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.

Tension

4 - 5 Strike Thro

2.5 - 5

Number of Players: 2+ (team play)

Year of Publication: 1992

Publishers: Cheatwell Games and Drumond Park Ltd.

There Was Much Tension:

Tension is an interesting game, in the sense that it says; “NO! Not all answers to this question are right… Only the ones that I randomly preordain as right will score you points”. So. You end up getting angry at it because you name every James Bond film except for the ones written on the card.

What’s In The Box:

The Stuff!
The Stuff!
  1. The game board.
  2. 1 Orange and 1 Purple deck of Quiz cards.
  3. Pad of scoring sheets.
  4. Two playing pieces.
  5. Sand timer.
  6. Rules book.
  7. Two pencils.

Playing The Game:

Objective: To be the first player/team to reach the ‘Tension’ marker in the middle of the board.
The starting setup.
The starting setup.

Each player/team places their piece at the start, then the opposite team draws a card of choice (either purple or orange). They write the title of the card on their score sheet (you are effectively keeping score for the other team). Then they read out the title of the card and flip the timer over. The other team has until the timer runs out to guess as many of the ten things written on that card, that fall into that category – for example “James bond Films”, “Madonna Hits” or “British Inventions” – as possible. The team who reads the card out ticks off each one they get right on the score card until the time is up. The team then gets to moves the amount of spaces they got right. The colour of the square they are now on dictates the colour of the next card that will be drawn for them. They then do the same

for the other team.

The additional factors are the question mark squares and the whirlpool squares:

  • Question mark squares – The player must guess how many answers they are going to get right before the title of the card is read. If they get at least that many right they may move the amount the guessed (and no more) forward, if they get less than what they guessed they have to move the amount they guessed backwards. The colour of the card they get for these squares is chosen by the other team.
  • Whirlpool squares – If you land on one of these at the end of your move, the move you just made is immediately made again e.g. if you moved 7 and ended on a whirlpool you get to move 7 again straight away.

The player to reach the middle of the board first wins!

Strategy:

Possible strategy to this game is limited but here are a few things:

  1. BE REALLY SMART OR PICK THE SMART PERSON TO BE ON YOUR TEAM – Basically knowing a lot about a lot of things is helpful… As in all quiz games.
  2. TACTICALLY TRY TO HIT WHIRLPOOLS – If you can think fast enough you can try to hit Whirlpools intentionally. For example if you know you need eight to land on one, stop guessing once you know you’ve got eight right, because they you’ll move sixteen over all.
  3. TACTICALLY TRY TO MISS QUESTION MARKS – Try to miss question marks by making sure you get more or less than the amount needed to land on one.

History and Interesting Things:

There is almost no history to be found on this game except that there are two editions of the game; the first one published in 1992 as Tension: The Crazy Naming Game and the second edition published more recently as Tension:The Zany Crazy Naming game, this is the edition we have which has more up to date topics/answers than the original.

To Conclude:

This could be a very good game; it’s easy to see how the concept could be expanded to make it more of a board game as well. You could add more of a maze type board and directional options that allow you to choose between which type of cards you’re more likely to get given. This would make it less based on just knowing stuff – yeah I know it’s a quiz game, but it could be that and so much more. Also some of the cards are a bit questionable as to who could possible guess those 10 answers correctly, like this one:

IMAG2619
The one that can’t be read because of the flash is “Swiss Cheese”.

Not only is the question so broad it literally has millions of answers but the 10 answers picked to be “the chosen few” are mostly ridiculous! If the questions where a little better devised and the general game design a little more complex it could be a very good game. Additionally I see no real reason why it needs to be only two players/teams, apart from the fact that the teams/players who aren’t guessing or reading are sitting around doing nothing… But that’s true of most board games ever… If it’s not your turn, you’re not doing anything.

It does have the advantage that it’s easy to play, quite quick, and a good laugh, so it’s not all bad… It could just be so much better!