The Game

9upper is a party game from Hong Kong, and it is in Traditional Chinese. Initially I didn’t understand the name and I wondered whether it was supposed to be a variation of the word supper. Only after I learned that it is from Hong Kong that I understood the humour behind the English name. It is based on the Cantonese phrase “9-up” which a colloquial way of saying “talk rubbish”. BS, if you will. 

9upper is nominally a trivia game, because there is trivia in the game, but more accurately speaking it is a lying game. If you happen to know the obscure trivia in the game, you will have an advantage, but the game may not be fun. Here’s how the game works. 

The cards in the game have a term or phrase on the card back, and a description of what the team means on the front. The game comes with a huge stack of cards will all sorts of obscure facts, related to history, arts, geography, politics, biology. Every round, one player takes the role of the judge, and the judge’s identity is open information. The identities of the others must be kept secret. Among them one plays the genuine and the rest are liars. 

Only one card will be used each round. Everyone except the judge takes a turn to pick up the card and read the description. The genuine player simply reads the passage as is, but the liars must say something else. They must pretend to read and try to convince the judge that they are actually reading from the card. After all the reading is done, the judge tries to pick who is genuine. If the correct person is picked, both judge and genuine score points. If a liar is picked, that liar scores points. If the judge is positive that certain players are liars, he can do a side bet, condemning these liars. If he turns out to be right, these condemned liars lose points. However if he is wrong about one of them who turns out to be genuine, he himself suffers a stiff penalty. 

You play a number of rounds depending on the number of players. Once done, the highest scorer wins. 

The Play

This is a game with high player interaction. It challenges you to speak like you know stuff when you don’t know anything. How good a liar, or con-sultant, are you? This can be hilarious when people conjure very convincing stories. This is not actually a trivia game. If the judge knows the obscure term for the round, the game doesn’t actually work. He will easily make the right judgement based on his knowledge. That’s no fun and that’s missing the point. What this means is there is a lifespan to the game. Once you’ve played it enough times and know most of the terms, it doesn’t quite work anymore. That’s why you need 9upper 2 and 9upper 3

In the group I played with, we discussed the problem of how difficult it is for liars to lie. They have to pretend to read the card by moving their eyeballs line by line while at the same time spewing nonsense which sounds sensible. That’s hard! Eventually we played using a different procedure. Before a round started, we closed our eyes for 20 seconds so that the genuine player could take a look at the card. When the round started, we didn’t pass the card around. We just took turns to explain the term on the card. This made it a little easier for the liars. 

The Thoughts

This is the rowdy type of game, a party game. It works well at boardgame cafes. This is more of an extrovert’s game. It helps when you are good at talking and making things up on the spot. If you are an introvert this may be challenging. But it may be just the kind of game that’ll be helpful to you. It certainly trains you to be more outspoken and creative. 9upper is a good ice-breaker. The variety of topics can trigger interesting discussions. 

Categories: Reviews

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