Base price: ~$18.
2 – 7 players.
Play time: ~15 minutes.
BGG | Board Game Atlas
Check it out on Kickstarter!
Logged plays: 5
Full disclosure: A preview copy of 3 Second Try was provided by itten. Some art, gameplay, or other aspects of the game may change between this preview and the fulfillment of the Kickstarter, should it fund, as this is a preview of a currently unreleased game.
I’m still working my way through the five games in itten’s Funbrick series; they’re an interesting bunch, and each deserves their own time in the spotlight. Having had a chance to play a few instances of the party game, I’m ready to tell you what I know about 3 Second Try! Excited to talk more about it; let’s dive right in.
In 3 Second Try, players are trying to demonstrate their physical and mental prowess in the only way they know how: contests! Each round, the Master will choose a category and players will bid on how many times they can complete the task in the allotted time. The challenge is, the allotted time never changes: it’s always three seconds. So, you better be fast! Will you be able to prove your skill and your speed simultaneously?
Basically none. Shuffle the Mental and Physical decks:
Set up the timer:
Choose one player and give them the Master card; you should be ready to start!
3 Second Try is an interesting little party game! Over several rounds, you’ll take on either Brain challenges or Physical challenges at the behest of the Master Player. Let’s talk about how that works.
To start a round, the Master Player chooses Brain or Physical and flips the top card of the deck. Then, they place the ball at the top of the timer and let it go. Before it clicks on the magnet at the bottom of the track (about three seconds), players can bid on how many times they can perform the indicated task. It can be anything from saying “Madagascar” to bowing to folding a sheet of paper. Standard bidding rules apply: you can’t bid the same number as another player and you must bid higher than the previous bid. The Master Player can bid, as well; it’s a free-for-all. Once the timer has run out, the player with the highest bid makes the first attempt.
For an attempt, another player places the ball at the start of the timer, and once they let go, the player making the attempt has until the ball clicks at the bottom (again, three seconds) to complete their bid. In order for the attempt to be successfully completed, the player must not only complete the bidden number of tasks but also stop the ball before it hits the magnet. If they do not, they failed! The player who bid the next-highest number goes, but for Brain tasks, they cannot use any of the previously-used words in their answer (where applicable). This continues until any player completes their attempt or no player can. In the former case, the player who completed their attempt gets the card; in the latter case, the card is discarded. Either way, the Master Card is passed clockwise to the next player and a new round begins!
Play continues until any player gets two cards. That player wins!
Player Count Differences
The only real player count difference is that more players tends to push the high end of the bids upwards. It’s not like the fundamental limit of how many times one person can say “Madagascar” (yes, that’s a card) increases or decreases with player count, so it really becomes more a matter of how quickly can you get a low-to-medium bid in there before the other players shut you out. I will say that my strategy of bidding low and hoping it gets to you doesn’t really work with more players, since players tend to cover more ground with their bids rather than a player bidding 1 and the next player bidding 4. That’s okay; it just means you have to be a more active participant in the game. I think the higher end of the player count spectrum does pose a challenge in that you may not be able to bid at all; one player might bid too high and shut out basically everyone, which can be a bit frustrating. I think 3 Second Try makes a compelling case for itself at four players or so. There are enough players to keep the game moving, but also not so many players that you can’t get a bid in. That said, the head-to-head chaos of two players is worth experiencing, as well. No preference beyond that; I just enjoy the game, even spectating.
- Keep the timer within reach if you’re performing the challenge. You’re going to need to grab the ball before it hits the magnet, so, you don’t want to have to reach across the table for it. Keep it within about arm’s length so you can stop the ball before it’s too late!
- It’s a party game; if you’re strategizing, focus on having fun. This is always my best advice for party games. Just focus on having fun; the game is short enough that if you don’t end up winning, you can play again pretty quickly. I think trying too hard to win a party game can kind of take away from the fun of all of it.
- That said, going for a “The Price is Right” strategy may work out in a number of circumstances. I try bidding low in lower player count games, just banking on the idea that most players aren’t going to be able to complete their bid. If they can’t, then the next player to go keeps trying. Just keep in mind that you can’t repeat any words that previous players used for mental challenges, so you might end up getting the best words knocked out by other players.
- Just practically, you may not want to string together a bunch of physical challenges. That will wear you out pretty quickly.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- The “clack clack clack” of the timer is incredibly satisfying. It’s just a great little timer! You get both the visual of the ball progressing down the slope and the auditory signal of the ball clicking against the corners as it bounces down. I mean, a three-second sand timer would be underwhelming anyways, so this works perfectly.
- I love how … all over the place the challenges are. They’re deeply random. There’s bowing, jumping jacks, folding paper, listing words, who knows. It’s all in there.
- Watching players bid and overshoot their bids by a lot is pretty funny. People really don’t realize how little time three seconds is. You really don’t have a ton of time to do whatever your challenge is, so players will bid like, 6 or 7 on challenges that are obviously going to take too long. They try their best, but they’re doomed to fail. And we, the beneficiaries, just get to watch the catastrophe.
- There’s all sorts of debates over what “counts”, which is really the goal of one of these party games, I think. Like how low does a bow need to be to count? Is that really a jumping jack? Do your legs have to start crossed before you cross them the opposite way? These are all real things we’ve discussed during 3 Second Try.
- The game obviously plays extremely quickly. You really aren’t going to have more than one round per player, plus one (since it requires two cards to win), unless players are accidentally overbidding and nobody scores. Since each round is super fast (three seconds to bid, three seconds to attempt), you’re going to move through the game very quickly.
- A very easy game to learn, as well. You just bid on how many times you think you can do something in three seconds and then you’re on the hook for it. There’s nothing else to keep track of in the game, basically.
- I love itten’s Funbrick series, and this is a dynamite addition to it. I think this and Viking See-Saw are my two favorites; this is a rock-solid party game for a wide variety of players, and I do keep coming back to it. It’s just a joyful experience. I’m glad itten has been experimenting; can’t wait to see what they do next.
- There’s not really a resolution step for if two players say the same number at the same time, so you may need to house rule that to some degree. We usually just say they’re both on the hook for it, but there’s not really a clear answer in the rulebook. The most likely useful rule is that neither of them get it; they just cancel each other out.
- It’s also a bit annoying if a player makes an obviously outlandishly high bid before other players can get in there; it just means that the round was wasted since nobody can bid lower and that player obviously can’t complete the bid. Sometimes the round is just a wash. That does make the game take a bit longer, but there’s not much you can do for it if a player isn’t bidding well.
- I have a few accessibility worries here, since a lot of the physical challenges may not be able to be performed by all players. Thankfully, you can just skip over the stuff that a player may not be able to do, but there’s still some sensitivity about putting a player on the spot to necessarily say that something isn’t doable for them. That can be awkward in a party game setting, and that’s not really the … point of party games.
Overall: 8.5 / 10
Overall, I think 3 Second Try is excellent. It fulfills the sacred covenant of all good party games, which is that it should be as much fun to watch as it is to play. That’s kind of an absolute for me, these days. The nice thing about 3 Second Try that the other games don’t always have is that it’s dead simple to learn. Again, here’s the rules. You have three seconds to bid on how many times you can complete the challenge on a card in three seconds. Then, the highest bidder has three seconds to prove it. A three-second try; you see where they’re getting it from. That said, it wouldn’t be itten if they weren’t pushing the boundaries somehow; they’ve given you the weirdest time-tracker I’ve ever seen. A little metal ball rolls down a track, clicking as it counts out three seconds. If you can stop it before it hits the magnet, then you score the point! It’s classic itten: take a fun concept and then execute it impressively, and I’m a huge fan. Naturally, there are some challenges to the game, but they’re easily rectified. If you’re playing a physical challenge and it’s not something all players can do, just skip it and move on to the next one. There are bound to be some accessibility gaps in a game like this, but there are thankfully plenty of cards, so there should be something that everyone can do. Beyond that, though, 3 Second Try is a party game with a lot of pizzazz, high portability, and just an overall fun vibe. Another great one from itten. If you’re looking for a new party game, you want one of the most novel three-second timers I’ve ever seen, or you’re just a die-hard itten fan, I’d highly recommend checking 3 Second Try out!
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