | 3 to 1 | 2 to 1 | 3 to 1 | 4 to 1 | 5 to 1 |
6 to 1 | Â | 8 (P3 and P5) | 9.2 (P4) | 10 (P1) | 13.5 (P2) | 15 (P6) |
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As you can see, even though there are six answer cards, there are only five unique answers. So, they must follow the â€śodd numberâ€ť rule.
Example scenario 2: there are still six answer cards on the mat, but now three are the same. The answers are as follows:
- Player 1: 8
- Player 2: 13.5
- Player 3: 8
- Player 4: 9.2
- Player 5: 8
- Player 6: 15
Thus, arrange the answer cards as follows:
Smaller than the smallest guess |
5 to 1 | 4 to 1 | 3 to 1 | 2 to 1 | 3 to 1 | 4 to 1 | 5 to 1 |
6 to 1 | Â | 8 (P1, P3, and P5) | 9.2 (P4) | Â | 13.5 (P2) | 15 (P6) |
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Example scenario 3: there are five answer cards on the mat, but two are duplicates. The answers are as follows:
- Player 1: 8
- Player 2: 13.5
- Player 3: 15
- Player 4: 9.2
- Player 5: 8
Thus, arrange the answer cards as follows:
Smaller than the smallest guess |
5 to 1 | 4 to 1 | 3 to 1 | 2 to 1 | 3 to 1 | 4 to 1 | 5 to 1 |
6 to 1 | Â | 8 (P1 and P5) | 9.2 (P4) | Â | 13.5 (P2) | 15 (P3) |
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Part Three: How to Bet in Wits and Wagers
After placing and arranging the answer cards on the betting mat, it is time for every player or team to bet. In this part, I will discuss how to bet and determine the winning guess. I will also discuss how to pay the winning bets and answers. This part follows the procedure below:
- Every player or team must place their bets on the answer cards.
- The question reader reveals the answer and determines the winning guess.
- The banker takes the losing bets and awards the winnings.
How to Place Your Bet in Wits and Wagers
Once again, the question reader flips the sand timer, giving 30 seconds for everyone to decide where to place their bets. Everyone can bet on any of the answers, even if it is not yours. For example, if you think your answer is wrong and another playerâ€™s answer is correct because they are more knowledgeable about it, then you can place your bets on theirs.
To bet on a particular answer, place your betting chip on it. You have two betting chips, so you have two options: place both betting chips on one guess, or place each on two different guesses. You cannot put your betting chip in empty slots, although you can put it in the â€śsmaller than the smallest guessâ€ť slot if you think the answer is indeed smaller.
How to Bet with Poker Chips in Wits and Wagers
You probably already have either blue or red poker chips during the second to the seventh round. You can use these poker chips to increase your bet, although you can only put them beneath betting chips. You can still only bet on two guesses no matter how many poker chips you may have.
You can put any number of poker chips you want underneath your betting chips as there is no limit. Remember that red poker chips are worth one point while blue ones are worth five. A betting chip is worth one point. For example, if you put two red poker chips and one blue under a betting chip on a guess, that means you bet a total of eight points on the guess.
How to Determine the Winning Answer in Wits and Wagers
The question reader reveals the answer by flipping over the question card after the 30-second timer runs out. The answer closest to the number without going over is the winning guess.
Example scenario 1: The answer cards are as follows:
Smaller than the smallest guess |
5 to 1 | 4 to 1 | 3 to 1 | 2 to 1 | 3 to 1 | 4 to 1 |
5 to 1 |
6 to 1 |
Â | 8 (P4) | 9.2 (P5) | 10 (P1) | 13.5 (P2) | 15 (P3) |
Â |
If the correct answer is 9, then the winning guess would be Player 4’s answer (8) since Player 5’s answer (9.2) is too high from the correct answer.
Example scenario 2: Consider the answer cards placement in the first scenario. If the correct answer is 5, then the winning slot would be the â€śsmaller than the smallest guessâ€ť slot since Player 4’s answer (8) is too high from the correct answer.
Example scenario 3: Consider the answer cards placement in the first scenario. If the correct answer is 17, everyone loses as the correct answer is too high from the highest guess.
How to Pay and Collect Bets in Wits and Wagers
The banker must do the following:
- Give the winning guess three red poker chips. If multiple players are in the slot with the winning guess, they are awarded three red poker chips.
- Collect all of the losersâ€™ poker chips. If the losers placed poker chips underneath their betting chips during the round, the banker must collect and add them to the bank.
- Award the winning bets according to the slot. The number of poker chips the banker awards the winners depends on which slot the winning guess is. I will put into detail how this works after this procedure.
- Return the betting chips to their respective owners. The banker must never collect betting chips.
- Return the winnersâ€™ poker chips to their respective owners. The banker only collects the losersâ€™ poker chips.
The award given to the winning bets comes from multiplying the number of points on the playerâ€™s bet to the number indicated in the slot.
Example scenario 1: the winning guess is in the â€ś4 to 1â€ť slot, and Player 1 placed a total of eight points on the winning guess (one betting chip, two red poker chips, and one blue poker chip). Thus, the total award would be 32 points (8 points multiplied by 4). The banker must give the winner poker chips equivalent to their prize. The banker can give six blue poker chips and two red ones in this case.
Example scenario 2: the winning guess is in the â€ś2 to 1â€ť slot, and Player 4 placed both of their betting chips on it. Thus, the total award would be four points (2 points multiplied by 2). The banker gives four red poker chips to them.
Part Four: How to Determine the Winner in Wits and Wagers
The winner of the game is decided after seven questions, and it is determined by who has the most points. The poker chips are essential as they represent the points of the game. Now that the game is over, place the question cards at the back of the deck to have new questions when starting a new game.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: How Much Money do You Start within Wits and Wagers?
Answer: Each player or team must only start with two betting chips. They cannot start the game with any poker chips as the banker awards them to a player with a winning bet.
Question: Is Wits and Wagers Fun?
Answer: It depends if you are a fan of trivia games, although even the smartest trivia buffs may have difficulties playing the game. The questions are obscure and random so that players would be making guesses most of the time. The real fun in the game is picking which guess is correct and then popping off when you choose the correct one.
Question: How do I Win Wits and Wagers?
Answer: You can win by determining the confidence levels of the playersâ€™ bets, including yourself. If you think that a particular player is confident with their answer and you are not, you can follow what they are betting on. The chances are that the confident person knows the correct answer. Remember that most of the time, the game relies on educated guesses.
Conclusion: Is Wits and Wagers a Good Game?
Wits and Wagers is a fun game to play with friends and family, and it is enjoyable with six or more players. I think it is a good game as the questions are so obscure no one can know every answer throughout the game. So, intelligent players and trivia buffs may not always win in this trivia game. Although if you are part of the mentioned players, expect to be frustrated with your capabilities.
What makes the game good is that it is not complicated to teach. Even young people can participate because, most of the time, even adults are blindly guessing the correct answer. The game has a rating of 6.933 on average from 14 thousand reviews from Board Game Geek, a renowned site that collects reviews from board game enthusiasts.
In the end, the best way to tell if the game is good is by playing through it. When you plan on doing so, be sure to have lots of players to amplify the fun. You can also try playing with variants of the rules.
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