Tabletop Highlight: Concept

I hope that you’re having a wonderful holiday season and that those of you who celebrate it are having a wonderful Christmas. My family does most of our celebrating on Christmas Eve, so I’m already home and bundled up in front of my computer, preparing myself for work tomorrow. I’m also starting my search for deals and bargains on a few post-Christmas presents to myself, and one thing has jumped to the top of the list for me as a result of this past weekend.

Part of my family’s Christmas ritual includes time for board games and this year, we played a wonderful game my sister brought called “Concept.” Concept is, as Wil Wheaton describes, “like pictionary for writers.” You can get a nice summary of the rules in the video I linked there, so I’m going to focus on a few of the higher concepts of the game. Unlike similar games, where it is a player’s job to communicate something to the other players, such as pictionary or charades, Concept limits your communication to only placing little plastic items on a board covered in icons. You aren’t allowed to communicate using pictures, gestures, or any of the other ways available in pictionary or charades, which means there is often less for the players to go on when they’re guessing. At the same time, the variety of items and icons means you can sometimes say more. Both of these things can be severely limiting.

If you put down too many items on too many icons, it becomes hard to tell what concept you’re trying to communicate and the people guessing can guess a wide variety of things that may not be related to what your concept is. If you have too little, its possible the players will get stuck and be unable to made the intuitive leap you’re trying to nudge them toward. Hard concepts, such as people or movies, are generally easier to communicate. Soft concepts, such as phrases, are much harder. That being said, that’s not always the case. My brother and I spent ten to fifteen minutes trying to guess what our sister had picked and she got so frustrated with our inability to guess that she accidentally let her concept slip when she was berating us.

To be fair, neither of us had seen that movie in a long time. To continue being fair, it shouldn’t have been that hard and I feel almost ashamed of how dense I was in retrospect. The intelligence of your players is the only real limitation on the game, so you should probably be careful when considering playing it with young children and adults who have been drinking. I’d like to say the alcohol clouded my wits, but I hadn’t drunk enough by then to use it as an excuse. Also, alcohol is really only limiting when you’re the person who is trying to convey the concept. Guessing just gets easier and more fun the more you drink.

You can play it with as many people as you like, so long as they can all fit around the board, and all the concepts are family friendly, so no need to worry about upsetting Grandma or Grandpa. I definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a new party game to try.



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