Firing up a new Jackbox Party Pack has been a yearly tradition for my friend group since the series first began. We love the bite-sized social games to death, but we've also been playing them long enough to know each pack usually has one or two star games and three that are just OK. Trying out Jackbox Party Pack 8 with friends the other night, we all agreed that this year's standout is a team-based variation of Family Feud called The Poll Mine.
We were a bit surprised that the first step of The Poll Mine was to divide the room. Jackbox games are usually cooperative or free-for-all, but here we were submitting team names to vote on and choosing little critter avatars. The game's premise is that both teams are lost in a mine and competing to find torches (points) to light their way out. After a heated election, we began an ultimate showdown between two extremely mature team names, The Murderers vs. The Sex Havers (go team!).
The Poll Mine starts by giving everyone a short survey on your phone. Our first round was a multiple choice prompt that asked which character in a post-apocalyptic high school scenario fits us best (the tech wizard, the big beefy friend, the teacher that dies immediately, etc). You get a minute or two to rank your top answers one through five, the game collects the data, and then onto the play phase.
We were then presented with a room full of labeled doors matching our survey answers and took turns opening one at a time. The goal of our first round was, in true Family Feud style, to open them in order of most popular to least popular answers. Except, unlike FamFeud, we couldn't generalize about a pool of hundreds of answers. We had to judge based on our friend's personalities and senses of humor. Jackbox is smart to give teams a minute or so to talk it over before locking in a door, because it gave team Sex time to discuss how we surveyed individually and start to piece together the overall rankings.
Talking specifics paid off in the short term, but it backfired once the baton passed to team Murderers. Those jerks with ears heard everything we said and used it to subtly judge against their own results and open the right doors without giving us any extra hints.
I suppose it'd be possible to impose a rule against listening in (playing over Discord, we could have muted each other between turns), but I think keeping conversations open makes Poll Mine more entertaining. Not only do you have to navigate around specifics, but it's very funny to watch the other team doubt themselves, misremember details, and scramble to lock in a door before the buzzer.
Going into the final round, things weren't looking good for team Sex. The Murderers had four torches and we had one. Our finale was a survey with eight answers and a new wrinkle: rank answers from least to most popular, and if you get one wrong, lose a torch.
Finishing with the most torches felt like a long shot at this point—now we just wanted to survive with the one torch we had left. The prompt was something along the lines of "If you were a celebrity, which of these are reasons you'd be considered attractive" with answers like "Just Kinda Hot", "Hot Vampire (TV)", "Playing Guitar", and "Actually Talented". This one really threw me for a loop because it was hard to pinpoint which friends were answering ironically (like me) and which ones were embracing their hotness. Working from the bottom up didn't help either. It turns out popular answers are a little more obvious than duds. Nailing down the first four proved tough. We chose the wrong door several times and were on the brink of losing, but we'd get to stay in every time team Murder messed one up after us.
By the time we'd sussed out the bottom five with answers like "Actually Talented" and "In A Pop Band", I thought our goose was cooked. It was between guitar, just hot, and "Hot Vampire (movie)". Team Murderer just had to choose guitar to steal our torch and take it all, but in a godlike twist of fate, their designated answer-chooser lost connection to the Jackbox website on his phone just as time ran out. You couldn't have planned a better sabotage!
The blunder gave us the opening we needed to stay in the game. I would've been happy with a draw, but a final massive upset (it turns out Hot Vampire was more popular than Just Kinda Hot) won us the game. It was more of a symbolic victory born from a technical error, of course, but it was still sweet.
So yeah, The Poll Mine rules. I'm impressed with how many great social game mechanics come into play here—starting with the lighthearted team naming and escalating to strategic deduction, creative thinking, and careful application of friend knowledge. It's a lot more involved than, say, a chill doodling sequel like Drawful Animate, but the beauty of the party pack is that you can easily chase a tense game of Poll Mine with something lightweight.
There are a few other standouts in Party Pack 8 that I'm a big fan of like Job Job (a game about answering prompts with words taken from unrelated sentences your friends wrote) and Weapons Drawn (a complicated murder mystery where you hide your own signature in drawings of weapons). I'd suggest starting with one of those before things get heated in the Poll Mines.