Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Board Game Review: Time's Up! Title Recall

Time's Up! Title Recall is a party game published by R&R Games.

Players are divided into teams: teams of two work best. Forty cards are dealt out face down.These forty cards represent titles of books, movies, TV shows, music, etc. One team is selected to go first.

Play is similar to Password: the cluegiver is trying to get their teammate to guess the title. Players can say or do anything to get their teammate to answer correctly. (There are a few obvious restrictions, like not using part of the title in the clues given.) Each team has thirty seconds to go through as many cards as possible. After thirty seconds the unguessed cards are passed to the next team. Repeat this process until all the cards have been guessed.

After all cards are guessed, they are reshuffled into a deck again. The process is repeated, only this time the cluegiver can only say one word. Again, play continues as normal: after thirty seconds, the unguessed cards are passed to the next team, and play continues until all cards are guessed.

On the third round, the cards are shuffled again. This time, the cluegiver can only use gestures, similar to charades.

Teams score each round based on the number of cards they guessed. Highest team wins!

What I liked about this game:
  • It's a hilarious game. I have yet to play a game that didn't devolve into laughter and inside jokes and talking about it later in the week. 
  • Because the deck is reshuffled twice and the same answers come up again and again, there emerges a kind of meta-game. Describing Mad Men in round one devolves to simply saying "drinking" or "smoking" in round two, which devolves into mimicking someone drinking, smoking, and being a degenerate in round three.Reducing complex pieces of culture into a few words and eventually just a gesture is fantastic, and it's amusing to see how people's brains make those connections.
  • The thirty seconds is just about perfect. It's enough to run through a handful of cards, but it levels the playing field for those who are struggling.  It also keeps the game moving quickly, and since people are trying to pay attention to the clues other players give, everyone is always engaged.
  •  You don't need to know all the works of culture represented. (Nearly all of them are recognizable, even if people aren't familiar with the work itself.) There's nothing wrong with acting things out phonetically--in fact, that makes the game even more enjoyable, as people latch on to the literal word. Twelfth Night by Shakespeare might become a dozen donuts delivered after sundown by round three.
What I didn't like about this game:
  • Not much. It's an almost perfect party game. The only issue I have is that there is almost always one or two cards at the end of rounds 2 and 3 that no one can guess--guessers can't remember that one card, and it's just not clicking. After a certain point we will just open it up and all cluegivers are working at the same time and all players are guessing until someone gets it right. Since it's only one or two cards, and it rarely makes a difference in who "wins" this has never been an issue.
I grade this an A-. If there are people who aren't into pop culture, they're going to have a tough time with this, and people who are clearly uncomfortable with charades will probably hate it, so it's not a game for everyone. But this game is probably tied with Say Anything as the best party game I've had the most success with. 

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