My fourteen-year-old stepdaughter Carolyn introduced me to this game via an app for her mobile device. Don’t ask me if it was an iPhone, iPad, iTablet, iNook, or iCarly, because I couldn’t tell you. I’m getting too old for all that crap. All I know is that one night, my family was taking turns holding an electronic device up to their heads while everyone else shouted at them in strange accents. Being a gamer who enjoys a wide variety of genres helped me to determine that they weren’t all in need of a straight jacket. Rather, they were playing “Heads Up!”, a game featured on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. As I’m wont to do, I got curious and reached out to the developer for a press copy of the board game. Along those lines, I’d like to quickly thank Maria Aguilar from Spin Master Ltd. for providing me with one.
Cards – The game features two hundred cards across four categories: ACT IT OUT, SUPERSTARS, HEY MR. DJ, and DYNAMIC DUOS. The latter of the four is exclusive to the board game while the other three are popular categories from the app. Each card has two words.
Headbands – Six headbands are included, one for each player, and tie in with the cards during gameplay.
Chips – Chips are used to award points throughout the game.
Sand Timer – This assists players in timing the length of any one particular round.
Setup & Gameplay
Each player will begin by placing a headband around their head, with the logo facing forward. From there, players will take the four decks and shuffle them separately. The chips and sand timer are placed nearby while players decide on a starting player. The active person will be known as the “Guesser” while everyone else are “Clue Givers”. A category is chosen for the first round, which will end when everyone has had a chance to be the guesser for said category.
The guesser will draw six cards from the chosen deck, placing them inside their headband with the words facing the other players. It’s important that the guesser not see what is listed on these cards. Before the turn begins, the guesser will get to choose whether or not they want to utilize “NORMAL” or “CHALLENGE” rules. Normal rules get one point (chip) per correct answer while challenge rules get two points for a correct answer. When the guesser is ready, they’ll flip the sand time over. The other players will immediately start giving clues on the guesser’s first word based on the rules and category chosen. The “ACT IT OUT” category, for example, prevents the clue givers from talking (sounds are okay). The challenge rules negate the use of sound effects, however.
If the guesser gets a word correct, they’ll all move on to the next word on the same card (remember, each card has two words). Once both words have been guessed, players will move onto the next card. The guesser can pass if they wish to. The turn ends when the timer runs out or if they’ve answered/passed on all twelve words. The guesser earns points (chips) appropriately and the role of the guesser moves clockwise. Clue givers are prevented from using part of the actual word…if they do, they’ll force a “pass”. When all of the chips have been taken from the pile, players will count up their own personal stash. Whoever has the most, wins!
The above doesn’t cover all of the rules found in the manual, but should give you an idea as to how the game is played.
There’s no doubt in my mind that “Heads Up!” is an ideal party game. After all, it’s just a reversed form of the popular party game, “Charades”. Instead of one player trying to act out a word for others to guess, everyone else will be the ones trying to hash out the best clues possible. As a competitive game, this really doesn’t work. In order to score points, you’re forced to rely on the cleverness of the very people you’re playing against. If you happen to have a spoiled sport in your group, he or she may hold back good clues so that others don’t guess the word in question. As a casual party game where the points don’t matter, it’s quite fun.
The board game version is fairly colorful and I really didn’t take issue with the components. I did have a bit of a problem however the amount of categories that were in the box. In doing a bit of research, I discovered that you can download the app for both Android and iOS devices, though the pricing structures vary. Google Play (for Androids) shows that the app is free while the iOS store shows a ninety-nine cent download, with extra categories available for ninety-nine cents each. Regardless of which was you go, you’ll get more bang for your buck via any of the electronic options as the board game (which costs between fifteen and twenty dollars) only includes four categories. That translates to five bucks a category, not accounting for production costs.
I’ll be honest, part of me feels like this is a shameless cash-grab considering what you get inside the box at the suggested retail price. The electronic versions, while offering more content, have the added bonus of being portable and played anywhere. There are some like myself who tend to get intimidated with today’s technology, in which case the board game might provide an alternate solution. Since “Heads Up!” is first and foremost a party game, chances are someone in your group knows how to download and run the app…all you’d need to do is hold the thing to your head or shout out answers as appropriate. With all of that said, “Heads Up!” is a great idea, but the development of the board game makes little sense to me especially since it offers much less than its electronic counterparts. My advice is to steer clear of the tabletop version and stick with the app.
Final Verdict: 4/10