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?
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?
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.
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.