Friday, February 10, 2017

The Genius: Rule Breaker Main Match Rankings

So, here we are once again to do a ranking of things related to The Genius. I've done a few rankings related to The Genius over the past couple weeks, so if you want to check those out, you can click on "The Genius" tab at the top of the blog. (I swear I'm going to actually make one this time!)

Like always, I'm assuming you've found your way here because you're also a fan of this beautiful show. If that's not the case, turn back now, because I'll be discussing spoilers through the end of season 2 and I really don't want to spoil you. 

Or, if you're curious about the show, I've embedded episode 1 below, so you should definitely check it out. However, don't continue reading the rest of this post until you've finished all of seasons 1 & 2 because I'm going to be massively spoiling both of them. Don't say I didn't warn you. 


Before I jump into my ranking of the Main Matches of S2, I wanted to briefly touch on my criteria for this ranking. Although I moved stuff around afterward, I did begin ranking these using a set scoring system. My 3 criteria for that were concept, gameplay, and entertainment. Breaking that down a bit:
Concept- Does the concept of the game interest me? Is it something I want to try? How does it compare to other Genius games in intrigue and complexity?
Gameplay- The actual strategy used by the players. Did they figure out a hack? Did they come up with clever strategies? Did The Genius theme or Extreme Ways start playing at a key moment?
Entertainment- Was it overall fun to watch this main match unfold? Usually, clever gameplay is entertaining, but sometimes it's not. 

Like I said, I scored each match in these categories, but I did shift stuff around just a touch because I like to keep things fluid. But I'll get into more detail when discussing each game. Let's go ahead and jump into the list!



11) King Game

I'll have to re-think this while I go through all of the games throughout the run of the show, but this might possibly be my least favorite game in the history of the show. The gameplay redeemed it slightly because of Doohee's secret betrayal of his alliance, but overall I don't find anything particularly compelling about the concept. While there is some sort of strategy to it, the different components really aren't that interesting. People literally just make symbols with their hands and are then are told to stand by letters. I honestly forgot it existed until listening to the Dom & Colin recap of the season because of how completely forgettable it is. With some changes, perhaps this could become a compelling game (maybe a hackable prop instead of a hand signal?), but this format just has way too many non-compelling components. 


10) 7 Commandments

This game gave me vague shades of Zombie Fluxx, a card game where the win-condition can change based on the cards that people play. That's a game that I think is interesting in concept, but extremely frustrating to play. In this game, the rules change instead of the win-condition, but I think that's almost a less interesting difference. Overall, I just didn't find this game compelling. I thought that different people having different personal bills was a fairly intriguing concept, especially as Hongchul used Junghyun's to his own advantage, but the rest of the game was fairly uninteresting. In addition to this, some of the personal bills were extremely powerful in comparison to others. Sangmin and Jiwon were essentially able to hack the game and ended up leading their allies to an assured victory. It was way too easy to hack, and overall it's a fairly forgettable game.


9) Monopoly Game

The Monopoly Game is this far down on the list mostly because of the ID incident... but not quite for the reason that you'd think. So much stuff happened in this episode. Yohwan helped lead Sangmin to the token of immortality, Jinho eventually discovered the safe... to find it empty, Doohee's ID was stolen for the main match, he got the token of immortality from Sangmin, betrayed Sangmin, and then discovered that the token of immortality was fake and promptly went to the death match and was eliminated. I just said a lot of words there. Barely any of them were related to the main match. 

Because of all of the other insanity going on in this episode, there wasn't really a huge emphasis on the Monopoly Game itself. Sure, there was some emphasis on the ID theft, but that's not really related to any sort of winning strategy-- just to the surefire way to make someone lose. Like I said in my last post on Season 2, I'm not out on a witch hunt against the people who stole the ID. If they'd taken it and used it to peek at Doohee's resources or to get something they needed & then returned it with ample time, I'd consider it good gameplay. I feel like the producers expected some sort of ID trading or else the IDs wouldn't have even been a game mechanic. However, I think it was a low blow and really poor sportsmanship to take the ID and not return it until Doohee's fate was sealed. All things considered, everything in this episode that was interesting happened at the periphery of the game, while the game and any real strategy related to it were put on the back burner. 


8) Big Deal Game

When I ranked the games of Season 1, I mentioned that games with extra players brought in aren't necessarily my favorite. And that's the case with this one. The group Super Junior was brought in to play, and I thought it just ended up being alright. One or two of them played well, while another was completely convinced that their partner was lying to them about being their partner. In terms of this game as a betting game, I think it's fairly interesting. We get several iterations of betting/bidding games throughout The Genius and this one is very different because the players actually decide whether or not they want to accept another player's bid for that certain color. 

Overall, I think it's a fairly interesting game. However, I think my main problem with it is the extra players being brought in. For every other season, it's at least a "loved-ones" type visit, whereas this time it's just random members of a boy band. I think this game would've been more interesting with all players, therefore playing by alliances. It also probably would've been more interesting with loved-ones because the hidden partner twist ended up being a little silly to me. 


7) Blackout Game

As I've mentioned in other posts, I listen to a few Genius-related podcasts, and I'm pretty sure that none of them like this game. I think I'm a bit higher on it than they are. I think that it was an entertaining game to watch, and it was probably really fun to play as well. It's especially good when one of the participants is Hongchul, who is just going completely out of his way to be silly. And I also really loved the eventual reveal of Eunkyul betraying his team to help out the opposite side. Despite what anyone else says about him being a bad player, I think this was a cool move despite the other people completely ruining it for him. That being said, I think the strategy is a bit weak here. Realistically, there are only two real options-- have a mole planted on the other team feeding you information... or guess. Everyone will be trying to trick you about whether or not they crossed the line, so you're completely in the dark (ayyy, bad puns) unless the other team is giving you information. So, tl;dr: fun to watch, not the most strategic thing in the world. 


6) Seat Exchange

I really like the simplicity of this game. It's about as close to musical chairs as The Genius is going to get. A lot of the fun of this game derives from Sangmin's extremely impressive ability to just look at someone and know if they're lying. My favorite moments in this game are all the times that Sangmin demanded that someone was not the number they claimed to be, just for them to cower and admit to lying. It was hilarious and wonderful. I feel like this is also one of the easier games to understand, which is a bonus for it. I really don't have much negative stuff to say about this one-- I just enjoyed other games a bit more. I love the games with secret identities or secret hacks, and this one boils down to sitting in chairs. Still a cool game, just not quite as fun as some of the games with hacks. 


5) Layoff Game

This is the classic "let's revamp a game from earlier in the season and bring in guests" game, and as is common with these games in The Genius, I think the entertainment level was upped, but the strategy was brought down a bit. First off, the segment at the beginning where Sunggyu enters and Sangmin freaks out is still one of my favorite moments in the entire run of the show. The sunbae/hoobae alliance will always be the best. And I also loved getting the return of previous contestants and the pseudo-return of a game that I really enjoyed earlier in the season. 

However, the obvious elephant in the room is that Sangmin is still there. And obviously the season 1 players will want to help him and anyone he's aligned with. If you weren't already suspicious of the producers for leading Sangmin to a win, you certainly were after this episode (Not accusing them of doing so, just pointing out how clearly this casting choice helps Sangmin). And plus, as aforementioned, I'm already not a huge fan of bringing "outsiders" into the game, so when they probably all favor one player, it rubs me the wrong way even more.

That being said, this is a game that I really enjoy. I loved Food Chain (we'll get there in a minute), and I thought that this was a cool office twist on the game. In fact, I actually kept thinking about The Office tv show and the potential character correlations. Overall, I really like the concept of the game, and I enjoyed getting to see some of my favorite (and... not so favorite...) players from season 1 back again, despite some of the wrinkles that it put into the actual gameplay. 


4) Elevator Game

I like to refer to this game as glorified Chutes and Ladders, because... c'mon. Is there any chance that they weren't inspired by Chutes and Ladders for this game? That being said, I think that most of my enjoyment of this game derives from the actual gameplay and the entertainment attached to that gameplay. Sangmin was an absolute delight in this game (even more than usual). He had such obvious tells-- hitting his head, dancing, etc. and he's just so... Sangmin... that you don't even realize that they're tells until the flashback. Like, he's just so out-there already that you're not even phased by him breaking out into a silly dance or smacking himself on the head. And then you have the added enjoyment of watching Junghyun try to rally the troops and get so angry at their betrayal that he takes a lap around the set. 

This, of course, is an episode where extra people were brought in, but this is one of the less heinous instances to me due to the fact that they're previous players. I also like that it's previous players from this season as opposed to players from season 1 (or just other seasons in general-- which is more relevant for later seasons than for this one). There are already pre-established relationships and I feel like bringing back eliminated players just works better in the context of the season as a whole. 

As for the concept of the game, I really enjoy it. I really enjoy this twist on Chutes and Ladders. I love that it gives Sangmin the perfect opportunity to completely betray his team despite the fact that he won't gain as many garnets. I think that the strategy to this is kind of an improvement on the blackout game. Instead of having to guess what your opponents are doing, it's a bit of a leveling war. You have to figure out what they're going to do, and how to respond to that, while they're trying to figure out how to block whatever you're trying to do. Or, of course, you just have a spy hitting his head as a signal. Either way, it's a cool game.


3) Minus Auction

This game has popped up a couple times, and I've loved it every time. It's not a game that immediately jumps out to me as "whoa that's a cool concept!" but it's consistently very entertaining and requires a lot of strategy and good gameplay. When it eventually returned, I was really excited because of how much I enjoyed this first iteration of it. There are several different strategies that I think are good ways to go about playing this game, especially when playing with people who are absolutely terrified of getting any of the large numbers. And possibly even better is the little wrinkle where one of the numbers has been completely taken out of the game, and you have no idea what it is until the end. That adds a whole other level of intrigue and suspense to the game that makes it really fun to watch. I don't have too much to say about this game, but it's just a really cool one to watch every single time it comes up.


2) God's Judgment

This is basically the Open, Pass of Season 2... except this time it leads to poor Jinho's elimination rather than his glorious rise to icon-status. Like I've mentioned many times, the games with prop hacks are often my favorite, and this is no exception. I'm honestly surprised it took some of them so long to figure out what was going on with the dice. Immediately upon seeing them, I thought something was really weird about them, because they just didn't look like normal dice. When I looked at them, I immediately noticed that there were the same number of holes on each side, but only some of them actually had white dots. So, I thought that perhaps the outside holes and inside white dots could be fiddled with so that they could create different combinations of numbers altogether. I was a little disappointed that I was wrong, but at least I was right that they came apart in some form or fashion.

I loved seeing everyone figure out the hack at different points throughout the game. Obviously, Sangmin was the first, but we didn't get to see that until a flashback much later. It was really awesome to see how he manipulated people into letting him mess with their dice... all while Yohwan was still trying to figure out how to keep the dice magnetized while throwing them. That fake hack (which I believe was actually just one of the things keeping the dice together) made the game even more entertaining, because everyone was completely convinced that it was the real hack, adding even more to the confusion since it was extremely unhelpful. Overall, it was just a really entertaining game (Hongchul's rolls tho) and I loved the hack aspect to it as well. 


1) Food Chain

I really enjoyed Food Chain, but I didn't realize exactly how much I loved this game until I ranked this season's Main Matches and it just kept beating every single one that I put up against it. It's such an interesting, complex game with a ton of different layers and so much opportunity for a ton of entertainment as well as great strategy. Hweejong was a great character for this episode. I was absolutely rooting for him to get eliminated because I didn't want that dominant gameplay all throughout the season, but this was just such a great episode for this perfect character arc. Of course he got the lion, and of course he overplayed it and it was absolutely wonderful to watch.

So many of the animals have really cool strategy and win-conditions. The chameleon's ability to disguise itself is a cool wrinkle, as is the prey animals' ability to group together and stay alive. It becomes an even more interesting situation when people start forming alliances regardless of their animals, creating dynamics between players that probably wouldn't have existed otherwise. I just think that absolutely everything came together for this game-- the concept was really intriguing, there were so many opportunities for really great gameplay, and Hweejong alone made it one of the most entertaining games of the entire run of the show. And don't even get me started on Jinho holding the stickers hostage and running all over the room, because of course he would. Kong holds a special lil' place in my heart, as does this game.



So, those are my rankings of the Main Matches of The Genius Season 2! I'm sure that everyone reading this will have a pretty different ranking, or will disagree with me on at least one of these, so let's get a discussion going in the comments because I always love talking about this beautiful show. Coming up next will be my rankings for the Season 3 players and Main Matches!

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