Cost: $20.00 at Toys 'R' Us From: Milton Bradley Players: 4 or more Playing Time: 30-60 minutes Type of game: Party Complexity: 2 Skill level: 7 Reviewed by: Peter Sarrett, Issue 1.4, May/June 1993
Not since Pictionary has there been a party game so easy to learn, fun to play, and universally enjoyed as Taboo. In the past two years, this game has received more play with a wider group of people than any other game in our collection.
Taboo is played by two teams of at least two players each. The object of the game is to correctly identify as many words as possible in one minute. Taboo comes with a deck of double-sided word cards. Each side contains six words-- one in large, colored print at the top, the rest in smaller black print beneath. On a team's turn, one member of the team becomes the clue giver and loads a stack of cards into the provided card holder. When the timer is started, the clue giver tries to get his teammates to say the word at the top of the first card. He can't use gestures or "sounds like" clues but must accomplish his task through verbal clues only. But here's the catch: the clue giver is forbidden to say any form of any word on the card. For example, a card might have CAMEL as the colored word and ANIMAL, DESERT, HUMP, SPIT, and CIGARETTES as the taboo words. The clue giver would have to find a way to describe CAMEL without using any of those words.
Simple, right? Not necessarily. There are usually plenty of ways to succeed. The problem is, once you look at the taboo words you tend to get stuck on them and it's difficult to knock your thought processes onto a different track. It's kind of like trying not to think of a pink elephant. And in Taboo, the other team is looking over your shoulder to make sure that you don't screw up. If you use one of the taboo words, they'll sound the game's buzzer and you'll forfeit a point and valuable time. You can pass if you're stumped, but it costs you a point also. When a word is guessed, buzzed, or passed, you move on to the next card. When time expires, your team earns one point for every word guessed (and loses one for each passed or buzzed word). Then the other team gets a shot at it. We usually play until everyone on every team has had a chance to give clues. And then we usually play again.
Team members are free to guess at the word as many times as needed until they get it right. Although theoretically there can be any number of people on a team, volume makes it difficult to distinguish answers once teams reach eight or so.
A refill pack with a few hundred more words is available, as is a Celebrity Taboo edition where all the colored words are famous names. Beware, though-- Celebrity Taboo requires a knowledge of who the celebrities are and is substantially harder than the regular edition.
We've played Taboo with a huge variety of people from teens to grandparents, and all have been delighted. it's quick, easy to learn, and anyone can play it. If you buy only one game this year, make it Taboo.