The Origins of TWTOT
One hour lunch breaks in my office mean there is one hour to spend watching Hulu or with talking with the co-workers. I prefer to spend them with my co-workers because they are fun people, and because a quite enjoyable and unique trivia game has developed. I am the usual host, or supreme commander, of this game and over time we have come up with a bunch of rules, twists, and variations to the standard trivia game.
I introduce to you, Trivia with a Twist or Two, or TWTOT: Trivia will never be the same again.
The Elements of TWTOT
- The Host
- The Questions
- The Contestants
- Merit Badges/Punishments
The host is the preeminent authority in TWTOT. They control the scoring, the pace, and keeping track of the rules. This means they can give Points, Merit Badges, and Punishments at will. It is important the Host keeps the game interesting, by penalizing the snarky, rewarding the spunky, and keeping the less interested interested. It can be argued this game is better if the Host has an agenda to keep the top players at bay, by using scoring tactics to plant seeds of frustration in Contestants heads.
Generally any questions will do. Trivial Pursuit Cards will work, and there is a good resource of questions located at triviaplaying.com. As the Host, I have found it handy to use my smart phone to read the questions from.
Any number of contestants can play TWTOT. Contestants must abide by any directives made by the Host, or risk being ‘warned!’ (for an explanation on ‘warned!’, see the section on Punishments).
The Host begins each round by announcing the category for the questions in play and announces the scoring variation in use. The Host then proceeds to ask a trivia question. The Contestants will then have three guesses total to answer the question correctly. An individual contestant may take multiple guesses per question, so long as the total number of guesses doesn’t exceed three as a group of contestants. Once the question is answered correctly, or all three guesses have been used up, the Host will mark the scores received, and then read another question.
EXAMPLE: If Tim rattles off three straight guesses, no other contestants will be able to guess at the correct answer, even if Joe knows the correct answer. If on the next question, Tim rattles off two guesses, and Jake guesses incorrectly on the third guess, Joe still cannot guess at the question.
The game will proceed for as long as the Host deems necessary. The final question format is determined by the variation.
To date, there are three scoring variations of TWTOT. Original Recipe, Point Swap, and For Charity. It is easiest to use a Whiteboard or chalkboard to calculate the points.
This is the traditional format for scoring TWTOT in which the other two variations are based. Correct answers on the first guess are worth 20pts, 15pts for the second guess, and 10pts on the third guess. Incorrect answers should not be penalized. If all 3 guesses are used without a correct answer then the Host will read the correct answer and move on to the next question.
When it comes time for the final question, each Contestant makes a numeric bid. The Host will determine the acceptable range of bidding. If the Contestant answers the question correctly they get the points they bid. If it is incorrect, they DO NOT lose the points they bid, their score remains stagnant. The final question is read aloud by the host and the contestants will whisper their answer to the host, so others may not hear. Answering out loud in this round equals an automatic ‘warned! (x4)’
Point Swap is insane and requires excellent scorekeeping abilities from the Host. Correct answers on the first guess are worth 20pts, 15pts for the second guess, and 10pts on the third guess. For every incorrect guess, the Contestant who made the incorrect guess must give 5 pts to another Contestant in the game. If all 3 guesses are used without a correct answer then the Host will read the correct answer and move on to the next question.
EXAMPLE: If Tim has 30 total points, and guesses incorrectly, Tim must choose who to give 5 points to. In this case, he gives 5 points to Jake, and Tim will still have 30 points.
When it comes time for the final question, each Contestant will choose another Contestant on the Scorecard to give ALL of their points to in the case they answer the question incorrectly. There is no splitting of points. If the Contestant answers the question correctly their score is doubled. If it is an incorrect answer, the Contestant’s points are transferred to the player they designated. However, the Contestant will always keep the same amount of points they came into the round with. The final question is read aloud by the host and the contestants will whisper their answer to the host, so others may not appear. Answering out loud in this round equals an automatic ‘warned! (x4)’.
EXAMPLE: Tim has 100 pts and Jake has 40 pts at the time of the Final Question. Jake chooses to give his points to Tim, and Tim to Jake. Jake answers the final question correctly and Tim does not. Jake gets an additional 40pts for the correct answer and gets 100pts from Tim. So 40+40+100=180pts. Tim will end the game with 100pts.
Sometimes the Host may be in a charitable mood or simply tired of keeping track of the points in Point Swap. Correct answers on the first guess are worth 20pts, 15pts for the second guess, and 10pts on the third guess. Incorrect answers should not be penalized. If all 3 guesses are used without a correct answer then the Host will give 10pts to Charity.
Final Question: If the Contestant answers the final question correctly they get the all the points in Charity. The Charity pot is not split. If it is incorrect, they DO NOT lose any points, their score remains stagnant. The final question is read aloud by the host and the contestants will whisper their answer to the host, so others may not appear. Answering out loud in this round equals an automatic ‘warned! (x4)’
EXAMPLE: At the time of the Final Question, Tim has 100 pts, Jake has 40 pts, and there are 70pts in Charity. Jake answers the final question correctly and Tim does not. Jake gets 70pts from Charity. So 40+70=110pts. Tim will end the game with 100pts.If they both answer the question correctly, they would each receive 70pts. So Tim would end up 170pts to Jake’s 110.
In all three variations of TWTOT there are special bonuses that are taken into account.
- When a Contestant leaves the game space their points must go somewhere. They will not lose their points and remain on the scorecard. If playing Point Swap, the Contestant will chose who their points will go to. Example: Jake needs to leave to use the restroom. He has 100pts, He needs to determine who he is going to give 100pts to, he CAN split them in this instance, so he gives 20 to Carl, Joe, Tim, and Callin. When he comes back, he will still have 100pts. If playing For Charity, the points will be given to Charity. Example: Jake needs to leave to use the restroom. He has 100pts, 100pts will then go to Charity. He will still have 100pts upon his return.
- Double Point Questions: At any point in the game the Host may declare the next question worth Double Points. It tends to work best if the Host chooses a reason why. Like if the person in the previous question is from Chicago, then the points for the next question are doubled. It’s important to for the Host to be consistent in offering double points.
Merit Badges and Punishments are kept track of on the scorecard underneath the players score. They are given at the Host’s discretion. Merit Badges are more badges of honor than anything else. In For Charity, each reward and punishment that is accumulated throughout the game will mean that 10pts are added to Charity before the final question is read. Consider them Community Service Hours.
The Host may give out a ‘warned!’ for a Contestant deemed out of line by the Host at any point in the game. A fourth ‘warned!’ means the Contestant’s score is divided by four. Any further ‘warned!’s will result in continued division of the player’s score by the number of ‘warned!’s earned. This is the only way to actually lose points in TWTOT.
*Note: If playing Point Swap, the divided points will be distributed to another Contestant, at the ‘warned(x4)’ Contestant’s discretion. In For Charity, the remainder of points lost will be given to Charity.
The Host can add these at will. Here are some that have worked to date.
- zing: Given for a good zinger
- burn: If a Contestant burns another contestant real good.
- burned: If a Contestant was on the receiving end of another Contestant’s burn
- monologue: If a Contestant is caught in a long story or explanation that holds up the pace of the game
- *: Only if one is needed for the official record.
There is actually a lot of strategy that goes into this game. It is quite possible to have zero trivia knowledge and still walk away a winner. However, those that are good at trivia will still find a way. Answer questions correctly and you will find success. Answer incorrectly and you can get in the way of those that do answer questions correctly. There is a real wisdom in this game. If you do give this game a try, please let me know how it goes. I’d like to hear any variations, bonuses, and merit badges that you may have used. Enjoy!