by Gary Sonnenberg
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Reverse Charades is what traditional charades always wanted to be – fun.
The game and gameplay
I’ve never been a big fan of charades. Despite its supposed popularity, I know a lot of other people who don’t care for it either. So when some of us got together to try Reverse Charades, I had the bar set really low. I could have set it significantly higher; this game still would have cleared it easily.
The basic premise of Reverse Charades is the same as in the traditional game. You act out a word or short phrase for someone else to guess. In the version of the traditional game that I know, one person acts out the word until one of his friends guesses correctly. Then it’s that person’s turn to pantomime.
In Reverse Charades, the turning of the tables means that one person guesses while all of his friends on his team do the acting out. You get one minute using a sand timer to solve as many pantomimes as possible. Then it’s the other team’s turn. You can play for a set number of rounds or number of points or whatever game ending condition you prefer. The winning team is the one who correctly guesses the most words.
The differences in the two games feel subtle but are really very effective. One of the biggest differences is that you obviously don’t have to work solo. Standing up with friends is a big boost to one’s confidence. In other words, you can get by with a little help from your friends.
The timer helps too, because you know you don’t have to stand up there forever – possibly making a fool of yourself. In Reverse Charades, since you are trying for more than one word per turn, you do get to pass on one of the randomly selected cards if you all find it too difficult.
A fair number of the cards in Reverse Charades have items that are easier to solve with more than one person. I assume this was done on purpose. The proper nouns on the other hand are somewhat more difficult, simply because you don’t know that they’re proper nouns and may go for a related common noun instead. This could easily be rectified by agreeing on some signal that a proper noun is in play. We hadn’t arranged for such a signal in our game.
By the time our game was done, the temperature of the room had risen significantly from all the efforts put forth by the players. The players had had many laughs during the game, and there were still smiles on every face when it was over.
Pros and cons
The components are very basic, but they are well crafted and cover everything needed.
You do need at least six people to play (and I’d recommend no more than eight), but you know going in that this is a party game and wouldn’t pull it off the shelf if you didn’t have that many.
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Reverse Charades is a really cool party game that even the most timid should enjoy. Not having to be on stage all by yourself takes away any worries you might have about feeling foolish. Technically, you could even hang back and let the bold members of your team do all the work, but where’s the fun in that?
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