The Genius: Grand Final

geniusgrandfinalA note to international friends: this is a UK site with a mainly UK audience, please don’t spoil anything until the English subtitles have been uploaded then please feel free to discuss away.

Quick links to places in the discussion:

Keep an eye out on Bumdidlyumptious’ Twitter for subs updates and her page here.

An All-Star season (impressive given there’s only been three seasons, and half of the S2 cast were in S1) starting June 27th:

We’ll flesh this page out as and when. Meanwhile here’s a video.

Things to note: a big throne, I can’t tell if black garnets are returning or not, the logo suggests not, the video suggests otherwise.

Who are they? It might be difficult for Westerners to put names to faces, so here’s a very quick guide:

  • Jinho – Starcraft player who was the winner series 1, got halfway through series two.
  • Kyungran – Female TV host who finished runner up in series one.
  • Junseok – Politician and first player out of series one!
  • Jungmoon – Singer and teacher who finished 9th in series one.
  • Sangmin – Record producer who finished third in series one and won series two.
  • Yohwan – Jinho’s Starcraft nemesis from series two. Finished runner-up.
  • Junghyun – Announcer and politician who almost made it to the end of series two.
  • Yoonsun – Female Lawyer who finished 8th in series two.
  • Dongmin – Loudmouthed comic who played a great social game to get to the finals in series three, and proved he had the smarts to win it.
  • Hyunmin  Student and Dongmin’s partner in crime in series three, finished runner up.
  • Kyunghoon – Lovestruck Seoul university graduate from series 3.
  • Yoohyun – Professional poker player who finished fifth in series three.
  • Yeonseung – The doctor who almost broke up the Dongmin/Hyumin partnership in series three.

362 thoughts on “The Genius: Grand Final

  1. Brig Bother Post author

    A reminder that if you liked Minus Auction, it’s pretty much a direct rip off of a game you can buy called No Thanks!

  2. xr

    Very solid episode through and through. The graphic work for the episode was so very helpful.( with the kind of odd exception of somebody putting light green symbols on a cyan-ish background on the big screen, probably because they were designed on a much better monitor and never tested on set). Music choices were unexpected and welcome. Also, a rather generous main game at 16 garnets: Were they hoping for more competition in the hidden number auction?

    Somebody had been practicing the deathmatches a lot! I generally root for that, but DongMin’s style of play, though valid and encouraged by game design, is sucking the fun out of the game for me. And while it’s probably my favourite DM, it’s also getting a bit same-y and in need of a more radical shake-up.

    No Thanks was neither buried under nor free from the inane play it has seen in the past, but it roughly made sense, until the bizarre surrenders of the win and the defeatist attitude of our sole female player. JinHo has barely shown any understanding of social game ever, and is very unlikely to reciprocate the gift of the win; Junseok on the other hand has my vote as player most likely to hold a grudge. And the reasoning for passing on that -20 is just plain flawed.

    So, when they repeat the season’s race game, what will happen with the weight trick?

    1. Matt Clemson

      Do we have any direct information about where they were in broadcast at this stage of the recording? If they’ve not shown Horror Race yet, they could just use the same trick for a do-over, but that doesn’t work once they’ve explained it. I guess they could completely ditch the random element and allow you to select three tokens from the pool remaining, which would be an interesting wrinkle; effectively broadening the ‘trick’ from the original game out to everyone no matter what.

      1. Brig Bother Post author

        Previously they’d been about four weeks ahead of broadcast, I would suspect that they’d have seen it by now, but also I doubt they’ll use the same trick because there’s no surprise for the viewers.

      2. Brian Duddy

        I am told that they filmed the finale about a week ago, so that would put them 5-6 weeks ahead.

    2. David

      I don’t know about the weight trick, but it looks like have put obstacles on the track- perhaps sticky spots where if a piece lands on it they can’t move off of it at all on a 1-move, and move only 1 on a 2-move and 2 on a 4-move? That would change tactics a bit…

      and if Gul Hap was a fight, they would have stopped it after about Round 5- talk about a stomping…..I wonder if they had used the original rules that DM is based on- the game of Set- it would have been closer. In Set, there are 4 attributes- shape,color,shading, and number (there are 1, 2, or 3 objects on a card)- that have to be the same or different instead of 3..

  3. Alex McMillan

    I will never for the life of me understand the decisions made at the end of that episode, firstly with Kyunghoon throwing away a victory, but moreso Kyungran willing putting herself into last place for no apparent reason.

    Gyul Hap was an utter wash, hoping we see a few more close fights upcoming.

    Ahyoung is back, she’s one of my absolute favourites!

    1. S

      It wasn’t a last place she asked for, she didn’t know -26 was missing. If the missing cube wasn’t -26 she would be putting a massive target for the DM anyways.

      Possible scenarios for her:
      1. -26 is missing, she takes -20 and gets picked by Dongmin for making him last
      2. -26 is missing, and she goes to the DM
      3. Other cube is missing, she takes -20 and gets picked by Dongmin for making him last
      4. Other cube is missing, she doesn’t take -20 and whoever is last picks someone (maybe her)

      Basically the only ‘good’ outcome for her is scenario 4 which involves not taking the cube and hoping for the best.

      1. Alvin W

        However, JinHo said he planned to give KyungRan or HyunMin the token of life, so if he thought KyungRan was in danger, he would have given her the token. Also, assuming that DongMin would have came in last place, would he have likely chosen HyunMin? (Despite the fact that they didn’t work together)

    1. Ronald

      Junseok is the only remaining player that I care about.

      He has made plays for the good of players who really needed it, and they’ve always worked quietly but perfectly.

  4. Alvin W

    I want either JinHo or HyunMin to win.

    Don’t think JinHo will win again, but please just stick around for a bit until the finals. 😛

  5. Oktobo

    Seeing the player list makes me want to watch this series. But I think I need to be patient and finishing the black garnet first.. Hehe..

  6. Alvin W

    Viewership Rating Update!!!

    Episode 9 received an average viewership rating of 2.6% with a highest instant rating of 3.2%.

    If past episodes with high viewership ratings were any indication, this episode would be a really good one too / or dramatic at least!!!

    This is the THIRD record-setting rating of the franchise this season and the THIRD episode to break the 2%! 3%, here we go!

    Episode 3: 2.34% (Lee Sang Min eliminated, Today’s Menu)
    Episode 7: 2.31% (Hong Jin Ho vs. Jang Dong Min, Seed Poker)

  7. Jared

    Not as much Ahyoung as I would’ve liked, and I’m still somewhat bored by Dongmin’s constant domination, but a really fun episode anyway. The adjustments to Horror Race and Quattro improved both games dramatically. I kind of wish Kyunghoon had taken Hyunmin to the death match instead of Junseok, but I’m mostly just satisfied that Kyunghoon’s still around. I really want to see him make it to the finals.

  8. Brig Bother Post author

    I hilariously misunderstood the rules to new Quattro, thinking that once a card had been revealed by a virtual player it wouldn’t be traded again.

    1. Kevin G.

      Not the only one, actually.

      I figured it was one giant taunt, showing you cards that were out of play. Evidently not!

  9. Brig Bother Post author

    I thought the new wrinkles to Horror Race were interesting strategically, but the episode dragged a bit for me.

    1. Brian Duddy

      For me the game was just too hard to follow, and the changes didn’t really change that at all (but they did improve the game).

  10. Alvin W

    Am I the only one who DOES NOT want to see Kyung Hoon win this season?

    In my opinion, the only MMs that he actually did well in were Fish Shop and Garnet Thief.

    I don’t mind him making to the finals, but his trolling skills is just very tiring to watch. I get so defeated everytime he does something inexplicable.

    I understand that many people see this as good TV, but I would like to see that he can play and win games without using deceit, spy, lies, and playing both sides.

    1. Nico W.

      You are definitely not alone and I don’t even want to see him in the finale. All those eliminated players he betrayed wouldn’t hand any bonuses to him (if the structure for the finale is still the same) thus making the game very advantageous for his opponent = boring finale.

  11. Alex McMillan

    Predicting a Dongmin/Jinho final, which is probably be worthy outcome, but not the most exciting thing in the world.

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      I think whoever makes it deserves to be there – The Genius tends to reward people who are good at The Genius and I find it very difficult to argue against any of the final four – even Kyunghoon with his weird non-tactics in the main match has been fairly amazing in all the Deathmatches so far, playing AND coaching. In fact if he makes it he’s probably going to win it.

      Dongmin makes the social game look effortless. I think the games this season have favoured this sort of play over games of logic and puzzle solving and this from our persective is a criticism, but they seem to be lapping it up over there, and ultimately getting other people to do what you want is at the heart of The Genius as a format.

      I rewatched S1 Ep 1 recently, Kyungran was a badass in it, it’s a real shame she couldn’t replicate that this time round.

      1. David B

        Ep 1 is one of the most brilliant opening sequences to a game show ever. Completely filmic, atmospheric, giving enough of the players’ backgrounds and constructively building the game world they’re now in.

        While it’s a shame the women have now all gone, both of them had fallen into the slightly lazy trap of hanging onto the coattails of the stronger players and not really contributing anything original themselves.

        Going back to ep 9, I found it pretty hard to follow with all the hidden information floating around. Sometimes, I think they could do with following no more than 2 distinct threads and alternating between them. And lord knows what Kyunghoon was up to, but you can’t deny he’s been good value.

        1. Ronald

          It’s a shame the women have now all gone *and* it’s a shame that 8 out of 9 guests are men.

          Repeating the DeathMatches has favoured people who have cynically learned the games in their own time – that is, Dongmin and Kyunghoon primarily.

          So, the logical leaps and bounds of Season 1 appear in neither in the MMs nor the DMs.

          Despite that, the series has been great up to now as a political game – but getting less so – Episode 9 was a tiring procedural episode for me, in both parts, and Episode 10 has been cast off my must-watch list.

          Question: Does a great episode has to have a “3 hours later…” sketch?

          1. xr

            Imho, a great episode is one which necessitates the use of either the Pavlovian “Extreme Ways” sting or the unusually timed confessional.

  12. xr

    Dongmin blurting out the trick immediately threw me momentarily; then I realised he wanted to make people focus on picking white, which he naturally didn’t. The ease with which the guests felt like 6k wasn’t worth aggressive play was a bit of a disappointment, and I suspect completely short-circuited the designed dynamics of players aligning with similar guests. The Get Bit / Camel Up hybrid worked rather well per se, allowing the players to make fancy mounts and dismounts, although leaving some pawns behind from the start help make for a duller, more stable game.

    This version of Quattro was rather nice, and complex card picking rules for the “guests” can potentially allow for a deep deductive game. I’d welcome another go of it. Both the cards and the skills seemed to be stacked the same way on this game, so it should have been dull; however, there’s so much hidden info in this game you can edit excitement in pretty much at will.

  13. Nico W.

    I didn’t like that no one ever explained the trick for picking the right coins. We heard they had different sizes and they said things like “pick small ones”, but I never knew which ones were which and how big the size difference was (was it easy to pick the right ones? probably not, because only few people got the ones they wanted, but I couldn’t be sure).
    And I thought they couldn’t pick traded cards in the death match as well 😀

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      There was a graphic suggesting that (the mummy I think?) was half a cm bigger than the others. This wasn’t really a secret, everyone spotted it when they were handed their coins. The difference isn’t completely stark, although if you’re able to put two coins in your hand when feeling around you’d note one was slightly bigger/smaller than the other (there was a go when Ahyoung picked three of them out by accident because evidently they all felt the same size).

      1. Brig Bother Post author

        It might have been fun actually if they were *all* slightly different sizes from each other, a proper tactile test, but you’d have to put a time limit on picking coins or some of them would be there all day.

        1. xr

          For a proper tactile test, may I suggest wooden tokens cut at different angles to the grain? As for being there all day, I think that’s why the holding vessel is so awkward, forcing you to bend unsupported to reach inside.

          1. Brig Bother Post author

            Something like that might be workable yes, although you don’t want the differences too big.

        2. Nico W.

          Oh then my parents’ internet connection was bad in that moment and I didn’t see it properly, my fault.

  14. Alvin W

    Final Four:

    The King, The Prince, The Legend and The KingSlayer.

  15. David


    I think this was a very good main game this week- sometimes your partner had to win to help you lose, which helped you in the long run (counter-intuitive, but it worked)

    And I don’t remember, I think last year once they got down to 3 players all the garnets were kept in the game regardless- so it’ll probably be a nine-figure win for someone (100 garnets in the game now, plus whatever are available next week)..

    And we know 12 Janggi will be the DM next week as well…

    1. Gunaku

      Dong Min is very cool. He deliberately lose at this round and choose Hyun Min as his enemy in death match.

      He choose that because he don’t want to fight with Hyun Min again at final and he want to re-challenge Hyun Min due his lose in 12 janggi at final in S3.

      That’s nice idea!

  16. xr

    The shot of HyunMin awkwardly holding his engorged pouch as he reached the top made me laugh more than it really should. Now I have to wish he is eliminated next round, so that they have to play the final for peanuts.

    Main game was quite a bit of fun, both due to impressive design and due to luck of the draw. I was quite surprised at the low level of politicking; I expected somebody throwing the minigame on purpose to force a do-over if it was about to go to the wrong player, and the main players to try to stick together to keep tabs on each other. I’d really like to see this game played again with teams of two regular contestants.

    This was the best outing of this particular deathmatch, despite the inexplicable decision to use four(!) decks. Best still being quite far from good. The idea of a two-sided deck is solid, but the rest of the game is pretty pointless. JinHo is right in that flying under the radar is probably best, but he’s also right that I didn’t care if he stayed because he was hardly there to begin with.

  17. Poochy.EXE

    For me, the last couple Main Matches have been kinda average, neither spectacular nor dull, and this episode reminded me of why: Those flashbacks to Season 1 they edited in for Jinho were all moments involving some sort of clever gimmick within the game being discovered. There hasn’t really been anything of the sort for a while, at least not one that actually saw any use. The more forgettable moments in S1 were the ones based around politicking, e.g. Election in S1E2 and the Winning Streak DM. They’re obviously trying for more repeatable games, but that just results in more politicking and fewer clever “eureka” moments. And in the end, those flashbacks just made me miss S1.

    As for Double-Sided Poker, I felt this was the one DM where the rule changes made the game worse. First, I still dislike the tie rule since it just hands a huge advantage to whoever gets the better cards on the next hand. Then putting in 4 decks makes a tie that much more likely, and reduces the potential for clever card counting methods. It was still the best playing of it, but that was more due having better players than before.

    1. Ronald

      Exactly what I felt.
      Jinho’s Season 1 flashback was a reminder of how incredible that series was.

  18. Nico W.

    I really liked the main match, it was much more interesting than I thought at first, although I also miss the “eureka” moments this season. We had the little trick in the box of that meal game and different chips in Horror Race, but nothing compared to season one’s Open Pass.
    I am really happy about the DM. With which I don’t mean I am happy to see Jinho go (actually I’m a bit sad, although his gameplay today was terrible), but I like that Twelve Janggi is left. This makes me feel like Dongmin will win this season for sure: If he faces the DM next week, he will most likely win with his skill in Janggi and the eliminated players will probably give him the most bonuses. Now I am really looking forward to next week’s game (which I didn’t understand yet) and the finale! Can hardly wait for it!

  19. Jared

    This was one of the few times where the main match kind of bored me. It lost steam completely after Jinho all-in’d and became the elimination candidate but they had to go through the motions and speed through the remaining 9 rounds anyway, 8 of which were mostly pointless since the final one was the only one that mattered anymore. Even before that though, I wasn’t super impressed. Most of the game hinged on winning the minigames but those were completely uninteresting to watch because they had to shorten each one to like 5-10 seconds of screentime so the audience never had time to consider the puzzles or appreciate any of the solutions.

    Deathmatch was exciting, but I couldn’t believe Jinho had to pay the 10-chip penalty even after folding. That rule is garbage. Kyunghoon played well though and I’m glad to see him triumph yet again. Now he has to do it one more time or else we’ll just get a repeat of the S3 finale.

    1. Ronald

      I was wondering if the Main Match would have been interesting with fewer cards – perhaps 8 cards – so that the information from the first card had more interference.

      Unfortunately, the right strategy is probably still to fold it around a lot.

  20. Brig Bother Post author

    I thought that was one of the most interesting episodes in weeks, cooperative hold ’em probably the most interesting poker variant they’ve done with the caveats that they should have put the answers up a bit more clearly for the viewers at home, and it was a shame it all hinged on effectively who did best on the last hand.

    Double sided poker was always a weird one, I’ve never loved it but I grew to respect it. The issue is for a poker game it seems super hard to bluff and to make chips from people with worse hands because so much information is visible, so it really does feel like the winner will be decided by the deck. THAT BEING SAID I enjoyed Kyunghoon’s ‘visible card in the shoe’ technique, I wonder if that was built into the game deliberately or just something nobody had thought of?

    The last five minutes was probably the most amazing bit of low key television I’ve seen all year.

    1. David B

      I don’t think the card shoe was an especially-designed prop, but equally I do think it was a deliberate part of the game.

      1. Brig Bother Post author

        It was a pretty average looking card shoe. It would be interesting to know if the trick was something conceived by the designers or a happy accident.

        There’s probably a terrific interview with the game designers and producers to be had somewhere.

      2. Ronald

        I thought it got an on-screen mention the last time double-sided poker came up?

        My recollection is that someone noticed but decided it would be unfair to play on that basis.

        Leaving that in as an option = deliberate.

          1. Ronald

            In my brain, Sujin discussed it.
            Quite possibly only in my brain!

  21. Chris M. Dickson

    One of the best episodes of the best series yet, for me. With a pause button there was unusual play along at home value. I was rubbish at the matches one (and still don’t understand all the answers, e.g. 8 triangles?) but decent at the scales one (and did some of the puzzles have multi answers – e.g. 8+8+10 vs 13+13?).

    Liked the death match a lot and that was indeed one of the best eurekas of the series. Also, this ep was one of the funniest this series with a great soundtrack – loved the self-referential Extreme Ways references.

    1. Ronald

      >did some of the puzzles have multi answers – e.g. 8+8+10 vs 13+13?

      I haven’t checked this case, but did you understand that you had to use the specified number of coins?

      For example, 8+8+10 couldn’t normally substitute for 13+13, because that would be the wrong number of coins.

      1. David

        You did have to use the specific number of coins, otherwise there would be more than one way to solve it:

        The sample problem had 8 and 2 on one side of the scale, 5 and 9 on the other.

        One way you could solve it would be:

        put 4 on 8 and 3 on 2 on one side- put 4 on 5 and 2 on 9 on the other, which would make both sides 38 (4*8= 32, 3*2=6, 4*5=20, 2*9=18). That would use 13 coins.

        The problem specified you had to use exactly 5 coins, so the answer they were looking for was 2 on 8, 1 on 2, 0 on 5, 2 on 9, to make 18 on each side.

        They didn’t have to use all the numbers, as the answer to the example problem shows.

  22. Anders

    Holy ballsack! Can’t wait for the final. This MainMatch was a little bit lacking, but there was a “genius” element planted in there. While watching I also thought of the “ask the same person the whole way through” strategy, which worked out.

    Woah. Some unexpected plays this episode. Nice to see Dongmin and Hyunmin fight it out once again. Some new plays in Twelve Janggi were pretty neat. Capturing your own piece. Would’ve never thought of that. But it dragged out a little to much in the end.

    All bets are off! One of the games previewed for the final had a TON of pieces. Hope it does’nt get to advanced to follow along.
    My vote is for Kyunghoon to take it all, and slay the final king.

    And a theory of who will win it all: After taking all of it in, I think Kyunghoon might actually win the final. After Sangmin dropped out, they have been calling him the “King-slayer”. And what did Dongmin say at the end of the 3rd season when he won? You guessed it. “I’m the king!”. We’ll have to wait and see…

  23. Nico W.

    I liked the episode although this is the first game I didn’t understand at all until it was played. The rules were more complex than the game itself, I think. I didn’t like Twelve Janggi before, but this time round I thought, I’d want to give it a try.
    But I still can’t get my head around Kyunghoon. This was imho the first main match where he was able to show he is worth his place in the finals. And I still doubt that he is such a genius in the death matches by himself, I feel like he had someone who would practice the games with him and find all those little details that made him win (e.g. the card shoe). I hope the players will be provided with jokers more or less equally, otherwise the final will be tiresome. But I can’t wait for it!

  24. Brig Bother Post author

    That was some old-school Genius right there, Main Match essentially a dressed up three-way Black and White II which looks like it features a bit of psychology but in fact could be won strategically on the limited amount of hard data given, which Kyunghoon worked out (I liked the way they played up that he was basically ignoring the questioning on most part because it didn’t really mean anything).

    Tweve Jianggi was *thrilling* up until about the last minute when it outstayed its welcome a bit.

    I’m totally stoked for next week. TOTALLY STOKED. New games! Bring it on.

    1. xr

      It is certainly true that players don’t have the budget to contest everything,so they have to pick their battles. They needed to contest the last round which gave away half the required points, and they needed to save for that, so the rest of the points needed to come from the cheap early stuff.

      Kyunghoon didn’t work out anything so much as won a lottery with odds like 25%. When you focus all your questioning on one guest you can calculate their final price, but there was wild per-item variance, so a priori assuming the biggest overall spender also paid the most for the last item is far from a sure conclusion at the time you need to make it. (The math get a bit complex due to rounds ordered per price, and I’m lazy, so the 5pp over random guest choice are just a guess. Do we have somebody with a good grasp of probabilities?)

  25. Chris M. Dickson

    That might have been my favourite three-player game, on the grounds that I do think the format tends to struggle a bit with 4- and 3- player games. Tempting to wonder what an all-comedian series might be like, if they could find sufficiently many comedians with sufficient skills to play the games. (Seeing the Genius players interact with the SNL talent was… interesting…)

    I did like the change in emphasis on the presentation of Twelve Jianggi with so little ornamentation to the action. Wouldn’t work in many cases, but worked a treat here.

  26. David

    Interesting they are doing 3 new games (or at least variations of games) for the final- wonder if them saying that in the promo is a tipoff that it’ll go all three games?

    Pretty decent total for the winner though- was thinking they’d get 80-90 garnets, not 132.

    1. David B

      Well, a great final to a pretty fine series. It can’t be too easy coming up with games for this show, particularly when so many can be broken by large alliances, so I think they’ve done darn well. Maybe one or two secrets would have been nice, but then again the players are so good at spotting them now that they’re hard to get mileage out of.

      The talk about being there “at the start and the end” and the unusual Farewell message, together with the series title, is a little concerning. Surely they can’t be calling it a day after the great ratings it’s getting. Surely…?

  27. Poochy.EXE


    I loved both of the final games this time, and it definitely helped that both finalists were very skilled in head-to-head games. I do think the stronger player won, although it happened mostly because Kyunghoon seemed to panic whenever he started to fall behind. I don’t know what he was thinking at the end of Number Janggi, there’s obviously no way Dongmin would leave his king in a vulnerable position, so any of Dongmin’s tiles he could actually attack obviously weren’t going to be the king.

    But also, I have no idea what Dongmin was thinking, buzzing in on Round 10 like that. I know that feeling of wanting to keep playing, but even then, with that much money at stake, any game show contestant should know and follow Clavin’s Rule: Never put a sure win at risk. Although at the same time there wasn’t enough running time left in the episode for him to actually pull a Cliff Clavin.

    For the curious, I believe the function in Round 8 of Mystery Sign which they never revealed was the number of circles in the digits, i.e. each 6, 9, or 0 counts as one and each 8 counts as two.

    And I hope the “I will see you next time” is hinting at a 5th season.

    1. Chris M. Dickson

      Ha ha, I was actually expecting that one to come up at some point before it did so! I’m glad that someone tried a hint with a 4 to confirm that it was ovoid spaces rather than just closed spaces, and I was kind of expecting a time-rewind to explain how that one was answered at some point because it’s funny. That said, can anyone come up with a neat explanation for round 11? (Will there be BTS videos explaining 8 and 11, perhaps?)

      I was utterly delighted by this final, from the really neat introduction at the start onwards, and for me this was the best series to date. Maybe season one’s quicker pace and soundtrack suited the show better still, but I loved the interactions and the standard of play.

      Fingers very firmly crossed for a fifth season. I like the idea of an all-comedian show, though it would be very hard to stop them climbing over each other, but I also like the idea of an all-civilian show as well if they can find civilians as brilliant and interesting as the stars they’ve found so far.

      1. Jenny

        The solution for R11 is the number of prime numbers between the two numbers, but not including the two numbers. There are 8 prime numbers between 2 and 27. (3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23)

          1. Ronald

            I’m going to go ahead and assume that Dongmin didn’t know this but was going with the pattern of: “it’s most likely one bigger”.
            Is that unfair?

          2. Alex McMillan

            That’s what I assumed, he really didn’t seem as confident on that one

  28. xr

    I am very sorry I watched it on DailyMotion. Once the 1st half ended with no game started, I knew it was a two game final. It was rather fun if you don’t mind the wild tonal swings though. Snow globes’ split wasn’t overly unexpected, but some of the reasoning was interesting.

    I loathe Stratego with an irrational passion, and Fiddly Stratego was no improvement. I’d have thought that something like Confusion would have been closer to their style of play. The mystery operation game is excellent as a buzzer game, and allows you to scream at the screen the same way Gyul Hap does.

    Far as the gameplay goes, it felt a lot like S3. Kyunghoon just choked under the pressure, playing both games on terrible impulses. Dongmin didn’t even look particularly exercised, and is the clearly deserving winner.

    I would have only expected the explosion of a golden confetti cannon to feel so out of place in some sort of parody. I can’t imagine a US production not wanting to retry that. Fitting given the whimper of an end though.

    Unless the show’s backstage is some sort of riot, or somebody is ridiculously overpaid, I can’t see a network giving up on a show with such consistently good ratings. At worst, they might take a season off to prepare. Don’t they pretty much always treat their season finales as series finales?

    This season provided gameplay that was way up there, and the most meaningful character development arcs of all seasons. I enjoyed it less than I appreciated it though. It is just tamer, with less pushing of the rules till they groan (I want my occasional roundabout self-bribery or key caper), no tolerance for game-breaking exploits, and no reaction at all to lynching or betrayal. And while the design isn’t bad, I am so very weary of forming a mob being the answer to everything. I understand how they try to address it via garnet matches and using the total gained as a reward, but that’s clearly not enough. I have a couple of ideas on that, but this wall of text is plenty tall.

  29. Alex McMillan

    It was an odd final, but quite emotional I thought, nearly teared up at the end, which is unlike me.

    I think the idea of it ending isn’t actually the show getting cancelled, I think they mean this is the end (at least for some time) of those players, and Season 5 will be a completely new cast a-la Season 1, maybe with a bigger gap between Season 4 & 5 to make it feel fresh again.

    Lots of time to come up with new games!

  30. Brig Bother Post author

    What I gather is that the producer/showrunner of the first four seasons is leaving but I don’t think that’s going to be the end of the show, perhaps new blood will be good for it. I would expect Bandage Man saying ‘I’ll see you next time’ is a pretty big hint.

    I very much enjoyed this series but for me S3 remains the pinnacle for me, pretty much great games all the way through and even the duffer ones saved by the casting.

    What I thought was really interesting this time round is the way Dongmin played, last time get in an alliance with Hyunmin – you’ve got the brains, I’ve got the looks, let’s make lots of money. This time he seemed to be in an alliance with everyone and pushed for others to win who’d then give him the token of life, and where not possible they’d try to save him anyway, despite working against all of them. Incredible.

  31. RoarJustice

    Wow, what a series.

    Dongmin is fantastic, I could literally watch him all day. Hes entertaining to watch, has such respect for the games and is incredibly talented. It was incredible to watch his run to defending his title which in a cutthroat game like this probably should be impossible!

    Loads of highlights this season. Loved Dongmin taking the piss during Yutnori, Sangmin hiding under the table, Dongmin’s ‘we only had matchsticks when I was a bubba’ routine and Hyunmin breaking down to show how much he cared about the show. Kyunghoon’s rise was great to see, and I think other players rose to be real contenders this time Junseok. Would have liked to have seen more Sangmin as always, but we don’t want everything to be predictable. We even had a winning cameo from Poong!

    I’d like to see an all new cast next time with maybe a couple of callbacks like Hweejong last time out. I think I’d like to see Junseok again, as well as the return of resident clown Hongchul. Overall I thought the games were stronger this season, and the lottery for the deathmatches actually worked really well.

    1. Alex McMillan

      My only complaints were Sangmin taken too early and not enough Yeonseung

      1. guy

        I agree about there not being enough Yeonseung. I was hoping he’d sneak into the finals. If not him, at least be two people who’ve never been to the finals before.

  32. Chris M. Dickson

    You and the Bar get a passing shout out in this podcast hosted by Survivor hall-of-famer Rob Cesternino with guest (and Survivor games consultant) Myles Nye. Recommended!

    It’s exciting to see the The Genius fandom spread; it’s getting fans among the Survivor fandom, I think it’s getting fans among the online poker community, it’s certainly got early fans among people who liked Korean culture at large. Glad to have enjoyed it here, though!

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      This is super interesting, liked the comment about editing to the music rather than the other way round, but also that Black Garnet was perceived to be a bit dull – it’s my favourite series! Incredible.

      If you’re playing along at home 3412.

      1. Tom F

        Ok, I’ll bite.

        For me it’s 1432.

        I think it’s easy to write off series 1 as “well the novelty factor made it seem better than anthing” – but watching it back without that in mind, I think it had the best cast and the best “story” in terms of slightly renegade Jinho managing to thwart the Gura-Sangmin-Sunggyu block. I think it had the best deathmatches, it had a garnet economy that actually worked. It had the best music. I think with some exceptions, it had weak mainmatches, but as an overall watch it still produced a lot of great episodes.

        And notice how I didn’t even mention open-pass.

        4>3 is a close call, but for me series 3 suffered from too many of the interesting players going home too soon (namely Lawer Kang, Cartoonist Jongbeom, Kyunghoon, Banker Sujin) and generally poor DMs (plus the two good ones: monorail and 12 jangii not being used enough). I loved the changes in S3 though, the black garnets and the general shift to more social leaning MMs.

        4’s most impressive achivement for me was that it was really consistent, I would argue every other series had lulled a little around episode 8-9. Ok, maybe 4 lacked in ‘killer’ moments like other series had, but for me it had the strongest MMs, and some of the best play in those MMs aswell. The DMs were a bit mixed. The cast were sound and mostly players dropped out when they stopped being interesting, which was a big point in its favour.

        1. David

          I’d go with 1432 as well.

          1 had its problems (mostly the same few Death Matches being used repeatedly) but the end product was incredible.

          4 got the Main Matches just about perfect but the lottery really didn’t play out in the show’s favour (the same games kept being taken out each week, and then we ended up with the all-poker Episode 10 and Janggi variants at both the end of Episode 11 and start of Episode 12), even though it was a great idea and probably would have worked better with eleven unknown games.

          3 is the definition of mediocrity – the only games that really stood out as good were Memory Maze, Monorail, and Twelve Janggi, and the latter two got recycled more excitingly in the next season anyway.

          2… existed, I guess.

          1. Brig Bother Post author

            You’re all wrong, S3 had so many great moments and games that made sense (no love for Fruit Market? That’s an amazing series opener, especially after the overcomplicated and rather boring mess that was S2’s selection. Stormy Stockmarket? That mining one? The only real duffer was the Swords and Shields one.).

            S1 played Tactical Yutnori THREE TIMES and was only ever interesting when Dongmin played it in S4. And whilst the highs were very high it felt like there was a *lot* of doing algebra round a table. As a proof of concept I liked S1 a lot, but even watching it first time through I felt like there were quite a few boring episodes.

            S4 played up the social game probably a little too high but it was highly entertaining.

            S2 made us watch musical chairs for 90 minutes.

      2. Mister Al

        Clearly the correct response here is 4312.

        1: When it worked well it was utterly brilliant, but there were a few too many games that weren’t that exciting, particularly Death Matches.

        2: More consistency with the quality of the Death Matches, although Main Matches did tend to be needlessly complex at times. Still lots of great talking points — I remember my Twitter timeline blowing up after episode 6 — but ultimately the casting let this series down, as well as Jinho’s unlucky exit through no fault of his own.

        3: The ‘nice’ series. The producers seemed to learn from the mistakes of the previous two series. A likeable cast playing interesting games, generally very well.

        4: Episode by episode, easily the most consistently good series. I loved the casting, I loved the way players apprached the games (more aggressive than series 3 but never nasty), I loved Kyunghoon’s journey and I loved the fact that it meant so much to every player. The highs maybe weren’t as high as series 1 but unlike that series the lows were pretty much non-existent.

        Feel free to disagree with any of the above, although you’d be wrong to do so.

      3. Chris M. Dickson

        Let me speak up on behalf of poor, unloved series two. What are you looking for from a series of The Genius? I’m looking for something that other game shows cannot provide. Series two had an intense and yet practical discourse on the meta-conventions of play with the missing ID card, it had a very high-powered cast (arguably the most famous to Western eyes, at least), it had the best gimmick of any series to date with the ongoing quest for the immunity idol, it might have been the funniest series of a strangely humorous show, it had a demonstration of how well-intentioned game design sometimes really does not work out but that’s still OK and it had the single most magic moment of the series to date.

        No, it’s not better than series 4 or 1, I’m not mad, but we should count ourselves lucky that all four series have been spectacular in their own way. I think I put 4 first because of the intensity and meaning, 1 next because of the high spots, the pace (which later series have lacked), the music and bonus points for the algebra, and can’t decide whether 2 or 3 comes next.

        1. Brig Bother Post author

          Series two had a lot of games that took twenty minutes to explain (bad) or were dull (bad) – it’s notable that they bought back the three point summaries for S3, it felt like a quick cash-in on the success of the first – that’s probably why most of the games were based on existing board games. I don’t really care either way for the gamesmanship or the hidden immunity idol (although I will say that factoring in a fake one was ingenious) – I greatly preferred the mystery and excitement of the Black Missions, I quite liked the cast generally speaking.

          That S2 is the worst still doesn’t make it a bad show, far from it, just the worst season of a very strong show, but reading back through the comments people seemed a bit disappointed at the time.

      4. Kevin G.

        It’s interesting that everyone either loves or hates S2. I’d say S2E6 is the best episode of Survivor I’ve seen in years; whether that’s something The Genius should aspire for is a different question.

        For me, it’s 2>1=4>3. Each season had games that were hits or misses, and relied on the players to make the misses compelling. S2 had people who were entertaining in or out of game, S1 and S4 a little less so (but the casts were still super charming people), but S3 goofing off was mostly Dongmin and his laugh track Ahyoung.

    2. Poochy.EXE

      I’m torn between 1432 and 1342.

      S1 was indeed a bit hit-and-miss, but the hits were frequent and spectacular enough that they overshadow the misses by a mile, and even the misses were usually just mediocre as opposed to flat-out boring, Winning Streak rock-paper-scissors DMs aside (which were at least edited down to be mercifully short). Open Pass is obviously the most memorable hit, but 1-2-3, 5:5, and the Zombie Game were all brilliantly played.

      S2 was without a doubt the weakest of the bunch by a long shot. Most of the Main Matches got brute-forced via strength in numbers and were dull to watch as a result. Those that weren’t were mostly either still dull, overly complicated, or both. I personally thought the stolen ID card episode was complete rubbish, as the stolen ID card completely broke the game, it removed any hint of suspense by making it blatantly obvious from the start that Doohee would come last, and it was a loophole the producers really should’ve anticipated and patched ahead of time considering they went to the trouble of casting people who were supposed to be good at finding clever tricks and loopholes in games. Then came the Blackout DM, which was a game where any player could easily betray their team by leaking information to the rival team. And at this point, if I recall correctly, there was a 5-player alliance vs. Doohee, Jinho, and Yohwan, forcing Doohee to pick at least one guy who was obviously going to betray him. If that wasn’t enough, there obviously wasn’t enough running time left in the episode for anything interesting to happen anyway. Again, zero suspense. The only memorably good moment I can think of in S2 was Laser Chess, and even then I was disappointed that it only made one appearance.

      As for S3 and S4, they were both consistently good, but never quite pulled off anything as spectacular as Open Pass or even 5:5 from S1. The only miss I can remember from S3 was Constellation getting brute-forced by a supermajority alliance, and I personally found S4E10 rather dull and a bit too luck-based in both the MM and DM (the MM basically came down to who was good at the puzzles and who got screwed by getting a card that could bait them to bet against the puzzle winner, then in the DM the tie rule hands a huge advantage to whoever happens to get the better card on the next hand), but other than that the cast generally played well and each episode was interesting in its own right. On the other hand only Twelve Janggi and Monorail really stood out as memorably brilliant. And I still wish they could’ve brought back Laser Chess, perhaps in place of one of the betting games.

  33. Chris M. Dickson

    What’s the moderately amusing connection between Jinho on series 4 of The Genius – according to another interview podcast – and Mel and Sue on Bake-Off?

    1. Chris M. Dickson

      GeniusCast with Scott and Mike‘s most recent episode is an interview with Youhyun (“Dennis”) Kim. It’s well worth a listen; it’s only an hour and a quarter long. (!!) The teaser for the podcast asks “How did Jinho get production to not use footage he didn’t want on the show?“; the answer is that Jinho, like Mel and Sue, effs and jeffs in the most industrial terms so that the footage becomes unusable. (There’s no suggestion that any of the gameplay was ever lost in this way; the suggestion is that Jinho only ever did this when he was ribbed in a way that he didn’t like, such as jabbing at his relatively weak English.)

  34. Lukachkinas

    Me and The Genius’ Reddit went crazy. We know, that all the games from The Genius are good. But which game is the best?
    Join me in absolutely unnecessarily complicated summer-long contest of choosing the best Main Match and Death Match.
    (Please note, that we’re rating ideas, rules, twists and possible hacks of games, not the ways they were played on the show.)
    Round 1/5 – I randomly divided 40 Main Matches in 4 groups with 10 in each and 22 Death Matches in 2 groups with 11 in each. Please, choose 3 most and 3 least favorite games in each group (we don’t use best and worst games, just because there isn’t a worst game, every game has something good in it). Poll closes next Sunday, 19th of June.
    Link to a reddit post –
    Link to a poll –

    Thanks in advance for voting!

    1. Alex McMillan

      I will do everything in my power to ensure Blackout Game makes it through!

  35. Chris M. Dickson

    Quintin Smith, who you may know from Shut Up and Sit Down and the like, recently had a half-hour conversation with game designer Mink Ette about The Genius recorded for the sixth episode of Mink’s Fun Times With Great People podcast. Highly recommended, obviously. You may particularly like the way it (almost) ends:

    “If we’ve convinced… two people out there to go and try The Genius then maybe those two people will show another two people … and then someone will commission me to do the UK version of The Genius. ((…)) I’m honestly thinking, like, I was watching Society Game the other day and thinking, like, ‘If I become famous enough, can I parlay my fan base to pay me to do YouTube versions of, like The Genius?'”

    Pre-reg for the Kickstarter campaign starts… somewhere.


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