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Hello!

I'm Erik. This is a blog about modern board, card, role-playing games and the culture around it.

The title On Golden Age refers to the time we are living in: a renaissance of social and face-to-face gaming.

My photo is by Rachel Hadiashar.
All other photography is by me unless otherwise noted.

WHAT'S THAT SMELL? There's a Foul Plot Afoot.

WHAT'S THAT SMELL? There's a Foul Plot Afoot.

When I was a kid, I recall seeing a game called What's Cookin', a simple roll-and-move affair where player visit restaurants on a game-board and try to figure out what food they serve based on scratch-n-sniff cards. I’ve wondered if anyone would made a modern game using scents. I wonder no more, as I present to you WowWee's What's That Smell, a game that utilizes your olfactory system - for better or for worse.

The first open of this modestly-sized box took a bit of gut fortitude. My nose was greeted with a pungent bouquet blended from dozens of scent cards packed into the insert. All together it smells like cat pee, no joke. The odor is strong enough that you'll probably want to keep the lid on as much as possible. Fortunately, when the box is closed, the odor is non-detectable. The game has been in my office for a few weeks, and I haven't smelled a thing.

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The bulk of the game is taking turns sniffing little folded scent cards. Every player gets one with a little number plastic holder (nice touch.) Give the card a few brushes with the provided thin cardboard tokens (don't use your fingers!) and bask in the glorious aroma.

As advertised, players try to guess the smell. In addition, the rules ask players to pick from some categorical descriptions of the smell and write any respective memory associations. Five points are earned for a correct guess; three points for close guesses, one point for getting the category right, and bonus points to whomever has the funniest memory - subjectively judged by the other players. As you may have figured, there isn't a ton of game or strategy here.

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The scents were difficult; I don't remember guessing any correctly. My response after knowing the answer was more "Oh I can see that, I guess" rather than "Oh, yeah, I should have known." It helps to think of the scent as an idea of a particular thing, rather than a straight replication.

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The game concludes after all the player's cards have been sniffed and guessed. Whoever scores the highest wins the game and gets to pick a victim to smell one of four super gross-out "Whiff of Shame" cards, ideally recording the event for social media posterity and LOLs. The marketing copy sure loves these four cards; mentioning them at every opportunity on the Amazon page.

 Sealed “Whiff of Shame” cards with provided storage baggies.

Sealed “Whiff of Shame” cards with provided storage baggies.

What's That Smell has some upside. It's fairly novel in its scope and has a nice package. It is not expensive; about $20. The game did spark interesting conversations, and we had a few good laughs. It's a gross-out game without being overly rude or offensive. It ticks all the boxes on what a simple party game is supposed to do. It just doesn't do enough for me to revisit it, but I can see folks having a blast playing as an icebreaker or maybe home-brewing it to a "game show" format at a large party or a bar.

GAME ON.

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The Cheesecake Factory and the Paradox of Choice

The Cheesecake Factory and the Paradox of Choice