Review – Time’s Up! Family Edition
|"3-99", but best at 4, 6, or 8 players
Is there any better sign of a good party game than… a million different editions of said game? Yes, I’m sure there are. But either way, Time’s Up! is back yet again from R&R Games, this time with a very important twist: in lieu of names, we’re just describing nouns. Any old noun. Well, object. I don’t think “schadenfraude” or “hysteria” are in the list. Instead we have things like Wand, Gate, Soccer Ball, Crab, and… you get the idea. Is this better or worse than the classic game? Let’s take a look!
Theoretically, there’s no actual reason to buy any edition of Time’s Up!. It can be played with just pencils, paper and a bowl, and it’s often played as such locally. But there are still some good reasons to buy a “packaged” edition, and this is actually the best package this game has ever come in.
The main reason to get a package like this is simply to skip the step of writing down words or names on random (but uniform; no cheating!) scraps of paper. You also skip the part where people think way too long about what to write on said paper. Thisis way more important than it sounds; the packaged verison lets players immediately get to the fun. What sets this edition apart and makes it a “family edition” is that most of the words on the cards are objects, instead of people. I cannot stress enough how much better this is for playing with a broad audience.
When playing with, uh, certain people, using proper names works wonderfully. But I have a vivid memory of trying to play the original Time’s Up! in class and a college senior (English major) did not know who Karl Marx was. (This was in 2013, before the C.R.T. panic made him familiar again.) And certainly there are celebrities I don’t know, especially as I get older. (Total tangent: I took the test to join MENSA, and it’s mostly pattern recognition and your grasp on language, but one portion is entirely knowing why people throughout history are famous. I scored the worst on that portion.) With this new edition, it’s much, much easier to make sure everyone knows what’s being described, and the objects are still distinct enough that the game doesn’t become so easy that one team just runs through the deck too quickly.
So, okay, yes, mostly the game is just a deck of cards. But the production is actually about as good as it can get. There are a lot of cards, each with two words, an “orange deck” and a “blue deck” in a way (but this maybe is a double-edged sword, if you’re bad at keeping the cards oriented the same way). There’s also an included hourglass timer, and this seems silly, but the best thing is actually the box: exactly the right “party game” size, easily thrown into a backpack or a small spot on a self, with a magnetic lid (YES!). For $19.99, you’re directly competing with games like Codenames and Just One, which maybe include more components for a few bucks more, but oftentimes more components in a party game is bad. It’s usually assoicated with an increase in complexity (and certainly Codenames is much harder to understand than this). I’d rather have more content (word cards), and since the cards also count as your score, not much more is needed. I also have to give props to the rulebook: it was clearly written (even though I already knew how to play) and I found it easy to quickly skim for answers to rules questions when asked the inevitable “wait, what am I allowed to do this round? Can I do XYZ?”. It also includes several variants and rules for odd players.
It’s cheap, it’s compact, it’s well done. Is it fun? Yes! Time’s Up! is one of the best party games I’ve ever played. I would put it up there with The Resistance: Avalon, That Escalated Quickly and Codenames as the best of the best. Time’s Up! is by far the silliest of the bunch, and that’s what makes it fun. You can also ease people into the stupidity as the rounds get more about acting and less about talking. And of course, any kind of “open response” party game works for me far more than a “canned response” game like Apples to Apples or Cards Against Humanity because of the ability to take a joke and riff on it until you’ve run it into the ground. Time’s Up! is entirely built around this concept, since the same forty cards are used each round.
Now, no board game is truly for everyone, and you surely know some fuddy-duddies that would just roll their eyes and get frustrated while the timer runs down instead of trying to actually act something out. But unlike many other board games where you might unwittingly teach it to people who hate it and the whole experience is kind of ruined, you can tell just from reading the rules who not to play Time’s Up! with. But now that the Family edition makes the whole thing more accessible, this is a great recommendation for mom and dad to play with their kids (maybe 8 and up? Reading is obviously required). And in my experience, kids haven’t yet forgotten what it’s like to have silly fun, or somehow learned that they should be embarrassed for doing so. The game is also great for open, large game nights, or a lunch break in the middle of the day with ironically and sadly uninformed college seniors. I kid; I’m at a different school now, full of completely informed, hyper-intelligent, properly silly college seniors who love a good game of Time’s Up!. And I do too.
The Bottom Line
The best edition ever of one the best party games ever.