Taboo


4 - 5

Number of Players: 4 – 10

Year of Publication: 1989

Creator(s): Brian Hersch (designer), René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo (artists)

NO. FLAILING COUNTS AS CHEATING.

Taboo is an absolutely hilarious game, even more so when you play with people you know really well. It’s only kind of a quiz game, in that it’s not actually about how much stuff you know, it’s about your ability to describe.

What’s In The Box:

The Stuff.
The Stuff.
  1. 1 Rulebook
  2. 1 Taboo Easel
  3. 1 Really Annoying “Nuh-Uh” Button
  4. 1 Score Pad
  5. 2 Reversible Word Decks
  6. 1 Timer
  7. 1 Pencil
  8. 1 Die

Playing The Game:

Objective: To get more points than your opponent by accurately describing more words to your team.

This game’s pretty simple, essentially you just divide up into teams, and then take it in turns to do some describing. You choose one player from your team to describe, and one to guess. The describer then places one card up on the easel, like this:

This is how you put the cards you're describing.
This is how you put the cards you’re describing.

As you can see, there are four colours on each card, which is great, is allows you to play four different games, and the colours have different kinds of words on them. We were playing to describe the green words, so the deck is placed accordingly face-down inside the easel and only one card at a time is revealed. Once the top card is turned up it’s the job of the describer to describe the word in such a way that their partner can guess it. BUT, they aren’t allowed to say the word on the card, or any of the words underneath it. These are “Taboo” words, and saying any of these causes you to give away a point to your opponents, as does passing because of the difficulty of a word to describe. They’re also not allowed to say the letter that the word begins with, or make explicit gestures.

Whilst you’re doing this you sit with one of the players from the other team; they’re given the annoying “Nuh-Uh” button and if you say anything you shouldn’t, they hit it so everyone knows you’ve made a mistake. For every word your partner guesses correctly, you get one point. Every time you finish a word, either because it’s been correctly guessed, passed or you said a Taboo word, you then flip up another card, trying to get through as many as possible per turn. The timer is used to regulate turns, each team is only allowed to turn it over once per turn and when it runs out your turn is over.

There is a second, slightly different version of this game, wherein the die is used. The only difference this makes is that at the start of each turn the describer has to roll the die, and then slightly different conditions apply. For instance, this side of the die means that the player describing must sit still like a statue:

Sit on your hands! (I also appreciate that the quality of this photo is terrible - Dave's away so these photos were done on my phone)
Sit on your hands! (I also appreciate that the quality of this photo is terrible – Dave’s away so these photos were done on my phone)

The die does make the game slightly more interesting, but can be frustrating if you continually forget to roll or only get that face showing…

 

Winning The Game:

Points are scored how I said above, players pre-determine how many rounds or sections of the deck are going to be played before play starts. Once that number of cards has run out, the game is over, and the winner is the team left with the most points!

 Strategy:

I can’t really figure one for this game, don’t waste your time waving your arms around? Try and partner up with someone who thinks similarly to you, sometimes you get a word that you can make an obscure film or song reference to, to help your partner guess it. But that’s no help if they’ve no idea what you’re on about!

History and Interesting Things:

  1. There was a game show based on Taboo, hosted by Chris Wylde, in 2002.
  2. In 2010, Cassandra Dominguez scored a record of 38 points in a four-round game at the World Board Gamers Convention.
  3. The buzzer for the game featured on the Special Project episode of The Office.
  4. Originally there was a board with the game, like in Tension, but this is no longer in the current editions of the game.

As far as history goes, that’s about it, it was only published in 1989, so not very long ago. It’s been on the radio and appeared in a few different TV shows, but other than that it’s not got much to say for itself.

 To Conclude:

Taboo is a great game, a lot of fun, very light hearted and generally very silly. Like most games, it’s more fun with more people. Also, the fact that the rules explicitly say that you’re allowed to burst into song to help your partner guess a word really appeals to our family.

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