Boy, that escalated quickly. I mean that really got out of hand fast.
I don't usually care for party games. When our group gets together, I tend to gravitate towards the meatier euro's or wargames that are being played. But, my wife really doesn't care for the heavier games and when we want to find some common ground, we look to the party games. One of my chief complaints about most party games is sloppy rules, unequal difficulty in things you accomplish, and unequal rewards. Someone or some group of people at the end usually are declared the winner, but there usually is a feeling of "This is just an activity to pass time" kind of feeling when playing these kinds of games for me.
Paired up has some of the problems as well, but for the most part, I really enjoy the attempt, and we've modified the game a little from the base rules to make it a really enjoyable and tense game. There is even a bit of what I think is inovation in the game concerning how teams are formed.
What the game has in it
This game is pretty simple. There is a scoresheet pad for all players to track their score (which I recommend you photocopy off so you can always have some), a sand timer, a set of cards, a die, and a set of cards detailing how the players should "pair up" during the course of the game.
These cards detailing the sequence of pairing up make are a very clever idea. Normally, in games where you have people working as a guesser and a describer (think Taboo, Password, games where someone is trying to make someone else guess a hidden word or phrase), you need an even number of people to play the game. However, this game assigns each player a number, and then you can follow a chart to determine how the players will be temporarily teamed up. Another game that does the same thing that's currently in print is "Tie One On", and it adds a lot of flexibility to guessing games of this nature. Our game group has taken these pairing chart and applied it to other guessing games so that odd numbers of people can play Password and such.
What the game is about
The game is pretty simple. When your number comes up in the chart, it will list one person as the "giver" and one as the "receiver" The giver is giving clues and trying to make the receiver guess the common pairs of things on the card joined by the word "and". Some pairs I remember off the top of my head are "Salt and Pepper", "Man and Wife", "Over the river and through the woods". The rules do list out some don'ts (Don't spell the word, don't give clues like "Rhymes with ____") keeping the ambiguity down. For each clue you get your partner to guess, you get some points. When the timer runs out (30 seconds or so), you stop giving clues, but there is no other penalty.
What is good about the game
What really (in my mind at least) helps this game out over any other game like this is that you keep switching the partners, and who is giving the clues and who receives them so that no one should feel like they are weighing down their partner. So often, a big barrier to playing new games is that people don't want to let down their team and don't like the pressure to perform. But since your suckiness is spread across the whole group, it's much easier for people to think that they aren't bringing a single person down.
As printed the game can be pretty random. It calls for you to roll a die to determine how much the round is going to be worth for each question. The die is a standard 1-6 value die, so that means you can have a pretty wild swing of values. We have taken to a variant that is really fun and has been well received. We have divided up the sections into equal parts (6 or 5 depending on how many players are playing) and assigned increasing point values to each section starting with 2 points per answer and ending with 5 points per answer. This lets people warm up to the game and give their (hopefully) best when the points are really available to be earned.
This game is simple to teach and has been well received by non-gamers and gamers alike. The simplicity lets you keep on rolling and doesn't add a lot of rules questions that usually get me when we play party games. With the variant we play, the game is really about how well you remember pairs that are usually together in the english language.
The one thing...
The one thing I dislike about the game is the lack of cards in the box. Usually games of this kind come with more than plenty of cards to use, but this one has been used up by our group. We are currently working on a spreadsheet of all the phrases in the game plus more we can think of so we can develop a simple program to generate cards for us (maybe on a mobile device). The effort put into collection of these things really shows how popular it is with our group.
Anyways, if you want to have some clever fun with friends without seeing the deer in headlight looks people give you when you whip out a new game, try this one on. It's great fun and very light weight. Don't forget our variant, it really adds to the value of the game!