Oink Games month continues! We’ve got a party game this time, which isn’t normally my wheelhouse, but, all Oink Games are my wheelhouse (except for Modern Art) (and Moneybags, I guess), so, I should at least give it a shot. Oink Games month will continue until at least 12/23, which is exciting, but it may also hit 12/30, depending on how things go at PAX Unplugged. Hoping that they bring that one chicken game over. We’ll certainly find out! Anyways, we’ve got Mr. Face right now, and an Oink in the hand is worth at least two Fafnirs in the bush, I guess? I’m like, forty-five percent sure that’s how the saying goes.
In Mr. Face, you are having some trouble emoting. You need to show everyone your mood, but you can’t quite get the words out correctly. Thankfully, your face is here to help! Or maybe not your face, specifically, unless you want to play in Selfie Mode? Up to you. Either way, only one mood can accurately describe your face, but your opponents may try to steer each other off track. Will you be able to emote your mood correctly? Or will your face end up off base?
I mean, there’s not a ton to set up. Set the face pieces out in the center:
The white pieces are black on the other side. Shuffle the cards, deal each player 5:
You can set the point tokens aside:
Give each player an arrow:
You should be ready to start!
A game of Mr. Face is pretty simple. Everyone gets one turn to make a face, and then you have to match that face to a mood. Get points for being right, and the player with the most points wins! Simple, right? Well, let’s dig in a bit more to see how that works, mechanically.
As I mentioned, every player gets a turn to be the lead player. When it’s your turn, take the top card from the deck and look at it. That’s your assigned mood. You must now use your Powers of Art and represent it with a facial expression on the face you see in front of you. Add some eyebrows; I’m told they’re my most expressive feature. Either way, when you’ve made a face that you’re either proud or ashamed of, show it to the other players.
The players must then choose a card from their hand and add it, face-down, to the pile you create by playing your assigned mood card face-down. Once you have one from every player, add random cards from the deck (if needed) to get to six total in the pile, shuffle them, and reveal them.
Starting with the player to your left, each player must place an arrow on the card they believe to be yours. Once they’ve all placed, you must show which one of the cards was yours, allowing players to score:
- If someone correctly guessed your card: You get 1 point and they get 1 point.
- If someone incorrectly guessed another player’s card: Nothing happens. No points are awarded to anyone. Being wrong is bad.
Award points by dealing cards from the deck face-up to represent points. If you need extra tokens, you may use the point tokens included with the game.
Play until every player has had a turn to be the lead player. The player with the most points wins!
You can also play Selfie Mode, which eschews the typical game board and pieces for just taking a selfie on your phone and using that as the object of discussion, instead. That’s novel. If your friend group likes selfies a lot, this might be right up your alley. I’m not sure it would go over well for me.
Player Count Differences
At lower player counts, the game becomes a smidge easier (hopefully), as you fill in up to six cards by drawing randomly from the deck (the same way you would if you wanted to make Dixit really hard or prove something about Cards Against Humanity). This means that you’ll sometimes get hilariously off-base answers, and you’ll also sometimes get cards that you’d swear were played by the lead player. Thankfully, the latter case requires a lot more things to happen probabilistically, so it doesn’t quite happen as often. Personally, I prefer the chaos inherent to higher player counts, as players are actively trying to deceive each other, which makes this a lot more challenging. As a result, I generally try to play this at higher player counts; a party game with three people is weird, anyways.
- I usually imagine myself thinking the card’s text and then try to make a face like the one I would make. I’m not totally sure this counts as strategy, but it’s what I think approximates good advice, so, your mileage may vary on whether or not this helps you. This is challenging if you’re not a person with a good visual sense (there are plenty of people that can’t visualize things in their mind). Just make sure you don’t actually make the face and give your players extra information! They’ll have to go off of what they see on the face you end up creating, not the one you end up making. That said, if you’re playing selfie mode, you need to make the face anyways, so, go for it.
- You’re not trying to deceive anyone, if you’re the lead player; make the face as clear as you possibly can. This is not a game where obfuscating will help you; this is a game about trying to get the maximum number of players to correctly guess your card while other players sabotage them. This is also how you’re going to earn the bulk of your points during the game, so, be perfectly clear (if you can swing it). Also, pick a card that will help you make a face easily. You don’t particularly want to go for a complex card.
- That said, be creative in how you use the pieces. There are lots of fun things you can do! I once made heart eyes for my face for the “I’m so in love” or whatever card. It really worked, helping the other players guess it correctly pretty much immediately. So that was awesome. Bonus points if you can do things like that; I’d love to see what you come up with!
- It also helps to turn the face so that it faces the other players. This is just something I usually forget to do. Again, not really strategy advice; just more “good advice to keep in mind if you can”.
- If you’re not the lead player, you’re definitely trying to get other people to guess your card. Try to play a card that you think best describes the face in the hopes of tricking your opponents into guessing yours. If they do, they and the lead player both get fewer points. That’s good for you!
- If you can’t do much with the cards you have, just dump the most specific one. Getting rid of hard-to-use cards is going to be a net benefit for you in the long-term.
- Watch which cards the players before you guess. You get no points for guessing your own card, so it’s highly likely that the card they pick doesn’t belong to them. It could, but it likely doesn’t. You may be able to eliminate some plausible options as a result.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- Really unique game concept. It’s a face-making game! It’s very cute, a bit silly, and kind of just enthusiastically Oink. I’m consistently impressed by the variety of the games that they make, and this one does not disappoint in the slightest, in terms of concept.
- Love the green box color. It’s an extremely nice green; I’m a big fan of it. I think the closest I’ve seen to it would be Islebound, I guess? I’m always pretty appreciative that the Oinks are generally different color boxes, though I will say Dual Clash Poker and Insider are pretty similar. It just looks really nice on a shelf, I feel.
- Pretty simple to learn. You either make a face to describe one of your cards or you play a card that you feel describes that face. Then you guess which of the cards the lead player had in mind when they made the face. It’s not more complex than that, which is nice.
- Plays quickly. It’s over in 20 minutes, tops. A bit longer as you add more players, since there are more rounds of guessing.
- Very portable. All Oink games are, but I continue to appreciate it. I usually just throw a few into my bag so that I have them for on-the-go needs. It’s all very useful, I feel.
- A fairly creative spin on the Dixit sort-of-gameplay-style. Having players do more creative work before guessing who played what is always a winner, for me. I am disappointed by the games where you just kind of play cards and then guess who played what.
- Selfie mode is cute, though 100% not for me. Fans of selfies can use that in lieu of making a face, but I think making the face is half the fun. Plus, I’m really not a huge selfie person, so, yeah, not going to be playing that particular mode of this game anytime soon.
- The in-box organization is a mess. You just kind of … dump all the tokens into the box and hope for the best. I know Oink isn’t particularly big on inserts, but this is a really bad one.
- It’s weird to me that you don’t get any points for other players guessing your wrong answer. It’s just … weird. It means that your entire goal when you play is just to hurt other players, not to help yourself. It’s also a bit atypical for games in this genre; most of them are specifically geared around getting those extra points by tricking your opponents. It’s just odd when you play because you feel like there should be something else to it, but there isn’t. Plus, it means there are very few points in the game.
- If you get behind, it’s pretty much impossible to catch up. There are so few points! You can only score X – 1 points (where X is the number of players) when you’re the lead player; every other round, you can only score 1 point. A perfect game, therefore, is 2(X – 1) points, so if you do poorly as the lead player, you’re basically hosed. That also feels kind of weird to me, but given that Nine Tiles Panic has some weird scoring choices as well, it’s possible something’s just going around in that scoring space.
Overall: 7.5 / 10
Overall, Mr. Face is definitely weird, but I think it’s a lot of fun! I think it’s nice for groups that aren’t necessarily into heavy strategy games but still want something that’s going to be a bit more thinky than just throwing a bunch of cards into a pile and deciding which is the funniest. Between this and Dixit, of course, I feel like I’ve got to give it to Dixit, but I think this scratches a different part of my brain with the face construction, and I appreciate that. You can also make some incredibly silly faces with this game, and I really like that a lot, as well. Naturally, like all Oink games, it shares the pedigree of being pretty simple to learn and very very portable, so it’s easy to throw into a bag and have another solid party game available to you. My few gripes with this one are that it’s got a ton of weirdness around the scoring, which doesn’t matter a ton for a party game but is still pretty weird. As a result, I don’t think this is the standout party game in the Oink line, but I still think it’s a pretty fun one, especially if you’re into the idea of doing a bit of creative work and then pitching a funny face of it to your opponents. My favorite party game? Nah. A fun one? Certainly. If you’re looking for some face-related antics, or you’re like me and you just pick up every game that Oink produces and generally hope for the best, I’ve had a lot of fun playing Mr. Face, and I suspect that you likely will as well!