Cross Clues is a clever new word-based party game that adds a nice twist to the grid word games out there like Crossed Words and Codenames. In Cross Clues all players play at the same time, all looking for connections between the words simultaneously. This is a nice addition to this type of game.
For as much as Codenames is a brilliant game, there is no two way about it. There are occasions when you are just sat there waiting for an age for the other team to come up with a word. There's not much you can do. In Cross Clues, all players are always playing all the time, there is no downtime at all!
Flip the timer!
Party games are a lot of fun when with the right people and the right environment. But then in truth, if the right people are in the right mood, anything would make them laugh and have fun! So, for me, the trick to making a really good party game is one that works equally well for multiple personality types and in a varying degree of situations. One thing that often divides people for part games is time. Some players get bored waiting when turns take too long, such as the Codenames example above.
Whereas other players get stressed and frustrated when put under a reduced time pressure that doesn’t give them enough time to have fun and complete their turn in full. This is why I remove the timer entirely from many games!
In Cross Clues, as all players are playing at the same time, there is no need for this. You can spend as much time as you like thinking about the clue you want to give and just pause to try and figure out other peoples clues when they give them. No one is waiting specifically for you. You are all waiting for each other and as you wait, you are coming up with your own clues. But, there is a timer in the box if you want to play the optional timed rule, which limits a game to either five or ten minutes. This is useful if you yourself are time-restricted for how long you want to or can play for. But the game doesn’t need it to work.
How does it play!
In Cross Clues, you are looking to find words that describe two words, to lead the other players to guess a correct grid reference. You set up the board either in a 4x4 or 5x5 grid, simply dependant on the game length you want to play. You then slide one of the many answer cards under each number and letter.
Next, collate the grid references you need according to your grid size and give each player one (two in a two or three-player game) and leave the rest in a draw pile. That’s the setup done! Play can then begin with each participant looking for a word that matches the grid reference in their hand. When they have thought of one, they declare it to the room and the other players then debate on which two words they may be related too. When the group has reached a unanimous decision, they declare their answer.
If correct, the person who gave the clue puts the grid reference down on the board in the allocated spot, showing that grid reference has been successfully completed. Get it wrong and it is placed face down on the side of the board.
The player who gave the clue then draws another grid reference and the game continues. Play continues until either the timer runs out in a timed game or there are no clue cards left. As such, the game can be played over five minutes or an entire evening over a meal! It’s up to you.
A Perfect Score!
You can just play for the fun of course but the game does come with a scoreboard that shows you and your group how well you did. 25 is a perfect score in a 5x5 grid but you score “Awesome” for a 23 or more. So, there is some margin of error here!
Initially, it can appear quite difficult to find links between the words. Or to explain that more accurately, give clues for the two words you want that don’t lead people to guess another grid reference! Similar to Codenames, the danger is often in the ambiguous. It is not just about finding a clue that links to the two words. It's about the one that doesn’t link to any of the others. Once our group learnt this, we found the game did slow down a little. We took a little more care but our scores over subsequent games did start to improve!
But as our understanding of the game and each other grew, we were slowly able to build up the pace a little again.
It is a funny thing with word games where people can often be turned off by not instantly coming up with amazing clues. It’s not like if you played Robinson Crusoe for the first time you would smash through the scenarios unscathed! You need to learn the game and understand the strategy before you start making excellent decisions and taking brilliant turns. Word games are the same. Try and enter this word game with the same mentality you would a crunchy euro.
Saying that it can be tricky, and sometimes you can struggle to get a clue right for a certain combination. But you can always just wait for other grid references to be removed to eliminate other options if this is the case. As all players are playing at once, the game does move quickly. One variation is for a five mutes game remember. So, you won’t ever be stuck in this position for ever. Linking “Fire” and “Man” when “Truck” and “Hero” are also out on the board can be hard, but once those other words are gone it becomes a lot easier.
Happy Cross Clues!
I have really enjoyed playing this game. It works brilliantly over a video call. You only need one setup of the game to play and I found it to be a very smooth process. Simply show the person on the end of the call their grid reference. Have a camera on the tiles and words. Simple. It also works well with children and families. I spend a little time picking age-appropriate words in set-up. Rather than randomly drawing them, simply so everyone understands all the words. But otherwise, it is the same game and works very well.
There is a great sense of cooperation in this game. Many word-based party games are co-op but in a team vs. team set up. Here you are all together. One big team all working towards one common goal. I find that in these current turbulent times, that is a nice feeling to have!