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Time's Up - the best party game I have played in years!
Now that's the short summary. But really, the first time we pulled this out to play, after we finished, everyone was just rolling on the floor in laughter - and that's a rarity with us.
We've played a lot of good party games recently, Apples to Apples and Moods come to mind. It seems that party games in these days, thanks to some excellent submissions, are being pushed to better quality and better ideas.
Now to the review.
When I first opened the box, it looked like many other party games, where there was a stack of cards, a timer, and a score pad. No innovation there. Then, as the rules instructed, we dealt out 40 cards among the six players playing, and then 2 more per player. Each card had a blue name and a yellow name on it. For this game, we would play with the yellow names, although there was really no difference. We were then allowed to discard 2 cards apiece, so we all got rid of 2 names we didn't know. We then had a deck of 40 cards, and the instructions said to put the rest of the cards away, that we wouldn't need them for this game. THAT floored me - I was fairly happy that the cards in the box would last many games.
Time's Up has three rounds. The first round is the longest. Starting with one team (teams of 2 are preferable), one person takes the deck of cards and gives clues to their teammate, trying to get them to guess the name on the card before the timer runs out. You can say anything you want, pantomine, except for the name or part of the name on the card. Sounds easy - and sometimes is, but when either the cluegiver or guesser doesn't know who in the world the person it is - it can be quite a chore. This is where a lot of laughter ensues. You can say things like: "The first name is the same as your brother's oldest child, and the last name sounds like the construction vehicle!" to get Steven Crane. And believe me, the clues people give each other often border on the hilarious! Once a name is guessed, the card is taken out, and the next name is used. What makes it hard is that there is no passing in this round, so if you're stuck with a hard name, tough!
Once all the cards are done, everyone gets one point for each card their teams have. Then, the names are read aloud, and the instructions have a glossary with a short definition of each name in case no one knows who the person is. After everyone says "Oooohh, so that's who they are!" the cards are reshuffled, and round 2 begins.
The differences between round 2 are these. 1). You can pass - hooray! 2). The guesser only gets one guess - if they guess wrong, put the card aside. 3). The cluegiver can only give one word. (and sounds and pantomines. It's not as hard as it sounds, since stupid clues and sounds we made the first round now become the clues for this round.
Round 3 is the exact same as round two, except for no words at all! This can be very hard, and it's hilarious to watch people's pantomines. My wife has never touched drugs, but the pantomine she did of sniffing up some brought tears of laughter to all of our eyes - in fact I was laughing so hard we lost all the rest of our time.
And that's the whole point of the game - the point of any good party game. Having fun and laughing. That's the reason that Beyond Balderdash is my favorite party game (but this one is just as good, I think). It doesn't matter if you lose - horribly, as long as you have a good time.
Now, I do think that it's quite possible that Time's Up would be a dud with the wrong group. You have to jump into the game and just have a good time. However, that kind of group rarely plays party games. If you are reading this review, then you'd most probably like this game. Two expansions, adding even more names, are already on the market, as well as a set of blank cards - so it seems like the game should have very high replay value.
I highly recommend this game - good price, great fun, is playable in a about an hour, and will make you laugh as you've never laughed before.