Tuesday, October 19, 2010

That's the name of the game

Normally, this blog exists as a forum for me solely to amuse myself (and theoretically others) with thoughts on my weekends and cat. However, every so often I do seek to inform and enlighten. Don't worry, I'm not going to offer you my thoughts on the upcoming midterm elections; I may wear the hats of a book blogger or food blogger at times, but one thing I can promise to never become is a politics blogger. No, my blogger intentions are far more trifling than that. Today, for example I wish to sing the praises of a particular board game.

About a week ago, I impulse bought Liebrary from Barnes and Noble. (It's a sad fact that I always go into Barnes and Noble in Union Square just to kill time before meeting friends, and yet always come out buying something I likely don't need). The premise of the game is very similar to the game Balderdash. For those of my readers who, for whatever unfortunate reason, haven't played Balderdash (or the simpler Dictionary Game, from which it is derived), the rules are fairly simple. You are given a person, acronym, date, or word and have to come up with something plausible the person would have become famous for, what the acronym stands for, what famous event occured on the date, or the definition for the word respectively. Players then have to choose which they think is the correct answer (the correct answer is also given as one of the choices), and players get points both for choosing correctly and for having their answer chosen by others. Liebrary is the same concept except that it specifically deals with the first lines of books. Categories include: Classics, Romances, Sci-fi and Horror, Children's books, and General Fiction. Players are given the name, author and a basic plot and make up what they think the first line is (or at the very least: should be).

The game was co-designed by actress Darryl Hannah, for those who require a celebrity pedigree with their board games.

This weekend I made it a personal goal to invite friends to my apartment and get them just liquored up enough that they'd play this game with me. The first occasion happened organically and required very little effort on my part as my roommate happened to be inviting people over for vegan cassoulet (the perfect accompaniment to which is a get-together game encouraging full bodied, young red). However, while fun, this inaugural playing of the game was not enough to satisfy my lust for board games in general and writing silly first-liners specifically, so I invited several friends over for brunch the next day too. A few mimosas in, and we had another excellent game of Liebrary going.

Having played the game twice now, I feel qualified to blog about its merits. Full disclosure, I am something of a board game (and game in general) nut. I've been known to invite people for dinner with the express purpose of trying to coerce them into playing charades at some point in the night. I can be manipulative and perhaps a little too quick to refill the wine, but most of my friends know what to expect at this point. With that in mind, I fully recommend Liebrary to anyone looking for some good, clean, albeit somewhat nerdy, fun. Several friends expressed concern that they wouldn't be skilled at the game because they aren't avid readers, but it's really a moot point. Even though I'd read many of the classics in that category, and many of the children's books as well, I found by-and-large that the first line never sounded as familiar as I felt it should. Case in point, all my readers have probably read (or viewed) Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, but who can immediately recall the first line? (To save you the trouble of googling it, the first line--disregarding the memorable prologue--is the none-too-memorable: "Gregory, o' my word, we'll not carry coals.")

The only downside to the game is the name. While clever (well, by board game name standards anyway) written out, when pronounced I realized I kept trying to say it differently then just simply saying "library," but there isn't really a way to distinguish it phonetically. For some reason, I kept saying the illogical "li-bary" which in addition to not matching the spelling of the name of the game at all, caused friends to question my literacy. Overall though, the clunkiness of inviting friends to "play Lie-brary, but see, there's an extra 'e' in it, so it's Lie-brary...Lie and then brary...get it?" is far outweighed by the simple joy of a night of creative game play.


  1. Now see I LOVE games - we just had friends over this weekend for Apples to Apples. And Balderdash is my favorite! This one looks cool!!!

  2. I think you could put heavy emphasis on the first syllable (LIE-brary)to help distinguish the game's title from the originating word. Clearly I will need to acquire this game in preparation for Thanksgiving.

  3. haha i love this post and i want to play this game!

  4. I would gladly play Liebrary with you, but only after a stroll about the garden.