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You’ve Been Sentenced!

August 27th, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

Every now and then I come across games that are a joy to play, usually they end up being the ones where playing the role of referee isn’t required.  What’s more, I enjoy games with an educational theme, mainly because I believe in teaching the kids all that I can in order to prepare them for life as an adult.

You've Been Sentenced

You’ve Been Sentenced: 3-10 Players, Ages 8+, Average Play Time = 30-45 Minutes

You’ve Been Sentenced certainly falls under that category.  In this game, players will be forming sentences with the cards that they have been given.  The more words they use, the more points they earn…though the sentence has to be grammatically correct and make sense.  Let’s take a quick look at the game and how it is played before we head into the review.


Cards – The cards are shaped like a pentagon, with five words arranged along the perimeter with their individual point values listed below.

Score Sheet & Pencil – Players will be keeping track of their score with these during the game.

Sand Timer – Used when one person comes up with a sentence, giving others a short amount of time to finish coming up with their own.  More on that in a minute.

You've Been Sentenced Cards


Setup & Gameplay

The box of cards is placed in the middle of the table so that all players can reach it.  Each player receives ten cards and places them face down in front of them.  Once everyone has their cards, they are flipped face up and all players begin trying to form a sentence using the words on their cards (players don’t have to use all ten cards).  When a player feels that they have a sentence, they announce that they do and flip the sand timer.  Other players have until the end of the time limit to come up with their own sentence.  Players who don’t score nothing for that round.

Once time runs out, the player who started the timer reads their sentence aloud and is judged by everyone else on whether or not the sentence is valid.  Those who object can explain why the sentence isn’t valid, though the person who created the sentence will be allowed to make a case to defend it.  If the majority feels that the sentence is still not valid, then that player receives no points.  If the sentence does pass the majority vote, the player receives the points as indicated on the cards (each word has a point value).  All players, in turn, are judged by the other players the same way and receive scores accordingly.  Bonus points are awarded to the player who initiated the sand timer (if the sentence is correct) and to any player who uses all ten cards.

You've Been Sentenced Gameplay

Coming up with weird sentences is probably three-fourths of the fun.

The first person to reach 200 points wins the game!

The above is just an overview of the game.  To see the rules in closer detail, you can check out the manual here:

You’ve Been Sentenced! Manual

The Review

First, let me get my complaints out of the way.  The pencil doesn’t fit in its place in the box, at least, not without its tip rubbing up against the cards.  I removed the pencil from the box to prevent it from marking up the cards.  Next, the scoresheet could have been a little simpler.  Drawing lines on the track after adding the current round’s score with the previous round’s score just seems a little messy to me.  A name, some blank spaces beneath that name to mark scores, and boom…done.  It could be just me, but I find the old, “write your score under your column” approach to be the simplest way to go about doing it.

Okay, enough of that.  There are over five hundred cards, so the sheer amount of combinations one can be presented with is pretty unbelievable.  The odds are extremely good that you won’t ever be dealt the same ten cards in your lifetime.  There are also a lot of variants listed in the manual to give players other ideas on how to play.  Personally, I put the score sheet aside and just enjoyed the experience of putting sentences together with the kids.  No sand timer, no rushing, no beating someone else…just good, educational fun.  Haters gonna hate, but it works for us.  Games are serious business, don’t you know?  I mean c’mon!  Quit having fun!  We’re trying to play a game here!  *Huge Over-Exaggerated Sigh*

You've Been Sentenced Review

Thumbs up for grammar!

This game is an excellent example of how learning should be.  The boys had a lot of fun putting sentences together and I equally enjoyed helping them fine tune their sentence structure.  They came up with some extremely silly sentences, but little did they know that they were practicing their English at the same time.  You’ve Been Sentenced is definitely a great game for families and I highly recommend it, especially for its educational value.

Final Verdict: 8/10

Recommended Links:

You’ve Been Sentenced!: Add-On Decks

You’ve Been Sentenced!: Country Music Edition



  1. August 27th, 2012 at 08:08 | #1

    Thank you very much for such a great review. I had to laugh about the score sheet because I never liked it either and it has been changed for the production run that is being printed right now.

    I would like to send you some Add-on-Decks if you would like.


    Donald W. McNeill, CEO, Inventor of You’ve been Sentenced!
    McNeill Designs for Brighter Minds, Inc.

    • Vincent
      August 27th, 2012 at 08:12 | #2

      Thank you for reaching out to me Donald! I’d be happy to receive some of the Add-on-Decks and give them some quick coverage in the process. I’ll send you a separate email with mailing details.

  2. Robbin
    April 28th, 2016 at 02:30 | #3

    I have LOVED playing this game with my students since 2007!! I actually met you Donald at a conference I attended in San Antonio years and years ago when things were first getting started. I have a few of the add on cards already but noticed that there might be more out there. Just cannot seem to find them!!

    Any suggestions on where to look would be greatly appreciated!!

    • Vincent
      April 29th, 2016 at 08:38 | #4

      Hi Robbin,

      There’s a few add-on packs listed under Amazon’s “Customers who bought this also bought” slideshow at the following link:


      Hope this helps!