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How To Play Noggin

Noggin is a quick card game which can be played with 2-20 players. It's a great family, drinking, and travel game. It will test your vocabulary and quick-thinking skills.

Shuffling The Deck

Setup is super easy. Firstly, shuffle the deck of cards thoroughly to distribute the action cards throughout the deck.

Once shuffled, the dealer places three letter cards face-up on the table in separate piles. If you pull out an action card, shuffle it back into the deck.

After this, deal the rest of the cards out evenly to players. Once all cards have been dealt, players pick up their decks keeping the cards face down. No one is allowed to see what cards they’ve got.

You’re now ready to play Noggin!

How To Play

Once set up, players can choose who they want to go first. Pick the youngest, oldest, or even the person who knows the longest word. Sometimes choosing who goes first is fun in itself!

Players take it in turn to draw a card from the top of their pile and place it onto one of the three piles of cards, on the table. This is done clockwise. As cards are dealt the letters on the table will constantly change. Players continue to put cards down until an action card is drawn.

When an action card is placed, it will leave two letters visible. For example, P and K. All action cards require players to shout out an answer which uses those two letters (see ‘Action Cards’ below). The first person to shoutout a correct answer wins the action card.

If the two letters on the table are troublesome, like Q and Z, players can agree to move the action card clockwise to reveal a new letter. If no answers can be found, after the card has been moved, it is placed into the middle of the table. The next player to win an action card will win this one also.

When all the cards have been played, the game ends. The person with the most action cards at the end of the game is hailed victorious! It's as simple as that.

Noggin Action Cards

There are seven types of action card that players will encounter during the game. These action cards determine what answers need to be given using the two letters on display. Each action card is easy to remember as the name sums up the description.

Here is a list of the action cards, with an example using P and K as the two letter cards displayed:

Bookend: Players must shout out a word which starts and ends with the two letters shown: easily remembered as the letters must bookend the word.

Example: You could shoutout ‘keep’ or ‘peek’.

Middle Letters: Players must call out a word that has both letters in the middle of it. They don’t have to be next to each other, they just can’t start or end the word.

Example: You may shoutout ‘skips’ or ‘speaker’.

Neither Letter: When this card comes up, don’t say a word that has either letter in it.

Example: You could shout out ‘dog’, ‘car’ or ‘hesitant’. (Incorrect answers would be ‘poke’, ‘space’ or ‘port’ as they all contain the letters)

Initials: For this card you must shoutout a celebrity whose initials are the same as the letters shown. You can shoutout authors, politicians, historic figures etc. Anyone who has basked in the limelight. This one can be difficult for younger players as they don’t know as many famous people.

Examples: ‘Katy Perry’ or ‘Peter Kay’.

Word Association: Players must call out two words, one starting with each letter, that have an obvious association.

Examples: ‘knight’ and ‘paladin’ or ‘paw’ and ‘kitten’

Word Disassociation: You may have guessed what this one means. You must shoutout two words that are not associated with one another.

Example: ‘kitchen’ and ‘parrot’ (An incorrect answer would be ‘kick’ and ‘punch as they are associated; both are fighting actions)

Describe: This could be my favourite card as its guaranteed someone will say something funny. Players must use one adjective and one noun starting with each of the letters to describe something.

Example: ‘prickly kumquats’ or ‘killer penguin’.

Noggin Additional Rules

For veteran Noggins more rules can be added to increase the difficulty. These rules lengthen gameplay, as players can lose cards. It's also more punishing, as incorrect or repeated answers could cost you the game. These rules can be played alone or combined for the ultimate Noggin experience.

No repeated answers: In this version, players cannot repeat something they have previously said. If they do, they must give up one of their action cards and place it in the middle. The next player to win an action card will get this one as a bonus.

Incorrect Answers: Like the above rule, players must give up one of their action cards if they shoutout an incorrect answer. This card will be held ransom in the middle and the next player to give a correct answer can take it.

Three Letter Words: If at any point the three letters in the middle spell out a word, in a clockwise direction, players can call out this word. If the word is correct, you may steal an action card from another player.

My Noggin Rules: These are rules I came up with which you may want to try. Once you have the core rules down, you can come up with any other rules to make this game harder and more interesting:

  • No three letter words: players aren’t allowed to use three letter words when answering.
  • Animal descriptions: players can only describe animals when the describe card is revealed.
  • Initials: players must think of a movie title instead of a celebrity.

And that’s how you play Noggin! It really is limitless fun, especially as you can theme your games or ban three letter words. You can place any restriction you want on the wordplay to mix it up every time. So, give it a try! Just don’t play too much, as it may melt your brain.