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Mental Floss

$24.99/October 2010

Split Decision

Reviewed by Steven H Silver

Mental Floss magazine has been publishing trivia since 2001.  In recent years, the magazine's editors have opened up a story in the Cleveland suburbs, hosted a series of trivia events in cities across America, sell T-shirts and books, and in 2005, they licensed the Mental Floss Trivia Game. The magazine's latest endeavor is a card game called Split Decision, which is based on the trivia and quizzes that has appeared in the magazine and on their website over the last several years.

Playable by two or more players, Split Decision provides a choice between two categories, such as "Astronauts" or "Houston Astros." One person reads the categories and then the three entries on the cards.  After each entry, the other players indicate whether they think the entry falls into the first or second category. In addition, occasional cards allow the reader to challenge an individual player based on the description on the card ("The Person with the longest fingernails). In these cases, the questions are straight forward trivia questions. For each card, a player can gain up to three points towards winning the game. The game's winner is the first person to get 29 points, conveniently kept by filling out circles that spell the words "I Made the Ultimate Split Decision." 

Although having knowledge of the various topics helps, the game is designed in such a way that even random guessing can be rewarded.  Although the cover states the game is for players 12 to adult, my 9-year-old has managed to lead the game at various times and enjoys playing it.  The game play goes pretty quickly and although packaged in a relatively large box can be decanted into a relatively small space, allowing the game to be taken on trips, whether in the car or even just to kill time while waiting for dinner to be served.

The game includes 300 cards and we found that we were going through about 30 cards for four players, which equates to only 10 games before all of the cards have been seen. Fortunately, Mental Floss can easily release cards in booster packs to supplement the original game, although the original package should probably have included at least three times the number of cards to lengthen the lifetime of the game before booster decks were required.

The rules are easy to learn and written with a sense of humor (the first player is the one who can come closest to touching their tongue to their nose, something only my younger daughter is capable of in my family, so that made her an instant fan of the game)*. Split Decision is a game the rewards trivia knowledge, but at the same time can be played by those who don't actually know the answers since guessing will produce the correct answer 50% of the time. Split Decision provides a fast-paced, easy-to-learn, intelligent game for the entire family. And if the players aren't careful, they may even find themselves learning things.

*She told me I had to include this factoid about the game.

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