How to play Trivial Pursuit for board game beginners

Here's a complete guide on how to play Trivial Pursuit, for trivia board game newbies as well as veterans returning to the tabletop classic.

How to play Trivial Pursuit - photo of a Trivial Pursuit player piece with all six wedges

Trivia Pursuit is perhaps the trivia game of all time. It’s basically synonymous with quiz board games at this point, with updated editions coming out every few years. As such a staple of family board game nights, it’s worth learning how to play Trivial Pursuit – just in case someone whips it out at your next gathering.

If you’re a new or returning player, we can cover the rules of this classic board game in no time. Below we spell out the exact Trivial Pursuit rules, as well as the best board game editions to buy for different kinds of trivia board game players.

Here’s how to play Trivial Pursuit:

How to play Trivial Pursuit - photo of someone throwing dice in a game of Trivial Pursuit

How many players can play Trivial Pursuit?

Trivial Pursuit can be played with a minimum player count of two people (or teams), and a maximum number of six people (or teams). 

How long is a game of Trivial Pursuit?

A game of Trivial Pursuit generally lasts between 45 minutes and 90 minutes. However, the edition of Trivial Pursuit you play with can affect that play time. Let’s talk about these a bit more: 

Which edition of Trivial Pursuit should I play?

The first Trivial Pursuit board game was released in 1981, and the world of general knowledge has changed a lot since then. Plus, Trivial Pursuit is a hugely popular title – so spin-offs and variant versions were inevitable. Basically, there are a lot of Trivial Pursuit editions out there, and it’s important to pick the right one for you.

If you’re looking to play the base game, our advice is to get the newest edition possible. It may be tempting to pick up a dusty copy second-hand for a steal of a price, but Trivial Pursuit is not a game that ages gracefully. What was considered fairly common knowledge in the 1980s now makes for ridiculously challenging trivia questions in your family-friendly tabletop game.

With that in mind, here are the different editions of Trivial Pursuit we’d recommend:

How to play Trivial Pursuit - photo of Trivial Pursuit classic edition board game box

Trivial Pursuit: Classic Edition

This is Trivial Pursuit in its purest form. Trivial Pursuit: Classic Edition follows the same core rules as older versions of the game, and its box design has a nostalgic, vintage feel. But crucially, the questions are suitable for a modern audience.

Trivial Pursuit: Master Edition

As well as the traditional rules, Trivial Pursuit: Master Edition features a game variant that makes the whole game play a bit faster (complete with a timer to stop you dwelling too long on questions). Master Edition also offers slightly more challenging questions than Classic – though Classic is slightly newer.

Trivial Pursuit: Family Edition

If you want a trivia game that’s suitable for younger players (or just a bit more relaxed), Trivial Pursuit: Family Edition is the way to go. The game still offers trivia questions aimed at adults, but kids get their own separate deck to even the odds.

In our opinion, this edition is also likely to age better than its more grown-up alternatives – we’ve played ‘80s Trivial Pursuit, and we were very grateful for easy kids’ questions when the adult ones were too dated. 

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How do you play Trivial Pursuit?

Here’s the core rules for Trivial Pursuit:

Setup

Start by unfolding your board and placing the required number of player pieces in the center of the board. Organize the trivia cards according to the instructions of your edition – some require them to be separated into specific boxes, for example. However your cards are arranged, they’ll need a good shuffle before play begins.

Trivial Pursuit doesn’t have one uniform way of determining the starting player, so choose any method you like. One easy way to do this is by taking turns rolling the dice included with the game – whichever person or team rolls highest gets to go first.

Trivial Pursuit rules

On your turn, you must roll the dice and move the corresponding number of squares. You can move in any direction to an adjacent square, but you can’t move clockwise and counterclockwise in the same move. Also remember that the center of the board counts as one space.

Once you’ve landed on your final square, take note of its color and pull a trivia card. You must now answer the question that matches the category color you landed on (landing on the center of the board lets you choose whatever category you like).

How to play Trivial Pursuit - photo of someone placing a wedge in a Trivial Pursuit player piece

If you’re on a team, anyone can answer this question. Some editions rule that the player to your left must read the question to you before you answer.

Getting a question right on a regular square lets you roll again and take another turn. You can also earn this by landing on a ‘roll again’ square. If you get a right answer while on a wedge square, you gain a wedge of that color. In most editions, your turn continues after this, but some may rule that you get a wedge and your go is over.

If you get a question wrong, your turn is also over. It’s also worth remembering that if you get a question wrong on a wedge square, you must move away from that square and come back later before you can try for that color wedge again.

Once you’re done with a question card, you place it on the bottom of its deck. And once your turn is over, play continues with the player or team on your left.

Differences in Master Edition

Trivial Pursuit: Master Edition speeds up the game by introducing a timer. In this version, your go ends if you get a question wrong or fail to answer before the timer runs out. 

How to play Trivial Pursuit - photo of question card from Trivial Pursuit

How do you win Trivial Pursuit?

In all versions of Trivial Pursuit, you win by being the first player to collect a wedge from each trivia category color. Once you have all six wedges, you must proceed to the center of the board and answer a final question to win the game.

One thing to note is that how you end the game differs between editions. For example, in Trivial Pursuit: Classic Edition, you move your player piece to the center of the board immediately after collecting six wedges. However, in Master Edition, you must roll and move to get the piece there yourself, and you must roll the exact number needed to finish your turn on the center space.

For more classics, here are the 90s board games we’re feeling nostalgic for. And here are the best historical board games that take us back to even ancient-er times, before the days when everyone had a copy of Trivial Pursuit.