Taboo Review
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In Association with
Players: 4+, in teams
Playing Time: varies

Could you get your friends to guess the word “diamond” if you gave them enough clues? What if you couldn’t say “baseball,” “ring,” “carat,” “jewel,” or “engagement?” It’s trickier than you’d imagine. But that’s the object of Taboo—to get your teammates to guess well-known words within a short amount of time without using the terms that are most commonly associated with that word.

Each team gets one minute to try and guess as many Taboo words as possible. One player (the reader) gets a stack of Taboo cards, and goes through one at a time, suggesting hints to his teammates. The word that the players need to guess is at the top of the card, and then five words are listed underneath. The reader needs to get his teammates to guess the Taboo word without using the five other words to describe it—with a player from the other team watching over his shoulder like a hawk (with a very annoying buzzer). If the reader screws up and says one of the forbidden words, the player from the other team buzzes him—BUZZ!—and the team loses a point. Game play continues in rounds until one team reaches a certain number of points (determined before the game).

This game is fantastic at parties, with a lot of people. I’ve found that the best way to get around those forbidden words is to either use inside jokes (it’s handy to have family or close friends on your team if you’re going to try this) or use song lyrics or famous sayings to lead your team to the correct word. For example, I had a friend once try to get our team to guess “moon” by saying, “The man in the…” Of course, I messed things up for my team by yelling out, “Mirror!” (thinking of the Michael Jackson song). They don’t let me play anymore.

Taboo really is a lot of fun, especially after a few drinks. Beware of children handling the buzzer, though—they think it’s so much fun that they’ll keep buzzing away long after the game is over (and when you already have a headache). Luckily, the batteries are removable.

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