I have to confess that I’m not a big fan of party games. I’ve enjoyed many games of Apples to Apples but, on a whole, when I think of games, I do not think of party games. Despite this, you can’t get away from playing some party games, particularly when people know that you’re a gamer.
25 Words or Less is one of the more enjoyable party games that I’ve experienced. It combines a simple idea with simple rules to create a challenging and competitive game. It doesn’t have the universal appeal that I’ve found in Apples to Apples but it’s a game I am not going to complain about playing.
25 Words or Less combines bidding with a very simple word game. It has no theme to speak of; it is simply game of words, the fewer the better.
The game comes with a board that simply shows twenty-six spaces (twenty-five to zero) in a circle, a sand timer, and a box of cards. Each card has two lists of five words, one list in black and the other in blue. The lists on are on the same side of the card but on opposite ends.
To begin, divide everyone who is playing into two teams. It generally helps if you have even numbers but that’s not always possible. Then, decide which of the two colors of lists you will be playing with. Since each card has two lists, that doubles the effective lifespan of the game.
Each round begins with an auction. One player from each team goes up at the beginning on each round. They draw a card and both will look at the list. They then begin bidding on how many words they will need to use in order to get their team to guess the words on the list. Whoever bids the lowest wins the auction and the chance for their team to guess the list.
The person who did not win the bid becomes the time and word keeper. They turn the sand timer over and place the timer on the number equal to the winning bid.
The person who won the auction must now convey the words on the list using only as many words as they bid. They can neither use the words themselves or any part of the word. Likewise, they cannot make any gestures, other than nodding or pointing when someone gets the word right. Every time they say a word, the time keeper moves the timer one space down on the board. When they have said all their words, they are no longer able to speak.
If their team guesses all the words before the timer runs out of sand, their team gets the card, which counts as a point. If they run out of time or the person who is giving the hints somehow disqualifies themselves, the other team gets the card and the point.
The game is played to an agreed upon number of points. The rules themselves say to play to ten points, which means there will be a maximum of nineteen rounds. Whoever reaches that number first is the winner.
That’s it. Like so many party games, the actual idea behind 25 Words or Less is really quite simple. You’re trying to convey an idea with as few words as possible. The real competition of the game comes from the auctions and that’s what gives 25 Words or Less a real edge over many other party games in my book.
I also like the fact that someone is going to get a point each round, one way or another. Unlike some games, an endgame is inevitable and the game will never be dead in the water.
Unfortunately, I have also found that the bidding and scoring that I like so much can lead to a strategy of bidding your opponent down to the point where the chances of them successfully winning the card are very low. Then, you just collect points based on your opponents’ failures. The fact that I have seen this strategy successfully pulled off is a serious flaw in the game as far as I’m concerned.
Despite this, 25 Words or Less is a good party game. The reason I play party games is to have fun and this game is fun. The simplicity leads to a clean, fast playing game that everyone can get involved in. It may not be a perfect gem but 25 Words or Less is a game worth having on your shelf.