Header AD

Polemic Review

Quick Look:

Designer: Daniel Pennypacker
Publisher: Garden Path Games
Year Published: 2015
No. of Players: 3-6
Ages: 12+
Playing Time: 15 minutes

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com

DISCLAIMER: I was sent a copy of the base game for my review.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, polemic is defined as "an aggressive attack on, or refutation of, the opinions or principles of another." And while our games never got aggressive, it was certainly a shock to learn that my sweet, conservative mother had no qualms about veal!

Polemic is a game of opinions, ranging from the relatively tame (yoga, spiders, and ice skating) to the potentially polarizing (kale, the electoral college, and Valentine's Day). Each game, players will have to truthfully give their opinions of a wide variety of topics, as well as try to guess the opinions of the rest of the group. But in the end, it's not about who guesses correctly - it's about whose opinion is right! Right?

So much possibility for contention, and in such a small box...


Rules and Setup:
Each round of play, one player draws a Topic card. Each card has five topics, including types of food, famous people, everyday items, and everything in between. They select one of the five topics for the round. Every player then selects an Opinion card (like or dislike) for their own opinion and a Guess card (numbered zero to six) for how many people they believe like the topic in question.

Once everyone has selected their two cards, hands are flipped over and answers are revealed. Those who guessed correctly take a point, and the next round begins. However, in most games, the rounds never end so easily; quite often, topics are debated for several minutes before the next round starts. Regardless of round length, the first player to four points wins the game. (The game does not come with anything to mark points, but it can be done easily enough; it's as easy as marking tallies on a piece of paper, or grabbing a bag of loose change and handing out pennies.)

The game sports 46 white Topic cards, 54 colored Guess and Opinion cards, and two Rules cards.

Setup consists of little more than shuffling the Topic deck and handing each player their hand. Each set of Opinion and Guess cards are color-coded for ease of access.

Four people liked the topic, which means a point to blue!

Theme and Mechanics:
While discussion and debate may not be considered a traditional "theme" by most, it's the bread and butter of Polemic. Each game brings with it a wealth of opportunities to learn interesting revelations about fellow players and their opinions. And because people may think about the same topic differently (with "veganism," for example, one person might like it because of the determination it takes to pull off, while another dislikes the idea of being one themselves), it gives you a look into the minds of those around you.

A variety of topics on each card means there's always something new to discuss!

One particular design choice I truly appreciated is the inclusion of open-ended topics. Every card has one option that starts, "think of a topic that's..." and is followed by a very general topic, such as a time period or a form of entertainment. These allow some level of variety after several games of the same cards. In our first game, I chose the open-ended topic of "think of a topic that's a hairstyle," and I then narrowed it down to Jennifer Aniston's iconic look from her years on Friends. I also guessed the number of likes correctly, so it worked out in my favor!

Artwork and Components:
Polemic is extremely minimalist. The Topic cards are blank save for the words, and they forego a distracting font or capitalization. The Opinion and Guess cards are also very simple, distinguished only by the colors used for them. In fact, the only thing that could be considered "artwork" is the design on the game box, which is made to look like a "six" Guess card, each of the pips colored to match the different player cards. I personally think this minimalist design choice fits the game very well, as it makes the focus solely about the topics and the game play.

The Guess cards are modeled to look like dice, while a big X and O mark the Opinion cards.

The cards themselves feel like they're made of good material and shuffle well. The two Rules cards provide easy reminders for players and stick to the minimalist theme. The lack of markers for points may be a turn-off to some, but many of our games decided to forego a points system at all, simply playing for the fun of learning about each other.

You had me at "player aid cards"...

The Good:
Polemic serves as a great way to pass the time and to learn something new. Whether competing for the most points, getting to know your friends better, or using it as a relatively safe icebreaker for new groups, this is one that will get your mind going and the discussions flowing.

The Bad:
Fans of party games likely won't enjoy this, and depending on the demographics and personalities of your game group, it could lead to more arguments than discussions. A lack of point markers could also turn some people off.

Final Thoughts:
Polemic may not be a groundbreaking, revolutionary game with gorgeous art and stunning miniatures, but it knows what it wants to be, and it fills that role extremely well.

Players Who Like:
Those who enjoy party games like Apples to Apples, Red Flags, or Cards Against Humanity will love the excitement and debates that Polemic brings to the table.

I am giving Polemic 8 out of 10 super meeples.

8 10

Check out Polemic on:


Get your copy online at AMAZON.

About the Author:
David Jensen has tried his hand at everything from warehouse work and washing dishes to delivering pizza. Now, he writes reviews and works as an editor for a literary magazine. When not busy procrastinating, he's playing tabletop games with friends and writing fiction.

Polemic Review Polemic Review Reviewed by David J. on September 14, 2017 Rating: 5

No comments