Have you ever wanted to see how good of a memory your fellow board gamers have? And also have the opportunity to tease and ridicule when they forget things? That’s essentially this small box party game for 3-8 players, That’s Not a Hat.
There are some staple games in my collection I consider among the best “silly” party games: Happy Salmon, Telestrations, Time’s Up, etc. But I can always use more options so let’s see if this is worthy of a place among my favorites.
To set up the game, everyone will get a card with an item on it, placing it face up in front of them. These are generally everyday items… a key, a pizza, a shoe… whatever. The first player will then draw the first card off the deck, revealing that item (let’s say it’s a strawberry) and passing it either left or right based on the arrow on the back of the card. They will also announce what they are passing, “Here, I’ve have a strawberry for you.”
Pretty simple… right? Well, the recipient of the strawberry will turn it face down and gift their starting card to the left or right (again, based on what the card indicates for direction). “Have this pizza!”
The pizza recipient will then pass whatever card they had and so on. Once a card has been passed and turned face down it is never turned back up. As you can imagine, it won’t take long for someone to not be entirely sure where every item is at. If you are receiving a gift and you don’t believe it is actually what the gifter claimed it to be, you can say “That’s not a ___!” and decline the gift. If you are right, the gifter gets the card as a penalty and if you are wrong you take the card.
Then the person who got the point will draw a new card from the deck and chaos resumes until someone has taken three cards. The player(s) with the fewest points win.
Is this game just Memory? Kind of.
Definitely, the key mechanism is trying to remember where each item is. There is only one more item than the number of players in the game at any given time so you might think it seems trivial, but as things move around it gets fairly hard to track. And there can be some fun laugh-out-loud moments when someone forgets an item that they were sent literally 20 seconds ago. So also be advised the game is most fun with some light trash talking.
There can also be a little bit of bluffing involved of course. If you can project confidence that you know what you are passing you don’t really have to be correct. So for the more brazen among us, you can just speak with certainty and hope that carries you through.
I do wish the game somehow reset once someone scores a point. It feels like fairly often the game reached a state where no one knew where anything was and the recipient of the gift just called folks out until the game was over. There might be some risk of the game overstaying its welcome; if you really just want to sit down and play for a round or two it doesn’t really hurt anything.
There can easily be a big skill gap here as well that occasionally hurts the experience. If someone at the table is actually really good at remembering things (and apparently also taking this fun party game too seriously) they will almost for sure constantly win. The bluffing aspect only works if there is some doubt about what the cards are and all the information is, at least at some point, publicly known.
This is Not a Hat is a fun experience and is good for a few laughs. It’s good as a quick filler, especially if you have some kids around. It does rely mostly on memory and, to a lesser extent, bluffing, giving players who are prone to forgetfulness a big disadvantage. But watching someone’s memory fail is way more entertaining than I expected it to be.
I’m not sure it has the staying power or enough interesting things going on to really propel it into the pantheon of the best party games ever. But it’s worth keeping around as a small quick filler when you just want something fun that will wrap up in less than 10 minutes.
Final Score: 3 Stars – It takes about 10 minutes and you’ll have at least a few laughs.
• Pure memory game means some players just won’t stand a chance
• Kind of a one trick pony, not the type of game you will want to play over and over again.