Stay Cool is one of the most refreshingly stressful party games I’ve ever played.
It couples laughs with playful anxiety to delivery a truly satisfying and fast paced game that manages to keep everyone involved, regardless of who’s ‘turn’ it is.
Stay Cool: The Multitasking Game, as the name suggests, is about effectively managing your time to make the most of it, while switching between your ‘brains’ to test a number of different skills within a short space of time.
The game plays very simply- an ‘active player’ will have to answer questions delivered by the other players. Some of these questions must have verbal answers, others must be written out using lettered dice that come with the game. The player has 2 minutes for the whole turn, measured using a 30-second egg timer, managed by a fourth player (or one of the questioners if you’re playing with 3).
The verbal questions range from a wealth of general knowledge, such as “What is the capital of Italcy?”, as well as word play like “name 3 jobs that don’t end in -er or -or” and get progressively more difficult/abstract as a player answers them successfully, winding up with fantastic questions like “What colour was Napoleon’s white horse?” and “say ‘pheasant plucker’ 3 times fast.”
The stress induced by the egg timer causes people to not take the time they need to answer most of these (otherwise) simple of only marginally confusing questions- it’s reminiscent of the school yard trick where you ask someone to say “milk” 10 times in a row and then ask them; “what do cows drink?”
Once the first 30 seconds are up, the egg timer flips and one of the other players begins asking questions form a separate set of cards that must be spelled out suing dice with letters on them. Again, you only have 30 seconds to answer as many as you can.
The added stress here is finding the correct letters you need on any side of the 6 different dice- an act that saw yours truly second-guessing a correct answer because I couldn’t find the letter “R” to save my life (it was, of course, “right there”).
The written questions are always answered in either 3 or 4 letter words, such as “A gam that involves putting and driving (GOLF)” or “A person who listens to music with dark, emotional subjects (EMO).”
But like the verbal questions, as the time passes and the player gets better at using the dice to answer them, Stay Cool will throw the occasional curve ball, keeping you on your toes with questions like “Toss 2 dice in the air with one hand and catch them with the other hand.”
Played in three rounds, your score is based on individual points for the verbal questions you answer, multiplied by the number of written questions you answer- so you can’t just coast your way through your preferred skill set and hope to come away with a win!
To make matters more stressful, the game changes rules with the timer in the second and third rounds (presumably again, to keep players on their toes once they “get used” to the format of the game).
In the second round, players need to monitor the timer themselves- announcing when the timer needs to be changed- if it ever runs out completely, their turn is over.
To make matters worse, in the third round the player has to manage the timer as again, but with the timer hidden from them, giving them nothing but their own sense of time passed to gauge when to flip the timer!
With Stay Cool, Developer Scorpion Masque has delivered what will be a staple of all my board game nights long into the future. With over 1500 questions, the game has an intense replayability, and the abstract nature of some of the questions (“Say Canary but invert the syllables”), or manual dexterity involved (“Spell the word ‘TIE’ with he dice while keeping your arms crossed”), means that there is always fun to be had, even if you’ve encountered the questions before.
Stay Cool is very fast to learn (it has 3 pages of rules, and includes a link to a 1 minute video explaining the game), making it very accessible. While it may not be the best game for yougner audiences, its a fun family experiences for kids 12 and up, and (as mentioned), makes for an excellent party game for the adults.
Stay Cool is available now from your local Good Games store!