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Family Feud, the home version -

Let's Start the Family Feud!

[Insert cheers sound effects here.]

The home version of Family Feud gets my vote as the best social/party game. It's light, fun, lively and lots of laughs. Everybody can play since it doesn't require any particular skills or a wealth of knowledge.

I don't know about its current availability. I suppose if you don't have one buried away in your closet or basement you'll have to keep a lookout at garage sales.

If you do have one lying around the house somewhere, my suspicion is you didn't get much use out of it. The boxtop rules have big problems. In fact, they stink. I tried to inform Milton Bradley of this but got the standard reply: We have a "policy of not... considering ideas from outside sources." (Oh yeah? Where'd you guys get Scrabble, then?)

If you recognized the el stink-o rules and figured, "Hey, we'll do it like on tv," you probably found that unsatisfactory, too. You will have noticed that it was a big, fat pain in the neck for somebody to have to haul himself out of his nice, comfortable chair to a "sound-proof" room for the Fast Money round. You will also have noticed that there really wasn't any place in the house where you couldn't hear what was going on. Sending the poor soul on a walk around the block has big drawbacks, too, even when there isn't a hurricane or blizzard going on.

The manner of scoring on both the tv show and in the boxtop rules was dopey. On tv, of course, they had to work it so that both teams were still in the running in the final round, so that round was double or triple money. And the Fast Money round was not part of the competition; it was just icing on the cake for the team that had already won. This might have made sense in the home version if they had supplied real money . . .

They really outdid themselves with lameness in the home version Fast Money round. The two contestants pore over the list of survey answers and choose their favorites. How (yawn) exciting . . .

Ok, so if you're still with me, here are my suggested modifications for turning the home version of Family Feud into something that is not only a blast, but a sensible, solid, competitive game. The intention isn't to give the complete rules. I assume you know there's an emcee and two sides and about slapping to see who gets the choice of "pass or play!" You know the team captains will be the first pair of slappers for the first question, and the next pair of opposing players in line will be the slappers for the next question, and so on down the line.

Incidentally, always choose "Play!" It's more fun; it's what you're there to do. The logic is, "Our team is smarter than their team - if not, why are we even playing? Even though the question may sound daunting, when we run out of good answers, they certainly won't have another one, either."

You also understand that after the slapper gives an answer, the next person in line on the team gives an answer and it goes down the line and cycles around until the answering team has gotten all the answers on the board or has gotten 3 strikes.

Here are the finishing touches for the home version of Family Feud.

THE STANDARD GAME: A Family Feud game consists of 6 Question rounds and 2 Fast Money rounds. Each team will have one Fast Money round, which is an integral part of the game. The game sheets each have 3 Questions and 1 Fast Money round, so a standard game uses 2 game sheets.

SCORING: Forget the phony money. Use paper and pencil to add up points. There are no "double money" rounds. Points scored in Fast Money rounds are simply added in with points scored from the Question rounds.

FAST MONEY ROUND: Here is where we need the biggest correction to both the tv and boxtop rules. Each team gets one Fast Money round. After 3 Question rounds, one team (probably the one with the lowest score) will do its Fast Money round.

The Fast Money round is timed. A time limit that has worked very well is 35 seconds. It goes fast, but still allows several seconds of thought before a player has to answer. There is no reason to blurt out the first crazy thing that comes to mind. Or, if your crowd is the sort that enjoys a job-well-done more than a hilarious crash-and-burn, you might reduce the pressure element even further, to a full minute, say.

The emcee looks over the questions in advance to make sure he won't stumble. Since the Fast Money round is timed starting with the first answer given, the emcee starts with the longest question. He reads that question.

The two contestants always give answers in the same order; that is, Player 1 answers first and Player 2 answers second.

Since the timer doesn't start until Player 1 answers, they can relax on the first question - even verify with each other that they're ready.

Player 1 answers. The time-keeper starts his watch. Player 2 answers. The emcee doesn't even pay attention to the answers. He is intent on reading the next question quickly, clearly and correctly.

There is no need to write the answers down. Remembering what was said is no problem with everybody else listening. Player 2 is responsible for not duplicating what Player 1 said. If Player 1 says "big", Player 2 says "large" at his own risk. Depending on the question, he may have squandered his guess - or he may actually score points.

The following sequence continues until all 5 Fast Money questions are completed:

  1. Emcee reads.
  2. Player 1 answers.
  3. Player 2 answers.

If Player 1 or Player 2 draws a blank, he may say "Pass". But don't panic prematurely - you have several seconds per question, and you may have been stockpiling time with earlier quick answers. As opposed to the tv show, there is NO going back to a passed question even if there is time remaining. That's too much of a complication and a burden on the emcee. A "pass" is forever.

The points associated with the guessed Fast Money survey answers are added up, and the sum is added to that team's score.


Notice that there is absolutely no need for the teams to have the same number of players.

The rules say a player should "raise his hand" in the face-off. I suggest slapping something - a table, your knee, etc. - is more definite.

The emcee must not give away how close a guess is. If he stews and struggles and hesitates, this tells the other players - and the other team - that the contestant was "close." The emcee should familiarize himself with the answers first so he can make snap "Right!"/"Wrong!" decisions.

What's "close enough" can never be addressed by rules. In some cases, "Coke" may be good enough for "soda"; in other cases not. The emcee has to take the bull by the horns here.

The emcee should keep things rolling. No game is fun once people start complaining, "Hurry up - you're taking forever!" When a contestant has had enough time, the emcee gives him a 5- or 10-second warning, counts it off mentally (no need to be exact) and then gives an extended "bzzzzzzz". This allows the player to blurt out a last-ditch guess. Just surprising him with "Time's up!" can cause hard feelings. He may have had a wild guess in mind while searching for a better answer.

If you want a shorter game, the emcee might choose the two most fun-looking Questions from each sheet - for a total of 4 Questions in the game. For a longer game, use 4 game sheets - for a total of 12 (or 8) Questions and 2 Fast Money rounds per team. Notice that you never want to use an odd number of questions. This doesn't make sense since one team will necessarily have to win more Question rounds, and this virtually assures a lopsided victory no matter how evenly matched the two teams are.

If you play multiple games, or have a bunch of teams playing in a series of eliminations, succeeding Fast Money rounds by the same team should involve different players.

In all question and answer type games, it is fun to throw a question out to everyone after the contestant on the spot failed to answer it. Why let a good question go to waste, even if no points are involved? In the case of Family Feud, before exposing the board after a regular Question round or Fast Money round, give everybody a final chance to yell out the missed survey answers.

Have fun!

ADDENDUM: I was in a store recently (December, 1998) and was surprised to see a Family Feud game on the shelf. I glanced at the box and was disappointed to see that the Fast Money round has been replaced with a Bull's Eye round. They only supply the Number 1 answer from the survey, which you must guess. I think you have to get the first one right to go on to the second one, etc.

This is a step backwards as far as I'm concerned. Not to mention, the answers to the sample questions visible on the box seem kind of dopey. It looks like they are bent on combining a lot of survey answers into one, which isn't doing anybody a favor. Q. Name something you buy in a pet store. A. Pets (all). Q. Name something you do at dinner. A. Eat/drink.

I'm presuming the rest of the game is the same as in the old days. To work the Bull's Eye round into our modified home play scoring, it might work to give a team 20 points, say, for each Bull's Eye question they get right. Getting all 5 right, then, would give a team 100 points - about what a team gets for winning a regular question. The whole team would be allowed to discuss it before giving an official answer.


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