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[Review] 25 Words or Less

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  • Tom Vasel
    Do you realize that whatever you are asked to do when it comes to words, it seems easier to do the opposite? When I had to write a 1,000 word paper on the
    Message 1 of 1 , May 7 2:43 PM
      Do you realize that whatever you are asked to do when it
      comes to words, it seems easier to do the opposite? When I had to
      write a 1,000 word paper on the subject of being good in school as a
      child, I was trying to stretch the amount of words with 900 to go!
      Even in college, I struggled to "fluff" papers, filling them up with
      words to reach required word counts or page counts. And yet, when I
      am confronted with 25 Words or Less (Winning Moves Games, 1996 -
      Bruce Sterten), I find it just as hard to be succinct in my
      wordage. Here, I want to say all the words I can, but I am
      limited! Will no one let me do what I want?

      But hey, despite the annoyances it gives me - 25 Words or
      Less is an excellent party game. As long as players keep it moving,
      it can provide quite a bit of entertainment, and people will realize
      that they don't have to say near as many words in conversational
      English as they thought. A good auctioning system combined with a
      fun word-guessing game, make 25 Words or Less a top party game. One
      great aspect of the game is that it can support a good amount of
      players, and can be taught in about 2 minutes (high requirements for
      good party games) - and therefore 25 Words or Less often comes with
      me when I travel to parties, etc.

      The concept of the game is extremely simple. All players
      are divided into two teams, which do not have to be even, but must
      have at least two players each. A game board is set in the middle
      of the table, which basically has a ring of circles - each
      numbered "0" through "25". Nineteen cards are taken from the box of
      cards and placed face down in the middle of the board, as well as a
      one-minute sand timer. Players are ready for each round - with one
      person per team taking the role of clue-giver each round. Before
      starting, players should decide what set of words on the cards they
      will use - black or blue.

      To start each round, the clue-givers will study the five
      words on the top card of the pile in the color everyone has chosen.
      An example of five words is: oil, landmark, pet, New York, and
      rummy. Starting with one of the players, they bid how many words
      they think that they can get their team to guess the answers in.
      The bidding starts at twenty-five clue words and gets progressively
      lower. Whichever player drops out first becomes the judge, and puts
      the timer on the circle that matches the last number bid. The judge
      then flips the timer, and the clue-giver begins giving clues to his
      teammates, trying to get them to guess the five words on the card.
      When giving clues...
      - The clue-giver can try to get their teammates to guess the
      words in any order.
      - The judge moves the timer on one space for every word the
      clue-giver says.
      - The clue-giver may use only words, not actions or other
      - The words used may not say "sounds like", etc., or use parts
      of the word in their clue.
      - If the timer runs out before all five words are guessed, the
      round ends with the judge's team getting the card as an award.
      - If the clue-giver uses more words than he bid (the timer
      passes zero), then the round ends with the judge's team getting the
      card as an award.
      - If the clue-giver's team guesses the five words before time
      runs out, then the clue-giver's team gets the card as an award.

      After one of the teams wins the card, the next round begins, and
      rounds continue thus; until one of the teams wins ten cards. At
      this point, the game ends - with that team being the winner!

      Some comments on the game...

      1.) Components: The cards are nice, although I would have used
      different colors than were used - the blue and black are too
      similar. One also wonders why they didn't print the words on both
      sides, to better utilize space. The board, while not entirely
      necessary is certainly nice, and it really does help with the
      counting of the words. The cards are stored in a little box, which
      along with the board and the timer, fit into a cardboard insert in a
      nicely decorated (and self-proclaiming) box. The box is seriously
      much bigger than is necessary, but it is sturdy, and American games
      like big boxes, I guess.

      2.) Rules: The rules are written on a sheet of laminated card
      stock, and are written simply, with even a few examples. Of course,
      as this is a party game, simplicity is the key - and makes sense. I
      found that the game is quite easy to teach, and very few rule
      arguments came up.

      3.) Arguments: We had some disagreement over what words could
      and could not be said. Could you say the same word over and over?
      How do you let your listeners know when you go to a different word?
      Can you tell someone if they are close to a word (i.e. "play"
      instead of "playwright"). None of these are answered in the rules,
      so we made up house rules for them - but it would have been nice to
      have some official clarification. It's not always bad to elaborate
      in the rulebook.

      4.) Fun Factor: The game is extremely fun, with a majority of
      the fun happening in the bidding phase. As long as it is kept
      flowing smoothly, the whole game can happen quickly, and everybody
      has a blast. It's especially hilarious to watch someone bid their
      way all the way down to 12 words, and then realize that it took six
      words to get people to guess the first clue. At the same time, it's
      amazing to see someone bid down to ten words, and still get their
      team to guess all the words! This fun really makes the game worth

      5.) Auctions: The auctions could go really slow, if players
      don't keep a handle on things. It's possible, and not necessarily
      mandated against by the rules, for a player to sit there, thinking
      slowly over exactly how many words they need to give out as clues.
      This could take a long while, and makes auctions slow and BORING.
      We just instituted a house rule, that gives players about 10 seconds
      to make their bid, or else they automatically drop out. This
      encourages people to bid faster.

      I recommend this game - it's not a GAMES Magazine Game of the Year
      for nothing. There are party games that I enjoy more, but this one
      is amongst my most popular. It's a pleasure to play this game, as
      it has one of the hallmarks of a good party game - that you have
      fun, even when it's not your turn. It would have been nice if the
      rules were clearer - but hey, some simple house rules can solve that
      problem. If you're a party game fan, then this is an excellent
      addition to your collection. I've also had great success using it
      while traveling - it even works fairly well on a bus. For this
      reason, I have to give this game a thumbs up.

      Tom Vasel
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