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I have found an issue with playing the board game Who wants to be a millionaire 2nd edition, and the rules do not cater for the problematic scenario.

The rules can be downloaded from www.fgbradleys.com/game_rules.asp#w
(Click the "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" link to download PDF.)

The problem

The problem is with the "Ask the Audience" lifeline.

In the TV show, the audience are not playing the game and do not need to answer the question themselves. So they simply vote on which ever answer they think is correct.

In the board game, the "audience votes" are the answers which players are going to choose for themselves. They pass their answer via a card (either A, B, C, or D) to the host who adds a card with the correct answer, and then passes them all to the player using the "Ask the audience" lifeline.

The problem comes when a player uses their "Ask the audience" but one (or more) of the other players do not yet have an answer, and possibly/likely were going to use a lifeline themselves.

This means the other player(s) don't have a legitimate answer to choose, and so cannot pass an "Ask the audience" card based on an answer they are choosing.

Solution we're using

As there's nothing in the rules to resolve this, we decided that any players needing to provide an "Ask the audience" card but do not yet have an answer, randomly selects a card to pass to the host.

This isn't always terrible, as the host always provides a card with the correct answer, and another player might have an answer.

But if no other players have an answer this lifeline becomes quite hit-and-miss.
The lifeline cards the player receive from other players without an actual answer of their own are now just randomly chosen, 1 out of 4 chance, and not based on knowledge of the other players in any way.

And the point is supposed to be getting what other players are answering themselves as they might know the answer (arguably it's more than "chance/random").

It also changes the potential outcome. As a card which a player passes at random might not end up being the answer that player chooses for themselves.
So if the card they passed is chosen by the receiving player (using the lifeline) and the answer is wrong, but the player who passed the card ends up with a different answer themselves which is correct, they go through to the next question.

Whereas if they pass the answer they were choosing themselves, if that answer is chosen by the receiving player and wrong they both go out, if it's correct they both stay in.

Which is how it's designed - to avoid passing a card which you know is the wrong answer, as on the TV show which the board game is based on, the audience have no reason to give any answer other than the one they believe to be correct.

I know there are other parameters at play there, but essentially I'm saying it causes a few issues and alters potential outcome.

Can anyone think of a better solution to manage this scenario?

  • Also, if someone could perhaps suggest/create a new tag, such as "millionarie-2nd-edition". I don't have enough rep. – James Jul 13 '15 at 18:19
  • Usually we don't create tags for different editions, even [axis-and-allies], which varies significantly. I've created a tag [who-wants-millionaire] since we have a 25 character limit (this one takes 21). If you or anyone else has a better tag name, feel free to change it. – Thunderforge Jul 13 '15 at 19:36
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The hit-and-miss nature of the Ask The Audience seems like it is right. There is no mention in the rules that the answer that a player gives for Ask The Audience must match the answer they ultimately decide to go with. If you look at the rules for Phone A Friend (which appears to work similarly) it states

this card does not have to match what the “Friend” may have answered on his/her own Console

Since in the real game show asking the audience is really just asking a bunch of random people what they think, I believe the "problem" you have encountered in many ways actually approximates how a real random audience would work. You have some that know the answer (and are helpful people), some who aren't sure, some who are trolls and saboteurs (even the Phone A Friend lifeline could be used to mess somebody up on purpose, which is partially why I believe that sabotage is ok).

Also, just like in the game show, there is no guarantee that what the audience says is the right answer is really correct. The contestant has to decide how much they really want to believe the audience and then make their decision.

  • I believe this behaviour in the game is not correct. (1) The rule for "Ask a friend" explicitly states the card does not have to match your answer, whereas the "Ask the audience" does not indicate this. (2) The "Ask the audience" rule reads like the card must match your answer: "All other players (or the one other player in a three player game) choose their answers (A, B, C or D) from their Ask the Audience / Phone a Friend cards" --- So you specifically "choose your answer" from the card, not "choose a card". – James Jul 14 '15 at 0:19
  • Also, asking the audience in the TV show is not purely random, as they are returning the answer they believe to be correct based on facts/knowledge/assumptions/gut feeling/etc. Whereas the problem I've outlined returns an entirely random choice. – James Jul 14 '15 at 0:20
  • @James When I read the phrase "choose their answer" I read it as "choose the answer they want to give to another player" not "choose the answer that they are going to commit to" – Becuzz Jul 14 '15 at 14:06
  • @James Also, I don't mean to imply that asking the audience is a way to receive random answers, but that the people are random strangers (to the asker). You never know how much you can trust them. For example, I have a friend I could ask about chemistry questions and could absolutely trust any answer he gave me. Can I trust a group of audience members the same way? Probably not. – Becuzz Jul 14 '15 at 14:12
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    The assumption that 'Ask the Audience' should give what the players/studio audience actually believe to be correct is unfounded. In some countries, (like Russia, as I heard it), some of the audience deliberately try to sabotage the contestant, adding another factor your strategy has to consider. – TimLymington Jul 17 '15 at 13:14

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