Concept – Using Ideas to Guess Words

Have you ever played Catchphrase? It’s a fast-paced game where representatives from two teams try to get their teammates to guess a word by giving clues before a time runs out . It’s a great game, and one that many of my friends and family love.

What if you took that idea and removed all speaking and gesturing? You’d have an impossibly difficult and boring non-game that no one would like. Thankfully, that’s not what Concept is.

Concept is still a word guessing game, and it doesn’t permit speaking or gesturing by the person giving clues. Instead, Concept includes a game board which has dozens of icons grouped into categories (e.g. colors, shapes, and eponymous concepts). By connecting various icons with tokens, the clue giver can hone in on the correct answer.

What Comes in the Box?

Concept’s box insert is perfection.

A ton of tokens of various colors, a stack of cards with lots of words and phrases, a game board with a slew of icons on it, a pile of tokens to keep track of scores, and several sheets to help give ideas of what the icons on the board might mean come in the box. The components themselves are good.

The box itself is worth discussing. The insert holds all of the pieces wonderfully, and a small bowl that fits into the insert can be passed around the table with the tokens inside of it to keep everything easily accessible. The box insert is outstanding.

How Do you Play?

There is a ton of variety here. A huge stack of cards with nine words and phrases each.

A giant stack of cards, each with nine words or phrases grouped into three difficulty levels, will be your source for hours of confusion. A player selects a card, chooses a word or phrase, and tries to get his teammates to guess it. This might be something as simple as “Superman” or as difficult as “Remember, remember, the fifth of November,” although length is not directly tied to difficulty (I spent over half an hour trying to get my teammates to guess “bottle opener”, thinking the card could not have possibly been printed correctly to label it as difficult).

There are five colors of clues (green, red, yellow, blue, and black), with each color having a primary token used to describe a major category and a pile of small cube tokens to go along with the primary token. Green includes a question mark, while the other colors have an exclamation point, in order to indicate the fundamental category of which the word or phrase is.

Does that sound really, really complicated? It isn’t. But the best way to prove that it isn’t complicated is to offer an example. This is one of those games that makes a ton of sense once you see it played.

Can this board represent everything that has ever existed? The designers think so. The word to guess in this image is “George Washington”.

For a quote like “Merry Christmas”, the clue giver would likely place the green question mark onto the “Quote” icon. It might be helpful to add a subcategory, too, which is what the other colors are for. Placing a red exclamation point (the color doesn’t matter) on the “Holiday” icon and then a corresponding red cube on the “Green” and “Red” icons would likely tell other players “This is a quote about a Holiday which is associated with the colors red and green”. Clearly, it’s a word or phrase about Christmas. Other clues might be added (a “Smile” icon, for example), but the team may just guess the right answer from the clues already on the board.

Some words or phrases can be guessed within seconds and some take quite a long time. I recommend a timer of some sort. In many of the games I’ve played, we’ve given up on the team and score systems. Instead, we just took turns trying to get the other people at the table to guess our expression. This works just as well and is just as fun as the standard game.

Who is This Game For?

Party games tend to be great choices for all sorts of people. They tend to be fast, easy to learn, and fun to play.

Concept is no different, especially if you drop the competitive elements of the game. It typically takes a few minutes for someone to take a turn (or to give up), and while it may be difficult to grasp without pieces in hand, the game is easily understood after a turn or two by new players.

I’ve found that this game is more thought-provoking with some groups and more intense with others. The amount of energy and reservedness depends on the people who are playing it, and I’ve seen both extremes. Thankfully, both extremes have been a blast to play. I recommend this game for practically anyone with friends and family around. Out of the hundreds of games I have played, this is one of the few that works with everyone. People who like long strategy games, war games, party games, introductory games, and even no games at all still seem to enjoy this one. If you don’t own it, pick up a copy!

You can pick up a copy of Concept here.

2 thoughts on “Concept – Using Ideas to Guess Words”

  1. I just purchased Concept and attempted to play with some friends. I found the accompanying directions booklet almost worthless. It did not even explain what the various pieces were for. I will say your explanation of the game was more helpful than what came with the game. I’m a speech and language pathologist. Language is my business, and this game is made extremely difficult by a very vague booklet of directions. Are you aware of a more complete book of directions? I feel the game has potential, but would’ve been nice if someone who had some writing skills had published it.

    1. To be honest, I never read the rulebook! I learned from watching several YouTube videos of people playing (which is quickly becoming my standard method of learning games).

      I’m not aware of an alternative form of the rules, although this page for the game may have something like that: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/147151/concept

      As far as the gameplay itself, we don’t really follow the competitive aspects. We play with a single person trying to get everyone else at the table to guess whatever word of phrase they have. It’s a party favorite at this point when played this way.

      I think I can explain the pieces pretty quickly:

      – The question mark piece is used to pick the major category that your word or phrase is contained by (a quote, a movie, a book, a person, etc)

      – The exclamation points indicate major elements of the word or phrase contains (if your word is a country, a major element might be the nation’s flag. If your word is a movie, a major element may be a superhero)

      – The cubes match each question mark and exclamation point to provide more details (e.g. if your word is “France”, you’d have your question mark on a tile representing a location, and an exclamation point of any color on a tile representing a flag with cubes of the same color on blue, white, and red)

      We’ve found that hand gestures can reveal information, too. Specifically, the order you place pieces down. If you want people to guess something about the US, putting cubes down on red, white, and blue (in that order) is helpful. France would go in reverse.

      The rest of the pieces are used to keep track of points. Since I haven’t played that way, I don’t really know how scoring works to say how to use them.

      I hope some of this helps! Not only is this a great and entertaining game, it also gives you a glimpse into how other people form their thoughts. You start to see the connections people naturally make, and in our experience you’ll always be surprised.

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