Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Word Slam

Word Slam

Spring 2017 Games
Ages: 12 & Up
Manufacturer: Thames & Kosmos
Price: $39.95

Word Slam is a fast paced card game in which each team's storyteller is given an "answer" for which he must give his team clues to correctly guess the answer. Think charades, but without acting. Or talking. Words cards are the only way to communicate the clues.

Okay, let's try a round: Movie. Under. Water. Animal. Run. Music. Dead.

Whether or not you got the answer, you at least got the gist of the new word-guessing game Word Slam. It's sort of a board-game cousin of Password. Except that in Password, one player spews out a stream of word clues off the top of his head and teammates try to guess the secret word. In Word Slam, one player ("the storyteller") selects word clues only from his team's 105 "Story Word Cards" that, when considered together, are supposed to suggest what the secret word is. But you'll find the options somewhat limiting. And that's the edge of the game. It isn't easy.

At the start, even if you thoroughly read the instructions, the game seems a bit convoluted. In part, that's because there are a lot of pieces divided between two teams and three players or more: 200 Answer Cards with a total of 1,200 names, places, titles from pop culture, books, movies, brand names and terms to guess; 210 Story Word Cards (noun, verb, adjective, or preposition) that each team's storyteller selects from to provide clues to the secret word; four card holders; one die; one hour glass; and, fortunately, one detailed "must read" rule book. And, there are four difficulty levels of Answer Cards so the game can be tailored to different levels of players.

Each team's storyteller starts with the same Answer Card and same secret word on it - decided by the roll of the die. Simultaneously drawing from their decks of Story Word Cards, the storytellers hurry to present their team with up to 10 relevant clues. At any point in the round, either storyteller can induce the hour glass, which immediately limits the time and pressures each team to guess the secret word quickly.

Storytellers cannot speak or act out the secret word; this is not charades. Storytellers must be resourceful and creative in selecting sets of words that tip off their teammates. The team that gets the answer first wins a point; the team with the most points at the end of a predetermined number of rounds wins the game.

Word Slam challenges players to think creatively and think fast-both a good thing. Word game fans will love this game once they get the hang of it. Why? Fun. Fast. Furious. Creative. Smart. And, yes, educational.

The answer from the above clues: Jaws. You got it, right?

Don Oldenburg   ©2017 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

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Thames & Kosmos

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