Groovy, Daddio! Everyone can be a far-out poet even if they don't know it, ya dig?
Poetry Slam is the party game all about writing short poems so that you can score big. Come up with some cosmic lines, and you'll find everyone snapping their fingers to the rhymes. Not only that — you gotta be fast coming up with rhymes since everyone is playing at the same time. If someone else finishes before you, they may end up getting a higher score, too. So come on, grab a pen, and start slammin'!
Designer: Adam Wyse
Artist: Shane Houston
Publisher: Mayday Games
Category: Word Game / Party Game
Price: $35.00 Amazon.com
Poetry Slam is a party/word game with a unique theme. Building on the classic trope of “everyone think of a word that fits X criteria,” it goes beyond the genre’s usual style to offer a family-friendly experience that challenges players’ creativity.
Beatniks unite! It’s time for some hipster poetry.
In Mayday Games’ new release, Poetry Slam, three to ten players are underground, open-mic poets tossing around fresh rhymes. Each player has a personal tableau consisting of a score sheet, screen, and letter board. In the middle of the play area are two decks of cards—one showing letters, the other showing word prompts (a sampling of the latter is shown below).
The game comes with a variety of tokens and markers, including point tokens in values of one to five. A number of these point tokens are placed in the middle with their values showing. When everything is set up, the play area will look like this:
Each round, the word prompt and letter cards dictate a challenge (“Last letter is ‘H,'” in the example above). Simultaneously, everyone writes down a word that fits this criteria (such as “ranch” or “dough”). In general, players want to make longer words, since they get points for length. Thus, an overachieving player might make the word “stagecoach.”
As soon as a player has formulated and written down her word, she can grab any available point token from the middle. This may seem like an obvious choice—she should take the most valuable one—but the greater a token’s value, the greater its tradeoff. Let me explain:
Suppose our overachieving player has just made the word “avalanche” in the second round. When she finishes writing it down, she grabs the four-point token and notes this score in the appropriate space on her sheet.
The back of each token shows a letter that its owner loses going forward. To continue the above example, the four-point token causes the player to lose the letter “R,” meaning none of her future words may contain this letter. (We can assume she lost “P” in the first round.)
Put another way, high-value tokens are great for points, but the more of them a player takes, the tougher the letter restrictions will be in later rounds.
When all players have written their words and claimed their tokens, the second phase of the round begins. Each player now has to recite a rhyming couplet to get the other players to guess the word. For the word “avalanche,” the player might say,
“Snow is great for boarding and skiing, but if it starts rumbling, you’d better start fleeing.”
Other players then get one chance each to guess the word.
For the sake of brevity, I won’t go too deep into the scoring, but I’ll mention several ways points can be accumulated. In addition to claiming point tokens as discussed above, players can earn points from:
- Guessing another player’s word
- Someone else guessing their word
- The length of their word
- Receiving a “Snap” token from another player who liked their couplet
At the end of the last round, the player with the most points wins.
Poetry Slam will feel familiar to fans of word games, but it asks players to be creative in a way that not many other games do. Most word games are simply:
- “Come up with a word that fits X criteria” or
- “Get others to guess a secret word.”
This game does a good job combining and expanding upon these two standards. It’s a pretty friendly affair, the kind of game that is more about the experience than the outcome. The “gamer”-y mechanism of deciding which point token to take is a cool touch, too.
The game’s production is nice, with sturdy components, stylized art, and a compact box that fits everything snugly. The theme of slam poetry works well; it’s one I haven’t seen before.
In general, word games aren’t my thing, but I think Poetry Slam would be a good fit for folks who like lexical challenges. Its gameplay is elevated compared to classics like Taboo or CatchPhrase, and it requires more creativity than Smart Mouth or Codenames. This game is very freeform; it could be a great vehicle to encourage artistic expression in kids.
If this sounds like something your family or game group would enjoy, I recommend checking it out!
A review copy was provided by Mayday Games.
+ Builds on classic, tired word game mechanics, adding modern game elements to them
+ Great production quality and components
+ Interesting creativity challenges
- Scoring system can be a bit cumbersome
- Would have been nice if score sheets were double-sided