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20 Questions

Who was born in Houston, Texas, and has sung twice at the Super Bowl? What is good at hearing, remembers more numbers than you, and can sing songs?

Published by University Games, this new edition of the classic 20 Questions party game is designed for 2-6 players. Get one clue at a time and try to decide what the person, place, or thing could be before your opponents beat you to it.

Gameplay

The board is placed in the center of the table with the clue board right next to it. Everyone places their player token at the start space of the game board. The cards are shuffled and the game is ready to start.

Players take turns being the reader. The reader draws a card and announces if it relates to a person, place, or thing. There are twenty clues listed on the card. The other players take turns being a guesser. The guesser starts by announcing a number. He then covers up that number on the clue board with a chip. The reader reads aloud the clue that is listed on his card under that number. Some numbers won’t be clues at all, but might move the guesser’s token on the game board or give them a free guess token, which can be played before another player’s turn to get an extra turn.

The guesser then has ten seconds to guess who or what the card relates to. There is no penalty for an incorrect guess.

When a player guesses a card correctly, points are scored. Each card is worth twenty points. The reader earns points equal to the number of clues that have been read out, while the guesser earns the remaining points. For each point you earn, you move your player token one space up the game board. Some spaces have special effects when you end your movement on them, such as moving you forward an extra space. There are also bonus round spaces. When you land on one of these, before a new round starts, you get a bonus round in which a new card is drawn and you can ask for up to five clues. The number of points you earn is based on how few clues you asked for before you were able to guess the card. The reader does not earn any points from bonus rounds.

The first player to cross the finish line on the board wins the game.

20 Questions Components

Review

This board game adaptation of the classic guessing game does a good job of keeping what’s fun about 20 Questions while putting its own spin on the gameplay. It’s all about the clues that are already written and trying to piece them together, and the clues are well chosen. The unpredictability of which clues will be read means that even the reader doesn’t know if you’ll be getting an easy one or a hard one.

There’s an impressive number of cards included in the game. You’ll be able to play the game many times before worrying about the same card coming up again, so long as you don’t shuffle after your initial attempt. But the jumbled nature of which clues get read, also ensures that the game has lots of replay value.

On the downside, the scoring system allows the reader to really run away with a lot of points if he happens to have drawn a card about something that the players just don’t know anything about. There is also no rule to break a tie when two players cross the finish line on the same round. This seems like an oversight that should have been anticipated — however, this is one of those games where the details of the scoring are not where the meat of the gameplay is, so this isn’t a big deal and it’s easy to come up with a house rule that suits your group.

20 Questions is a very straightforward party game. The components, from the chips to the cards, look a little underwhelming, but it’s a fun, easy guessing game with a wide appeal, and that ‘a-ha’ moment when you put the clues together is quite satisfying.

Pros: Plenty of cards provided, system for asking for clues, very easy to teach

Cons: Components could be a little fancier, ties are not addressed in the rulebook, scoring can be a little uneven

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.