Review: AdVersity
Publisher: Fundex games
Year: 2003
Tagline: The Game of Crazy Mixed-Up Ads

Cover just says Adversity with Max Madison holding a banner saying, "The game of crazy mixed-up ads"

how we met

Bill picked this up on one of his outings because it was a couple bucks and not played; everything was still in plastic. Our group tends to have fun with party games, even if it’s just a play or two, so it seemed like a safe bet. It sat on the shelf for awhile and then joined us for Thanksgiving!

how it plays

The object of the game is to earn money by successfully guessing which ad slogans your fellow players will match to products. Ultimately players are trying to get enough money to first purchase a SpokesAnimal followed by a SpokesPerson followed by the one and only Max Madison. The first player to purchase Max Madison wins! 

Max Madison pawn
The man himself, but slightly out of focus from the neck up #mybad

Players are called agencies in this game, and they start with 1 VOTER card, 5 AD SLOGAN cards and $100k cash. The agency to go first flips over a PRODUCT card. These cards have four different, numbered products on them. 

Product card shows 1. Preparation H 2. Turtle Wax 3. handcuffs 4. gasoline
This shows a sample PRODUCT card

Each agency then flips over, face down in front of them, one of the AD SLOGAN cards in their hands to represent one of the products on the PRODUCT card. This starts off a round of sorts, where the first agency – the one flipping the PRODUCT card – becomes the first Advertiser and flips over their AD SLOGAN card, face up, and reads it out loud. They then adjust their VOTER card to represent the product their slogan is meant for. Other agencies adjust their own VOTER cards to represent which product they think the first agency is advertising with their slogan. 

Once all agencies are ready, the Advertiser reveals their intended product by presenting it as though it were an ad, like, “Cover Girl. Why should your face get all the attention?” All other agencies boo and hiss or celebrate and rejoice depending on whether their own choices match. The Advertiser receives $100k for each fellow agency they match with, and each agency receives $100k for their correct guess. If no agencies matched their product it is called a BIG FLOP and the Advertiser must pay $200k to the bank for being sucky. 

Sample slogans are "Feel free to act on impulse," "Just how mad is she?," "He knows how to give goose bumps"
A sampling of ad slogans picked at random

The next player then becomes the Advertiser on the same PRODUCT card (remember, they put their own AD SLOGAN card down too). Rinse and repeat for all players. 

After each round where all agencies have had the opportunity to be Advertisers, they are allowed the opportunity to purchase SpokesCelebrities, which are winning conditions in the game. They also get their AD SLOGAN card replaced. 

Cartoons of a dog, toads, a fat man eating ice cream and a man wearing a smokey bear outfit
A random sampling of SpokesCelebrities. I have another photo showing the toads in perfect condition so remember, kids, always be careful when putting your games away

You can choose not to purchase SpokesCelebrities if you do not have ample money. The problem is that if you have a BIG FLOP and not enough cash to pay in, you must sell one of your SpokesCelebrities for much less than you purchased it for. 

SpokesAnimals cost agencies $500k to purchase. SpokesPersons are $800k. Max Madison costs $1 million dollars! There are several animals and persons to choose from but only one Max Madison, so these SpokesCelebrities need to be purchased in order. 

The first player to be so rich they can purchase Max Madison wins! 

how it went

I am so bad at this game, it should be studied. But I’m getting ahead of myself. 

The components are fine. I liked the VOTER cards, and there are a lot of AD SLOGAN cards in the box. It’s also nice that you can choose your SpokesCelebrities. Silly and unnecessary but much appreciated (when I finally bought one). 

Vote card where a spinner on the sides changes the number in the front window
The VOTER cards are chunky and work well

Silly and unnecessary but less appreciated was the style of the rules. We play a lot of games, and silly flavor comments in game rules could not be less appreciated. If you make a game and insist on dumb, cutesy flavor text please make it simple for my eyes to pass over and not read. Please? 

We played this during a longer game day. It was a nice break in the sense that it was simple and had the potential for party game humor – which is our humor inserted into card combinations. Simple, fun, quick. 

But AdVersity has a major, major flaw to it. As an Advertiser, you do best when the most players agree with you. There is no punishment if your ad is so obvious that all agencies can pick it out every time. Many party games in this vein do punish you for making obvious choices. But not AdVersity! There is zero incentive to be odd, unique, funny in a strange way, thoughtful. You succeed by not being yourself or thinking really. Just match your best card with the best product. So dull. It was so dull! 

Products include Slim Jim and laxatives
A picture of our play that really doesn’t show much of anything. Enjoy!

I get that in advertising this is probably the ultimate goal. Know your audience and get the most eyeballs and clicks. But that does not a game make. 

I admire the fact that AdVersity uses actual ad slogans and products, just like my beloved Ad Liners which is a better game but also grittier and – prepare yourselves – with more obvious sexual innuendo. A lot of people in BGG comments still criticize the amount of sexual innuendo introduced with no effort into AdVersity, because those people still don’t realize the level of sexual innuendo in advertising every day. 

The sub-tagline of the game says a lot: Guaranteed to be the most hilarious game you’re holding right now!

In the end John laid his money down the quickest and bought Max Madison and won AdVersity! And we packed that thing up and moved on. 

play or pass

Pass! I have a weakness for party games and this is still a big pass, all in lights. This game introduces you to your blandest self, or you lose, or you don’t play in the first place. I like that last one best.