Review: CNN The Game
Publisher: GamePlan, Inc.
Year: 1994
Players: 2 to 6
Tagline: Cover the World As a CNN Correspondent

CNN logo over a globe

how we met

I know I paid $1.99 for CNN The Game. I know this because the price tag is still on it. I know I bought CNN The Game in July 2019. I know this because I decided to brag about it on the Flip the Table Facebook page. I remember the thrift shop where we bought it and that it was on the bottom shelf. Sometimes I like to think nothing will surprise me anymore, but I remember being surprised to see a board game themed on CNN. I was sold.

how it plays

Players (or teams) in the game get an airplane pawn. Their goal is to travel to destinations specific to their color pawn and hopefully correctly answer questions, which are marked in the passport checklist. Once they check off all of their location boxes, they travel to CNN Center in Atlanta for a final question. If they are successful in this last challenge, they are promoted to Bureau Chief! That player or team wins CNN The Game!

When you land on one of your correspondent locations, which are marked by a CNN logo with a background in the color of your pawn, then you are asked a CNN News & Information question. These are trivia questions that “reflect the wide range of subjects covered by CNN,” according to the instructions. A correct answer gets you one checkmark in that location!

The trivia box and example trivia card
Some are multiple choice which is nice

If you land on a space on the board with an exclamation point you get a CNN Special Bulletin. These can send you to different points on the board so whether they help or hurt you is a matter of luck.

Example special bulletin cards that send the pawn elsewhere such as go to Paris to cover flu epidemic
I swear I pulled these randomly and did not look for an epidemic card, but there it is

Some spaces on the board say LIVE and these require you to do a live report on the topic identified by your die roll. Yes, you! It’s your job, duh! These reports cover either a person, place or event and the only rule is you can’t use the words on the card (really just the topic itself). You have 30 seconds to get your fellow correspondents to guess the topic, and if one does you are both rewarded! The reporter gets to roll again and the correct answer gets to mark double on their sheet which can be used to double any die roll to their benefit once.

The example they give in the instructions for the LIVE challenge is for “Empire State Building” and the example report is “I’m standing here in NYC outside what was once the tallest building in the world. The building is located in midtown Manhattan….” Fun right?!

Example live cards including things such as Federal Reserve Board, Mt. Rushmore, The English Channel, The Brady Law
There are 18 report topics here. I think I could tackle 12 of them and do an okay job. But depending on my roll I might be in a tough spot. How many of these could you cover and get your fellow players to guess in 30 seconds each?

There are just a couple of other things to mention. If you land on a white space (most of the board) then that’s it and you pass the die. If you land on a colored pie space you have a chance to roll again if you answer your question correctly. If you land on a location that is not your color, you still get asked a question in your own color. A correct answer allows you to hop to any of your locations that you want to! Then you are immediately asked another question as though you just landed there normally and get the check if you get the second question right.

The passport showing May 31, 2004 player name Sharon Stone
I don’t like to brag but apparently Sharon Stone played my copy in 2004 and won

CNN Center in Atlanta is just yet another question in your color once you have all of your other checkmarks. A correct answer lands you that sweet promotion to Bureau Chief and you win CNN The Game!

how it went

After COVID-19 “safer at home” measures hit I didn’t game much at all. Even though I was very lucky in my circumstances, I retreated into comfort things like movies and television. I didn’t feel like I had the energy to sort through gaming online. And I think it was the right decision, because the last thing I need as I sit here at this moment is another Zoom appointment of any kind.

That being said, Bill and I played CNN The Game via Google Hangouts with my sister and bro-in-law early on in the pandemic. The game does not lend itself to online play or anything, but we made it work. I was teamed up with Jaime and Bill with Aaron.

An overview of the board from in the room
What Bill and I saw on our side during play
The laptop showing the game board during our play
And what Jaime and Aaron would see. This is what making it work looks like

We are all close to the same age, and I think we are within a limited age range of perhaps knowing some of the questions in a 1994 news trivia game. Some of the questions end up being still relevant (like who is the founder of Microsoft). But the majority are very of-the-time, so the game is really built for a limited shelf life.

My attraction to purchasing CNN The Game was more about it being a bizarre subject matter for a game rather than a deep knowledge of CNN. But it’s easy to appreciate how closely the game ties to CNN as a company by using their actual locations. They also provide a lot of information on CNN like a brief history and their program guide. So even though CNN The Game boils down to an antiquated trivia game, it does a nice job of being CNN The Game rather than just some random news trivia game. I definitely give it points on theme.

CNN Program Guide 1994
This is a neat, simple idea but also exemplifies the limitations of the game all these years later

I very much enjoyed the LIVE challenges. Most of the challenges I did were easy enough for me to remember, but it was also fun to make people guess when I kind of remember but don’t have full command of the subject matter. And I loved watching other people do their challenges.

Like any roll and move game, luck does play some role in how well you do in CNN The Game. We definitely slowed down near the end when we had narrowed down which cities each team was going for, but I don’t think we ever got really stuck.

Bill and Aaron were generally ahead throughout the game and they won CNN The Game!

Passport from our play showing Purple needing only Atlanta
You can tell this is Bill and Aaron because I don’t think Jaime and I got any doubles 🙂

play or pass

Pass. This is a news trivia game from 1994, so you would have to have a keen interest in news (and/or a very good memory) to really appreciate CNN The Game. I think the theme was handled nicely though. I usually expect the worst when I pick up a game based on a property that does not seem very gamely, but CNN The Game was well executed. The subject matter just assigns a shelf life to gameplay.