Reviews

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire board game review: how well do the ‘digital lifelines’ work?

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire board game
Final answer: the new quiz has digital lifelines

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire has been dragged into the 21st century. The 2021 version of the board game based on the quiz show includes ‘digital lifelines’, where you use your smartphone to ‘ask the audience’ or take a fifty-fifty. How well does it work? I had the family over to give it a test.

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire – how does the board game work?

The Who Wants To Be A Millionaire board game takes a slightly different format to the TV show. Instead of each player answering their own questions, all players answer the same question. Get the answer correct, you move up the money ladder. If you get it wrong, you tumble back down to your last safety net. The winner is the first player to answer the millionaire question correctly.

The key difference is that the question asked of all players is always that of the highest placed player at the time. So, if you’ve got one player on £500,000 and the others have fallen back to £20,000, everyone has to answer the £500,000 question – which is obviously much harder than the £20,000 question. It’s a bit unfair on the weaker players, but better than the alternative of giving players higher up the board an easy question.

There is nothing stopping you from playing the quiz the conventional way and seeing how far each individual player can get up the money ladder, but it would mean a lot of waiting around doing nothing whilst you wait your turn to play. Overall, I think they’ve got the format of the board game just about right.

How do the digital lifelines work?

The key innovation for this 2021 version of the game is the digital lifelines. Each player has four lifelines, which are identical to those in the show, namely:

  • 50:50
  • Phone a friend
  • Ask the audience
  • Ask the host

Each question card has its own QR code on it. When a player wants to play a lifeline, the idea is that they scan the QR code on the question card to get the lifeline options.

Here’s a sample question card, so you can see how it works:

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire question card

(Each question card has two questions on it, with the answers on the reverse.)

There are a couple of practical problems with the digital lifelines. Firstly, the QR code is very small and so it often takes a few attempts to get the code to scan properly. One out of the three phones my family played with refused to scan the codes altogether.

The second problem is that only two of the digital lifelines are worth the hassle of scanning the code. Ask the audience gives you a bar chart of answers, as you might get on the show, and these do appear to be unique to each question and not just randomly generated.

The 50:50 also gives you two answers to remove, which are specific to that question. As you’ll see from the answer on the card above, each printed answer also gives you 50:50 options if you don’t want to use the digital lifelines, but bear in mind this makes it difficult for the host to play along, as they need to look at the answer to get the 50:50 options.

The other two digital lifelines don’t need the QR code at all. Phone a friend merely asks you to literally phone a friend who might know the answer, or ask someone else in the room who isn’t playing. Ask the host simply requires you to ask whichever player is reading the questions out which answer they’ve chosen. This feels like a missed opportunity to have a Jeremy Clarkson pop up on your phone and give his two-penneth, but I’m assuming his royalty fees were too stiff for the game’s makers!

Verdict

The Who Wants To Be A Millionaire board game proved to be a good hour or so of family entertainment. Not least for me, because I won twice. (Yes, it’s perfectly fair to wonder if the brains of the family is writing board game reviews for a living, what the hell are the others doing?)

Do the digital lifelines add much to the game? Not really. You could easily have a separate card for each answer that showed the ask the audience and 50:50 results, but this is still a solid choice to while away an hour or two at a family Christmas gathering.

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire board game
  • Gameplay
  • Value for money

Summary

A solid family board game that will appeal to fans of the television quiz

Overall
4

Pros

  • Good multiplayer format that puts a new twist on the TV formula

Cons

  • Digital lifelines are fiddly and could have been better implemented

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at barry@bigtechquestion.com.

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