Jackbox Party Pack Tiers
by Jesse McGrath and Jacob Rubin
Posted: September 13, 2021
Updated: July 29, 2022
For decades, video gaming has tried to horn in on the “party game” market. Aside from occasional and often unintentional hits (we’re looking at you, Wii Sports), party games struggled to leave the “this is a video game for video gamers” box and enter the “this is like a board game anyone can play” arena. (And that leaves nothing said about the video game adaptations of board games. Scrabble on the PS1 is still Scrabble, but sure, whatever, Merry Christmas, Uncle Joel.)
Finally, the Jackbox Party Pack entered the scene in 2014 with a simple but stunning promise: What if your phone was also a game controller? With that, we were off to the races, and Jackbox has kept up a regular release schedule, rolling out a pack of five new mini-games almost every year. And it’s a great time! Jackbox has been there for family game nights, friendly gatherings, and even COVID-friendly remote parties, allowing you to easily change the subject from “you guys, isn’t the world crazy right now??”.
However, as great as these games are, when you’ve made 35 of these fucking things (only six of which are explicit sequels), there’s bound to be some games that are better than others. That’s why Jesse and Jacob have sorted all of these games into tiers, just like those fighting game nerds. Our judging system was based on looking at the game and deciding if it was good (criticism is easy and fun, you guys) and the games were awarded a letter grade:
- S: Sublime
- A: Awesome
- B: Bretty Good
- C: Could be skipped
- D: Don’t
To make things interesting, we switched up who wrote the initial reviews and who wrote the rebuttals. Just read it, it’ll make sense. Why are you making this hard on yourself?
YOU DON’T KNOW JACK 2015
JACOB’S REVIEW: They’ve been making YDKJ games forever [edit: since 1995, basically the same thing], and they’re a hit for a reason. Fun trivia questions that range from pop culture to science minutia to historical content, all presented in a silly, surreal comedy format. These games are amusing but have little replay value, the 4-player ceiling is limiting, and the mechanics of “screwing” and the “Wrong Answer of the Game” are more complicated than they need to be. However, this was the first time YDKJ was playable with smart devices, so you’ll have to allow for some growing pains.
JESSE’S TAKE: A full agree here. A ton of respect for the game that started it all, but in retrospect the transition was clunky and there is no reason to go back and play this unless you are in a situation where you only have access to Party Pack 1, and you have already played Drawful and Fibbage for like 3 hours.
JACOB’S REVIEW: The granddaddy of the drawing games, Drawful combines Pictionary with Balderdash in an incredible illustration comprehension challenge. This game is Jackbox at its bare essentials: simple rules everyone can understand, and fully utilizing the smart device controller. It’s incredible this is the only Drawful entry included in a Jackbox pack, but there wasn’t really much space to improve; they knocked it out of the park on the first try. (A sequel, Drawful 2, has been released, which features new prompts, the ability to write your own, and multiple color options, but it isn’t a part of any pack because those bastards knew we’d pay for it by itself. Those bastards.)
JESSE’S TAKE: Jacob fully covered it. The best of what a party pack game can be. Simple to explain to newcomers, tons of replay value, and really is the gold standard for all drawing Jackbox games. Unless you shelled out dough for Drawful 2 (to reiterate Jacob’s sentiment: those bastards), Drawful is probably the only reason you are firing up this pack any more.
Genre: Wordplay (???)
JACOB’S REVIEW: Look, this is the first Jackbox. They had a lot of growing pains. Designing for a whole new medium is tricky. It makes sense that they’d make a few games that make me go “this ain’t it”, and folks, this game? This ain’t it. No real high points to this game. It makes everyone playing go “yes but what is the point of this”. That can’t be good.
JESSE’S TAKE: We are not doing F Tier, but there may need to be an exception. Because, uh, that D feels GENEROUS. Here’s how bad Word Spud is: there are nuggets hidden throughout other Jackbox materials that indicate it is their least favorite game. Their own website brags that Word Spud 2 is “coming in 3145”, and in Push The Button, D.O.D.E. sometimes says "In order to run this test, I've deleted Word Spud from the database." As if it weren’t bad enough to have hosts of other games making fun of Word Spud, Spud is one of the few Jackbox games that doesn’t even have a host. Sorry, but this is as big of a miss as you can get. Tier: F.
Players: 1-100 (!!!)
JACOB’S REVIEW: This game has one cool quirk, something that no other Jackbox game has been able to replicate in seven subsequent packs: you can have one hundred players. This was clearly designed to be put on at a bar or some other gathering so people can just play a true-false trivia game and see how they rank against up to ninety-nine other opponents. This is the only cool thing about this game. It’s otherwise a tedious and repetitive chore with unappealing graphic design. Only recommended if you want to play a Jackbox game but have too many people for the other high capacity games (Most games top out at 8, Push the Button from Pack 6 goes up to 10, and Bracketeering from Pack 4 has the second-largest overall player capacity at 16.)
JESSE’S TAKE: I want to give this a C for the 100 player capacity. We are, afterall, a collective that specializes in big bar parties where lots of people are playing a game at once. But Jacob nailed it. It is the only redeeming quality. A D feels right.
JACOB’S REVIEW: Frankly, this game is the only reason to buy Pack 1 other than Drawful. Fibbage has since been improved upon, but only in regards to graphic design and categorical diversity. This initial iteration has so few bumps and wrinkles. Honestly, my only note is I’d love cited sources for some of these bizarre factoids so I could tell the whole story at parties
JESSE’S TAKE: If you don’t want to hear about how much Jacob and I like every iteration of Fibbage, you might want to stop reading. There is a lot more gushing to come. S Tier.
JACOB’S REVIEW: Almost no change between the previous version and this one, aside from the introduction of the Defibrillator, which can be used once per game and allows you to eliminate all but one of the wrong answers (similar to the 50-50 lifeline from Who Wants to Be a Millionaire). This mechanic was not included in Fibbage 3, however, so there must have been some issue. Anyway, it’s the same.
JESSE’S TAKE: I wish I could give half grades. Fibbage as a concept is excellent, but the jump from XL to this version feels...minimal? Don’t fix what ain’t broken, I suppose, but I would like a little more innovation. That being said, I will agree with Jacob and round up to an S tier.
Genre: Funniest Wins
Sub-Genre: Audio Only
JACOB’S REVIEW: This one is a bit cerebral and it’s odd they tried something like this so early in the Packs. You’re given a short narrative and a collection of random sound effects. You select two sound effects and determine the order they’ll be played to try to most accurately reflect the narrative. A pre-selected judge determines the pair they think works the best. Basically it’s Quiplash with a morning radio host sound effects board. The sound effects in your “hand” work like cards in Cards Against Humanity in that you draw replacements after each go, which is neat. This one is a cute novelty but only worth playing if you’ve run out stuff to do in the box.
JESSE’S TAKE: I like this game! One of the (mostly) fun quirks of this is that no one can hear the sound effect before it’s selected; they only have a description. Something like “audience clapping” could end up sounding like a studio audience doing a polite clap or a crowd going wild. I’m also a sucker for all Apples to Apples style games that are NOT Cards Against Humanity, so I’m bumping this one up to B Tier.
Sub-Genre: Comprehension + Bluffing
JACOB’S REVIEW: You know how Drawful made complete sense and confused no one? I guess the people at Jackbox thought they needed to change that, so they rolled out Bidiots, where you do a couple drawings, then use in-game currency to… buy the drawings? Like in an auction? And you want to spend the least and get the most, but you aren’t sure which drawings are worth the most? It defies all understanding that they wouldn’t just make Drawful 2 in this pack. I guess they wanted to avoid too many sequels. The drawing is fun but this game is so alienating there’s almost no replay value to be had.
JESSE’S TAKE: This is barely a game. I have played it once, did not understand how to win, and had no desire to ever play it again. Please do not make me play this game again. Tier: D
Genre: Funniest Wins
JACOB’S REVIEW: The enduring legacy of the Jackbox Party Packs is more than likely the ability to write silly shit to your friends. I guess some genius realized the best part of Fibbage was coming up with funny but obviously incorrect answers, so they made a game just about that. A great way to find out which of your friends has the most problematic sense of humor.
JESSE’S TAKE: The best Jackbox games are the ones where you know, regardless of who is in the room, it is going to be a hit. Quiplash is among the best. Tier: S
Genre: Logic Puzzle
JACOB’S REVIEW: Similar to Space Team or Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, all players are given different instructions about how to diffuse a bomb and have to relay those instructions to their teammates to diffuse it safely. Every Jackbox needs an experiment, something a little different, to push the boundaries of what this format can do. Did this one succeed? No. Is it fine? Sure. It is kind of cool to have a genuine co-op logic game, and the office setting is amusing. I’m sure this is exactly what some people want out of Jackbox. But that’s not gonna be a lot of people.
JESSE’S TAKE: Bumping this up a tier for all of the reasons listed above PLUS I appreciate a Jackbox game with a “story” mode PLUS some credit should be given for the rare single player mode. A lot of “A for effort” here I will conceded, but it’s my ranking and I will do it how I please! Tier: B
Genre: Funniest Wins
JESSE’S REVIEW: The gold standard. Rather than just adding new prompts (which would have sufficed fine here), Quiplash 2 doubles down on previous versions by adding three different options for the final round (The Last Lash), the ability to make custom episodes for the particularly ambitious Jackboxers out there, and the “Safety Quip” option for the particularly cowardly ones. This last addition is extra significant, as it became a staple option in many Jackbox games to come in this genre. All that being said: they took one of the best and made it better.
JACOB’S TAKE: Full agreement! Quiplash is very much an “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” situation, and that’s exactly what they did: they fixed nothing. I’ve heard some negative opinions on the new final rounds, especially the comic one, but I see them as a fun change of pace and decent equalizer for the preceding game. Tier: S
TRIVIA MURDER PARTY
JESSE’S REVIEW: You Don’t Know Jack’s presence in earlier packs felt like an obligatory port of the company’s namesake game for the purpose of brand recognition or legacy. Trivia Murder Party is a game built with that same quirk and innovation that lead to the success of the YDKJ franchise to begin with, but with this particular form in mind. As far as trivia games go, this one is tough to beat.
JACOB’S TAKE: Yup, this is a high-level trivia experience. The horror theme adds a fun tension to the proceedings, and the straight-forward, non-comedic trivia (as opposed to YDKJ) combined with the Killing Floor mini games give this one high replayability. Tier: A
JESSE’S REVIEW: A great concept (turning Family Feud- like anecdotal data into an over/under guessing game) with dynamite packaging (a surveillance agency where the realistic noises that animal avatars players select do a lot of heavy comedic lifting) somehow results in a game that is more interesting than it is fun. It also suffers from feeling dated more than most of the Jackbox games. Questions like “when was this data pulled?” or “Is this still accurate?” can bog down a match. Guesspionage is the weakest of this (albeit, very strong) pack, and it’s not particularly close.
JACOB’S TAKE: I actually have a slightly higher opinion on this one than you do! The unique binary system makes this game significantly more accessible than other trivia games, and I get a big rush from being correct on a “much higher” or “much lower” guess. (Or landing the elusive one-out-of-one-hundred “perfect guess”, a feat I’ve only seen landed once.) I agree: I wish there were more sources cited, especially on the more dated technology-based questions. It also has less replayability than other trivia games, but I’d give this one a B.
JESSE’S REVIEW: A joyfully convoluted and ambitious game that manages to exceed expectations despite being one of the few Jackbox games that is nearly impossible to explain without just putting it on and hoping for the best. It’s almost like if Drawful and Surviving the Internet (Pack 4) had a baby that was into anime. It can be intimidating at first, but once everyone understands the sequence of things, the ceiling for how entertaining it can be is essentially non-existent.
JACOB’S TAKE: A genuine dada masterpiece. Genuinely hard to play this one and make room for the other games in the pack, which is why I always save it for last. There are too many little things that keep me from putting this game at an S: the unexplainable concept, the loose contribution requirements (“draw anything, then write anything” can be hard for the less creative folks), and the questionable competitive aspect (“do I vote for the shirt with my drawing, or my slogan, or the one that I just think is funnier?”). 1 out of 10 people straight up do not understand this game, and that’s how you figure out who in your friend group sucks. JACKBOX! Make a sequel that addresses these issues so I can give that an S! Tier: A
Genre: Social Deduction
JESSE’S REVIEW: Built on the tried and true principles of playground games like “Mafia” or “Werewolf”, Fakin’ it is one of the more social games in the Jackbox gallery, forcing players to take their eyes off their devices and look around the room in order to assess the character of their peers. The problem is that this game requires a sort of perfect environment in order to work. Not only do all the players have to be in the same room (no streaming or zoom participation), they have to be in a position where they can all see one another as well as whatever screen the game is on, and players need to all at least partially know one another in order to to be able to deduce what is or is not suspicious behavior. If most of those requirements aren’t met, this game can fall flat.
JACOB’S TAKE: Even before COVID-19 relegated us to our homes for strictly Zoom-based gaming, I didn’t care for this one. The root of social deduction games comes down to someone’s ability to keep a straight face, so you combine that with having to do something physical, and it doesn’t work. This one gets almost no rotation from my PC. I give it a C.
JESSE’S REVIEW: A new aesthetic and a few tweeks (a bonus mode and more significant audience participation) are the only things changed from the previous version aside from new prompts, and that’s fine. Fibbage is exactly what a Jackbox game is supposed to be: Easy, fun, and social. Other than maybe Quiplash, no games in the franchise tick those boxes as easily or as consistently as Fibbage.
JACOB’S TAKE: I’m going to assume Jesse is experiencing a major life transition or some other traumatic event because if he wasn’t he would have remembered to include that Fibbage 3’s bonus mode, Fibbage Enough About You, is specifically geared toward answering personal questions and seeing how much you know (and can lie about) the other players. And it’s… y’know, fine. Not a black mark against this game, which is overall improved with simpler rules and a bangin’ new retro aesthetic. Top marks. Tier: S
SURVIVE THE INTERNET
Genre: Funniest Wins
JESSE’S REVIEW: Although the name is a bit of a turnoff (maybe it is just me, but I hate when something refers vaguely to “the internet”), this is way more entertaining than it has any right to be. One of the elements of this game (and others like it in the series) that shines is the fact that both contributing players are rewarded with points if they contributed any portion to the winning response. The vaguely collaborative element encourages folks to set up their friends for a spike.
JACOB’S TAKE: Of the comedic Jackbox games, while this one is solid, it lacks the accessibility I prioritize in a joke machine. The setting is a little confusing, and while the good jokes always rise to the top, it can often be challenging to understand what you’re supposed to write, and when. It’s just too much business, and falters when compared to such straight-up joke machines as Quiplash and Joke Boat (from Pack 6). I’d give this one a B.
MONSTER SEEKING MONSTER
Genre: Social Deduction
JESSE’S REVIEW: This is one of those “can be good with the right crowd” Jackbox games. It’s a little too high concept for everyone’s tastes, and not having played before (and therefore not knowing the different power sets other monsters may have) puts you at a severe disadvantage. Also, the private message element feels like it only works if you really know the group you are playing with well. Much like actual online dating, this one leaves a little to be desired.
JACOB’S TAKE: This is interesting. I also don’t rate this game very highly, but for completely different reasons. I find the gameplay opaque and chaotic, and have seen that victory can be attained through pure chance, as evidenced by the time Trashed TV played on stream and the audience won. (Yup.) Reading the text exchanges between players is very funny, but it’s a whole lot of sound and fury building to a somewhat hollow-feeling victory. Worth playing once as a novelty. Tier: B
Genre: Funniest Wins
JESSE’S REVIEW: Bonus points for the high player cap here (16), but otherwise this one comes off as a good idea with just average execution. People love brackets! I love brackets! But prompts like “Best Grandma Name” or “a skill that everyone should try to master” don’t leave a lot of room for fun or funny responses, and the blind rounds feel like they miss the mark more often than not. The fun of subjective brackets (best candy, most transcendent pop stars, etc) is the discussion that comes along with it. This game has everything but that.
JACOB’S TAKE: I agree. Admittedly, this is the game I’ve played the least (we may have to amend that before publishing this article), but my one play-through felt rote and simple. And yes, you should have the time to argue your cases, which this thrill-a-minute style doesn’t allow! Fully skippable, unless you have 10+ people to entertain. Tier: D
JESSE’S REVIEW: As far as the drawing games go, this one isn’t quite as funny as Tee K.O., and doesn’t feel as polished as Drawful, but it does do two things really well: It is incredibly easy to understand, and it is wonderfully collaborative. Drawing games can be intimidating, especially when someone you are playing with has real artistic talent (ugh), but the beauty of Civic Doodle is the ability to piggyback off of the greatness of others.
JACOB’S TAKE: You know, I really like this one, but if we’re comparing it to the aforementioned drawing games from previous entries, yeah, it’s not as good. I like the collaborative elements and it’s amusing to see how two (or more) people will look at the same drawing and think of completely different things to add, but there’s a few little niggling elements that keep this from being on the A-tier (the random way they handle ties, obnoxious hosts, overly long, and, a very unnecessary scoring system). I still bust it out every time we play Pack 4, though. Tier: B
YOU DON’T KNOW JACK: FULL STREAM
JESSE’S REVIEW: A bump up from the YDKJ appearing in the first party pack with double the amount of allowable players. The “evil corporation” narrative is fun enough, and the added accessibility for streaming is a nice inclusion that will only affect a small fraction of players, but at the end of the day, with all due respect to the face of the franchise, Trivia Murder Party is still the better trivia option.
JACOB’S TAKE: Yes, I agree. The comedy question aspects are a nice return to form (in contrast with the more serious Trivia Murder Party) but the Binjtube “evil corporation” running gag really only serves to the fans of the previous iterations. Jackbox has progressed beyond these types of shenanigans. Tier: B
SPLIT THE ROOM
Genre: Social Deduction
JESSE’S REVIEW: Really great concept and fun Twilight Zone aesthetic. Can be legitimately challenging and is like a bizzaro “would you rather” where you are not trying to be a nasty freak, and instead trying to toe the line of social acceptability. The big knock on this game is that when Jackbox is at its best, it does all these things while providing opportunities to double over in laughter with your friends. Split the Room is less “haha” and more “oh that’s funny”.
JACOB’S TAKE: On the real real? This is maybe my favorite Jackbox game ever. The feeling of a full room split is the most satisfaction I’ve ever taken away from one of these games. It does help if you know the group, but getting that split without that knowledge is even better! It’s funny, it’s weird, it’s smart, the host isn’t annoying, and the victory feels earned. This is an S-tier for me.
MAD VERSE CITY
Genre: Funniest Wins
JESSE’S REVIEW: One of the few Jackbox “funniest wins” games where you know who you're going up against before even writing, and are encouraged by the nature of the game to attack them if you are so inclined, which makes for some interesting (and sometimes tense) back and forth between players. It also means that if you are playing with folks you don’t know that well, things are potentially going to be awkward, or painfully unfunny. Mostly, it feels like Joke Boat with iambic pentameter.
JACOB’S TAKE: There are great moments in Mad Verse City, but, not gonna lie, they’re few and far between. You’re supposed to be doing disses like you’re in a rap battle, but some people just aren’t that mean. Plus, when you know who you’re voting for, unconscious biases can come into play and allow players to dominate unfairly. Rapping robots makes fun a fun novelty but I won’t open this one up more than I have to. Tier: C
JESSE’S REVIEW: Like an impromptu Shark Tank pitch, but with drawing! The presentation element of this game is going to make or break how much fun you have depending on your crew. Requiring clever word-play, purposeful drawing, and a performance means that this game has a higher barrier for entry than others, but it is still straight forward enough to pick up and play, and with the right group can be excellent.
JACOB’S TAKE: I don’t view this as highly as you, my man. As much as I like the various moving parts (including the presentation aspect), the prompts get kind of same-y, and very often multiple players make the same joke in the final round, making it really just a drawing contest. Plus, like Civic Doodle, the hosts are very irritating and distract from the fun we’re trying to have. This gets a B from me.
JESSE’S REVIEW: Finally, a Jackbox for the gamers! Zeeple feels far more like an honest to goodness video game than any other entry in the franchise. Using intuitive Angry Bird style launch mechanics and in an arena full of bumpers with up to six people is wonderful chaos, and this is maybe the only Jackbox game that I would ever utilize the option to play by myself (lol nerd). All of that being said, most folks booting up a party pack are doing so for some sort of social or comedy element, and not to see how quickly they can calculate launch angles.
JACOB’S TAKE: I agree. This one is a blast and a big departure from the rest of the series. A great high-energy party game with the right crew. The only thing keeping it from being on the S-tier is that… this isn’t really what Jackbox is for. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great, and I love to see them experimenting with the form with games like this, but Jackbox exists to break up the Charades-Pictionary-Trivial Pursuit routine. It’s like how The Emperor’s New Groove is a great movie that doesn’t mesh with the rest of the Disney canon. Or Link’s Awakening with the rest of the Legend of Zelda games! (Is that better?) Tier: A
TRIVIA MURDER PARTY 2
JACOB’S REVIEW: The first TMP proved that Jackbox could do fun, different trivia games that weren’t YOU DON’T KNOW JACK. This one adds a few new Killing Floor mini games and some dorky/unnecessary bits involving costume elements for your little sackboy avatar, but overall can only be considered an improvement over the previous iteration.
JESSE’S TAKE: Jacob hit all the points here. For sure an improvement, but does not quite edge it into the elite of the elite, call it an A+ Tier if you must.
Genre: Social… Determination?
JACOB’S REVIEW: You know how you’ll have a friend group, and you’ll decide who in that friend group is what character from a TV show or something? Like who’s the Chandler from Friends, or who’s the Samantha from Sex and the City, or who’s the Ron from Undeclared? (By the way, I’m all of those, that’s me.) Well, Jackbox tried to make a game of that. It’s not really competitive, and it’s not really scientific, and it seems to only exist to give your friends dumb nicknames and make inside jokes with the shelf-life of a week. Once the game ends, no one is sure who won, or what happened, or why we didn’t just play another round of JOKE BOAT. Also, every other game on the pack can have at least 8 players but this one weirdly cuts off at 6?
JESSE’S TAKE: Much better in concept than in execution. I sat down to write this and thought “Oh, have I not played this one somehow?” and then looked it up and realized I had, it was just incredibly forgettable. C Tier feels right here.
Genre: Funniest Wins
JACOB’S REVIEW: On paper, this shouldn’t work. It’s QUIPLASH but more limiting, or MAD VERSE CITY without the rhymes. But to be honest, this game makes me laugh. Being painted into a corner and forced to come up with silly punchlines for bizarre, stream-of-consciousness set-ups lights a bit of a fire under your butt, creatively. It’s not the strongest comedy-based game in JBPP history, but it’s a good swing.
JESSE’S TAKE: In a vacuum, this game is so off putting. If this is the first Jackbox game you played, you might not ever play another. However, when your group is loosened up enough, and you finally crack open Joke Boat, somehow, unbelievably so, it works. The best argument for B Tier here is Jacob’s line: “This game makes me laugh”. It’s not much, but sometimes, it’s all you need.
Genre: Funniest Wins
JACOB’S REVIEW: 3-8
Review: This is a weird one. It’s basically QUIPLASH for the literary set. The format isn’t as slick of a machine, as one funny-but-poorly-phrased answer being selected throws off the chain of events that move the game along, and the premise doesn’t lend itself to a lot of replay. Best case scenario, you’ll get a silly inside joke out of it.
JESSE’S TAKE: Maybe it’s just me, but this game has never felt particularly fun or funny. It’s just sort of a chore. A less clever vessel for all of you and your friends’ boner jokes than the several other boner-joke-vessels in the JBPP gallery. Tier: D.
PUSH THE BUTTON
Genre: Social Deduction
JACOB’S REVIEW: HOT TAKE this is better than Among Us. While Among Us has amusing animations and works without people being able to literally talk to one another, this game uses smarter, more personal social deduction techniques and a stressful timer to keep the pressure on the astronauts to determine the aliens amongst them. Lots of replayability and an EXCELLENT utilization of the personal device, as your phone keeps a log of all in-game activity for easy reference.
JESSE’S TAKE: Maybe the only considerable disagreement Jacob and I have in this Tier list. I do not like Among Us very much (whatever, get over it) and I think Among Us is far more fun than this. The social deduction games Jacob talks about here can be hit or miss (some insist that there are games that reveal essentially nothing, and should be ignored all together), and the rules of the game itself can be confusing even after several replays (what are the imposters able to do? Which of the games reveals what?) Also, LOL to a game where the WHOLE thing is a timed mission, often the worst stage of any video game that has one. I will give credit for the tasty design of the game, and Jacob is right about how well the device is utilized, but otherwise, Push the Button absorbs so much time and energy for little payoff. Tier: C.
Genre: Funniest Wins
JESSE’S REVIEW: A fresh claymation paint job and replacing the last round with “Thrip Lash”, which is essentially “what if the comedy rule of threes was a game” are the only big changes here, which is absolutely fine. Quiplash remains undefeated.
JACOB’S TAKE: Can I be real for a second? I don’t love the Thrip Lash. I think it’s a little opaque to new players and people just put whatever. I’m a MUCH bigger fan of the Acro Lash and Comic Lash from Quiplash 2. However, the prompts in this one are very strong, and the claymation aesthetic is very charming. Plus, it’s Quiplash! You can’t fuck up Quiplash.
THE DEVILS AND THE DETAILS
Genre: Social Deduction
JESSE’S REVIEW: Some Jackbox games thrive on chaos, and The Devil and the Details is one of the best iterations of that. Sort of a high barrier for entry because of the various elements (family score, personal score, collaborative minigames, etc.), but once everyone has the hang of it, it can make for a highly entertaining time, while also telling you A LOT about the people you are playing with. Bonus points here for different roles, which adds to the replayability.
JACOB’S TAKE: WOW! This is a HARD disagree from me. I found the concept humorous and I love a good co-op game, but this was not a time I enjoyed. The little chore mini games amounted to just “swipe and tap your screen in different ways” and having everyone yell across to each other (especially when playing virtually, without everyone in the same space) got a little unruly. I also felt that there was too much time spent looking at your phone and less at the common screen. I’ve played other games like this (Space Team) so I understand Jackbox’s attempt to enter the collaborative hidden role marketplace, but man, did it have to be this way?
JESSE’S REVIEW: Tee K.O. is my favorite game of this entire franchise, but it didn’t get an S Tier ranking from me because I know it’s not for everyone. The fact that there are no prompts is intimidating to folks. The whole thing being a T-shirt competition is...confusing. Champ’d Up delivers a similar play experience and addresses those concerns without sacrificing much in the way of personality or fun. Like a diet Tee K.O..The prompts can be hit or miss, but that is almost always the case with Jackbox games.
JACOB’S TAKE: Of course this is where the bias comes to play. I’m a big wrestling dork, and I’ve been drawing little monsters that only exist to fight each other since grade school. The way prompts are issued to give each artist a match where they have an advantage and a disadvantage is nice and balanced, and the tag-team aspect of the second round adds a cool element of “go big or go home” risk-taking. I agree that it can be a little daunting to newcomers and still heavily favors people who are skilled illustrators, but I still love firing this one up every time.
Genre: Funniest Wins
JESSE’S REVIEW: Some people get anxiety from public speaking. Me? I get anxiety watching people do improv when they did not want to, did not expect to, or, worst of all, are not nearly as good at it as they think they are. And that’s ok! I am also not good at improv! In my experience this game is way more miss than hit.
JACOB’S TAKE: Damn this is a polarizing box for us! I really liked Talking Points. True, it requires a certain level of public speaking confidence, but with a good prompter and an amusing topic, you can have some really great moments. This game doesn’t rank super high for me because it is not for everyone and, like Role Models or Monster Seeking Monster, should only be played with people who are ready for it, but it can really spice up a party.
Genre: Social Deduction
JESSE’S REVIEW: One of the most traditional board game feeling Jackbox games, probably because it is basically a cross between Taboo and Madlibs. Easy enough to pick up and decently fun, Blather ‘Round is the Jackbox game that you play when you are burnt out on the game that you actually wanted to play in the pack. Nobody’s favorite, but not particularly offensive either.
JACOB’S TAKE: This is a weird one. I like the “traditional board game” feel along with the limited ability of the prompter plus the unlimited guessability of the guessers. However, I can’t rank this one highly because the first time I played, I missed the entire first round because I had to take the dog out, and ended up winning the whole game. It’s a neat idea that’s friendly to trivia fans and non-trivia heads alike, but the scoring system is odd and sometimes the poor word options (or bad choices from the prompter) makes it frustrating. So yeah. Give it a shot, but don’t expect too much.
JACOB’S REVIEW: After such a long wait, we finally get another entry in the super-popular Drawful series, and with a new wrinkle: animation! By doing two drawings (one layered on top of the other), you make a mini flipbook that alternates between the images, creating the illusion of movement. It’s a good and different twist that allows this version to function in a separate space than the previous iterations. However, this game suffers from a degree of sequelitus: you can’t properly enjoy this installment unless you have experienced the previous one. It’s a fun game and a perfect follow-up to one of the best games in the history of the franchise, but it’s still a follow-up.
JESSE’S TAKE: I feel like for as long as they took to rehash this one, I’m a little…disappointed? The animation component doesn’t detract at all, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it adds a ton, and I would argue that some of the comedy of being presented with a particularly bad drawing or insane prompt can be lost with the added element of animation. It’s still a great time, don’t get me wrong, but no real improvement from the original.
THE WHEEL OF ENORMOUS PROPORTIONS
JACOB’S REVIEW: Alas, this is the first true clunker in the Jackbox trivia games. I admire its unique approach to trivia questions. Instead of simple multiple choice, there are various question formats: Selecting correct answers from a list of 12, matching, giving numerical estimates, or guessing quickly based on a series of clues. These are fun! However, the Wheel itself is highly problematic and makes the game feel... kind of pointless. Both times I’ve played, the person who first earns enough points to spin the Winner’s Wheel doesn’t win, and the second person wins instead, incentivising players to not perform as well as possible in the trivia to avoid the first place spot. There’s already a fair amount of chance in a trivia game just because of what categories could be included. We don’t need this on top of it.
JESSE’S TAKE: Echo all of the sentiments above and will add that the wheel adds a component to the game that is unnecessarily convoluted. If you have read this far, you know how much I value a game that is easy to understand right away. The concept of using points to buy real estate on a wheel that (as Jacob points out) might end up entirely worthless is confusing even on a second or third playthrough. It’s a shame because I do think the different types of questions in the game are a really fun wrinkle.
Genre: Funniest Wins
JACOB’S REVIEW: This one can be tricky to wrap your head around but once you get it going it’s a hoot. You drag and drop words from other players’ responses to various essay questions to form your own answers to job interview questions, and the other players vote on the best answer of that second round (like Quiplash, etc.). The challenge of using random words in your answer can sometimes be a headache but seeing a word you wrote used in a completely different context is a rare treat. After a few minutes of awkwardness as you try to understand the format, you’re in for a good time.
JESSE’S TAKE: My favorite of this pack by a wide margin and, if not for the slightly high-concept nature (It’s like Bizarro Madlibs!) it would be an easy S-Tier for me. The prompts are fun, the packaging (an interview for an office job complete with Microsoft Word clipart font and randomly generated motivational posters) is perfect, and it can be a wonderful experience for folks who struggle with the more creative games, since all the words are right there for you to pick from.
THE POLL MINE
Genre: Social Analysis
JACOB’S REVIEW: This is one of the strongest, weirdest, and coolest new concepts Jackbox has rolled out in a while. You have to deduce the popularity of various things as ranked by the other players. It leads to some incredibly amusing and unique conversations and serves as a great way to learn more about the other players. When you get a correct answer, the feeling of satisfaction is unlike anything else Jackbox can offer. The lone drawback is continuous wrong answers can make the game feel kind of interminable and sometimes it just ends in an anticlimactic fashion, but if you get a good game cooking, it’s top notch.
JESSE’S TAKE: I really want to like this one more. It takes my complaints about Guesspionage (where are these poll results even from?) and turns them back onto the player (they are from you, dummy!). Jacob is right about the conversations, and there is an interesting dynamic of “how much do I reveal about how I voted, knowing that the other team is listening in and gets to take a turn next?” These conversations even resulted in one of the funnier clips we have had for this very channel! But in addition to the issue of several wrong answers sucking the wind out of things, the prompts are imperfect (what order do I rank “brush teeth” in my shower routine if I don’t do that in the shower?), and more often than not I feel like I am competing more against my own team than the actual opponent. This could be a me problem.
Genre: Social Deduction
JACOB’S REVIEW: This is thus far the only Jackbox game so complicated they have a little tutorial for you to read on your phone before it starts. (Smart move, frankly; other games could use that.) It’s a murder mystery party where you have to:
1) Give your “invited” guest a silly name.
2) Draw the murder weapon in a doodle that must incorporate a letter of the alphabet from your name, leaving it behind as a “clue”.
3) Kill someone else’s guest by guessing who gave them that name.
4) Solve the murder by analyzing the murder weapon drawings to determine who drew it and therefore was the murderer.
And you get points if you kill or solve. It’s a lot of little things. It’s novel, I’ll give it that, but the game gets sort of same-y after a few plays and after you start to recognize the drawing quirks of the other players. Worth checking out once or twice but nothing too exciting.
JESSE’S TAKE: I played this game with a room full of mostly intelligent people and we could not figure it out. I read Jacob’s simplified instructions above and still can’t really parse what I am supposed to be doing, how I am supposed to be doing it, and why it is supposed to be fun. If I wanted that experience, I would play Settlers of Catan. Only reason it isn’t an F is because I am clearly not having the intended experience.
GAMES SORTED BY TIER
(in the event of a disagreement, games are given the average of Jacob and Jesse’s scores)
Fibbage XL (1)
Fibbage 2 (2)
Quiplash XL (2)
Quiplash 2 (3)
Fibbage 3 (4)
Quiplash 3 (7)
Split the Room (5)
Trivia Murder Party (3)
Tee K.O. (3)
Zeeple Dome (5)
Trivia Murder Party 2 (6)
Drawful Animate (8)
Survive the Internet (4)
Patently Stupid (5)
Champ’d Up (7)
The Poll Mine (8)
Job Job (8)
You Don’t Know Jack 2015 (1)
Civic Doodle (4)
You Don’t Know Jack Full Stream (5)
Joke Boat (6)
Push the Button (6)
The Devils and the Details (7)
Bomb Corp (2)
Fakin’ It (3)
Monster Seeking Monster (4)
Mad Verse City (5)
Role Models (6)
Talking Points (7)
Blather Round (7)
Wheel of Enormous Proportions (8)
Weapons Drawn (8)
Lie Swatter (1)
Word Spud (1)