Cranium Review
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Players: 4+
Playing time: About an hour, though it depends on the number/skill of the players


Iíll admit that I was a bit skeptical about Cranium at first. Iíve never been much of an artist, so Iíve always been intimidated by Pictionary. And Iíve never been much of an exhibitionist, so Iíve always avoided charades like the plague. But take the two of them and throw in a few things Iím pretty good at (like word games and pointless trivia), and youíve got yourself a game thatís right up my alley. In fact, I think I can safely say that itís right up just about anyoneís alley.

The object of Cranium is to make your way around the board, completing activities as you go. Depending on your position on the game board, that could mean answering a trivia question, drawing with your eyes closed, humming, acting, molding something out of clay, or even spelling words backwards. If your team is the first to make it around the board and into the center and complete one of each of the four activities (and one other activity, as chosen by your opponents), you win.

  
 
I think the most appealing thing about Cranium is that it gives each player his or her opportunity to shine. For instance, my husband is an incredible artistóso when we had to do a drawing activity, he did the drawing. But when the activity involved spelling, it was up to me. So I could do the things that Iím good at, and he could do the things that heís good at. And together, we made a pretty good team.

When we first played Cranium, our only complaint was with the Fast Track. There are four special spots on the board, and if, while youíre on that spot, you correctly complete the activity on your first try, you can take a shortcut. If you donít, you have to take the long way. While itís a great reward for answering questions correctly, it also can mean that one lucky team speeds around the board, while another team, who got a few tough questions, is stuck far behind. To even things out a bit, I might try playing without the Fast Track in the future.

That aside, however, Cranium is an excellent party game. Because Cranium isnít just a word game. And itís not just a trivia game. Itís not just a drawing game, either. Itís all of the above. Itís great for everyoneóthe word whiz, the trivia master, the artist, the actor, the exhibitionist, and even the wallflower. In fact, itís my new favorite game. Pick up a copy, and Iím sure youíll find that itís your new favorite game, too.


Ed. Note: Once youíve played so many games that youíve used all of your cards, donít fret! You can order more! And if you want to make things a little more personal, you can customize and print your own cards. Check out Cranium.com for detailsóor to try out some sample activities.

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