Saturday, July 13, 2019

Board Game Review - Just One

While I usually gravitate towards heavier, more strategic games, there are many people I play with who prefer lighter games or party games. Even though I prefer more in-depth games, there are times that I even turn first to a lightweight/party game. So when Just One crossed my path, I was intrigued.

The concept is simple. One player is designated the guesser for the round and draws a card with 5 words on it. That player doesn't look at the card but rather puts it on an easel facing away from them so the other players can see the words. The guesser specifies a number between 1 and 5 to identify the word to be guessed. The guesser then closes his or her eyes while the other players begin silently thinking of single word clues. Once the clues are determined and written down, the guesser opens his or her eyes and has a single chance to guess the word. Right or wrong they score a point (or don't) and then the next guesser gets to draw a card and start the next round.

Sounds simple, but the catch of the game is that any duplicated clues are removed and cannot be used to help the person make their guess.

For example, the guesser may draw a card and call for word #3 which is Pasta. The other players may then write their clues on their own dry-erase easels. Perhaps they write the words: food, sauce, Italian, Italy. So before the guesser opens his or her eyes, the other players compare their clues and eliminate any duplicates. As per the rules, even slight variations count as a duplicate so in the example above, the words Italian and Italy would have been eliminated. In this case, the guesser would have to make a guess with the only clues being Food and Sauce.

The rules of the game instruct you to deal out a deck of 13 cards to be used for the game. Final scoring is based on how many cards/words the group guessed correctly. To increase pressure, the rules state that if you guess the word correctly, you take it into your score pile but if you guess incorrectly, you return it to the box ALONG WITH the top card from the remaining deck. Thus, if you get the word right, you gain one point but if you get it wrong you miss out on two points.

Within my own family play, we have modified gameplay slightly and we just create a deck with 2 or 3 cards for each player in the game and don't impose an extra penalty for guessing incorrectly. We also don't really keep score but just have fun playing and guessing and seeing how everybody thinks.

This game is really very simple at its heart. It's quick to learn and easy to understand but it has tricky thinking involved. You want to make sure you're writing a clue that is unique enough that it won't be eliminated but common enough that it will make sense to the guesser. The game can technically be played with as few as 3 people but the fun really ramps up with more players. It makes it more difficult and more entertaining. More players mean people have to be more creative in their clues to avoid duplication which can lead to some zany clues.

The components seem great. So far the dry erase markers are doing well but I'm sure we'll have to replace them at some point. The cards are lightweight and will likely start wearing down in the future but that's alright. The easels are well designed and functional.

My only real gripe is that even though the game comes with a decent sized deck of cards (each with 5 words each), we've already gone through the deck a couple of times. This hasn't really caused a problem since it's impossible to know for sure what card you've drawn and if we really wanted to add variety we have plenty of other games with word-cards we could use.

Overall, I really enjoyed this game. It's one that I'll gladly play with family and friends. It's quick to teach and learn and very quick to play. Each time I've pulled it out we've usually played at least 3-4 full games in a row. If you have a competitive crew who really wants to go for that perfect score, then the game has a score chart for you and penalties for missed guesses. If you just want casual wordplay fun, it's easy to modify rules and keep it relaxed with your group. It's definitely worth trying out.

4 out of 5 stars

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