Tuesday, 17 December 2013

The Cove, Redux

Where: The Cove, 3681 West 4th

When: 8pm every Monday

Web Presence:  The facebook group has quiz info and flat out gives away three answers each week, which you'll want to take note of because the corresponding questions are unbelievably difficult.

Registration Fee: Nobody really does these anymore, so from here on assume a quiz is free unless we tell you otherwise

Team Info: No de jure team limit, but the compactness of the venue and corresponding smallness of the furniture will make it tough to get more than six around a single table

Format: Three rounds of 15 questions each

Prizes: Free shots given out for funny answers or creative team names, as adjudged by the host.

No, Hassan, it's poker chips now
The new hosting regime also carries on the "magic keys" prize format, with numbered poker chips substituted for the previous macguffins. After each round, the first, second, and third place teams receive three, two, or one chips, respectively, and the total points winner after all three rounds gets a free pitcher and eight chips. The host then draws a random number, and whichever team holds the chip with that number wins their choice of grand prize: a $50 Cove gift certificate, or the contents of a mystery box.

Food and Drink: Won't thrill you. I also tried a Blood Alley beer which I didn't care for in the least.

This blog reviewed The Cove back in 2012; since then, however, the old Kits watering hole has gone through two changes of hosting duties, so we thought it prudent to give it another go -- especially since Cascade's What the #!*@?'s recent retirement has left a great void on the Monday night quiz calendar.

Reading back over that review, it seems things under the new stewardship are substantially the same as they were then, but there seem to have been a few changes, mostly for the better.

I never tried the Cove quiz under the previous host, but the new emcee tends the helm well. Chris writes the questions himself and his tastes incline somewhat to the geeky; last night we got a point last night for knowing that Peppy's famous exhortation in Star Fox 64 was "Do a barrel roll!" and I'm sure future weeks will have similar such content in store.

As opposed to the previous two freelancers, Chris is an in-house host, doubling as Cove's marketing manager, one especially pleasant consequence of which is that he can give out free drinks essentially whenever he pleases, which is quite often. Come up with a witty joke answer and you've got a very good chance of winning your table a round of shots. And on the subject of complimentary spirits, the night I was there, the quiz was apparently sponsored by Canadian Club who had brought in a pair of Cactus-Club-waitress-types to dole out Dixie-cup-sized samples of their whisky.

As for my nitpicky critique, I'll say this: if you want to hint an answer on facebook, that's OK; give the answer outright, if you must; but something's wrong when the question is so impossible that you could only get it right from being given the answer. For example, who played "Stock Boy" in Home Alone? His subsequent appearance in 1997's Picture Perfect notwithstanding, I'd place Jim Ryan well outside the canon of suitable quiz answers. This goes a bit beyond the pale of rewarding those who follow your social media to additionally punish those who don't. (I also challenge the figure of two-hundred-something total deaths in the Game of Thrones series so far. The Battle on the Blackwater alone claimed several thousand casualties! Did we mean named characters? Please specify next time!)

The more I think about it, the more I like the magic keys prize format. While elite teams are still rewarded for their knowledge, lesser contenders can still compete and have a good chance of taking home the big prize. No more juggernauts running wild week after week. Call it enforced egalitarianism, but this seems like an idea too good to stay confined to one venue -- don't be surprised if every quiz in town is giving out poker chips, keys, ping pong balls, or buttons before long.

Our last reviewer had it about right the last time. This is a strong quiz with a good host, a fun mechanic for giving away the big prize (it was a full-size metal toboggan this week!), and the steady flow of free shots and pitchers are a pleasing addition.