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Category Tags , SKU ZBG-FMGNG0921 Availability 3+ in stock
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Value For Money


  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • Fun, fast and possibly filthy
  • Easy to pick up and play, hard to put down
  • Nice little deck box to take everywhere

Might Not Like

  • … thinking of words that begin and/or end with U and A
  • Would have been fine in the small box
  • It’s a party game, so if your thing is games about the Peasant’s Revolt… you probably haven’t read this anyway
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Noggin. The game that will make your brain work and work - in a good way.

Players take turn to deal out their cards, the cards are a combination of letter cards and action cards. The cards are dealt out equally into three piles. If an action card appear, the other two piles will have letter cards shown on top. The action card will tell you how and in what way you use the top letters to create an answer. You need to be as quick as you can in order for you to win the game!

For example, you may pick up a "Name Initial" action card, and be given the letters A and G. In this case, the answer you could give is "Ariana Grande". However, you may pick up a "Describe" action card. Your answer in this case would then be "Amazing Giraffe". The first person to give a credible answer (decided by opponents), gets to keep the action card! Whoever has the most ation cards at the end is then deemed the winner!

Players: 3+

Time: 10 min+

Age: 10+

In my quest for gaming fun with various different groups of people, I have used my Noggin (see what I did there) and come to a startling discovery. Okay, maybe not startling, but a discovery: there is a huge cross-over between family games and games to be played whilst drinking ‘responsibly’. 

Now if we were to Venn diagram the whole thing we’d see that there are definitely games that do not belong in the intersection – Cards Against Humanity and Porno Charades should NOT be allowed in the intersection (and I’ve warned you about that) but a lot of family games could be allowed in. Super Rhino Hero Battle is hella fun for 6 to 8 year olds but also hilarious for ‘lubricated’ 20/30/40 somethings; Codenames is fun for all the family, but even more fun for those with no sense of propriety. You get the idea, and that’s before I even mention Big Potato Games. 

Big Potato Games have been the big boys when it comes to family/party type games up until now, and for good reason. Their games are bright and colourful, simple to grasp and a hoot to play. But hold up, you massive spud – there’s a new challenger in town and they’re down to clown… 

Have You Heard About The Word

Noggin is a fast-paced, fun and frustrating word game from new game designers Format Games. Format Games is the brain child of Laurence Emmett and Matt Edmonson (he of Radio 1, for all you hip young things), born of lockdown frustration and a ‘what the heck’ attitude. They have three games out so far, all having a family/party flavour to them. The most recent is Noggin. See opening line of this paragraph. 

After you have rescued yourself from the dialectical loop that I may have accidentally set up (sorry), a bit more about Noggin. It can be played by 2 to goodness knows how many players and is all about using letters to make words according to various conditions. The player who makes the most words by the end of the game wins. 

Each player begins with a pile of cards dealt in front of them. Players then take it in turns to play a card from their pile to one of three piles in the centre of the table. Each card played will have either a letter or an ‘action’ on them. Whilst there are only letters on the table, everything proceeds as normal. When an action appears on the table, covering up one of the three letters, players then try to be the first to complete the action using the two letters visible on the table. 

Everybody Knows That The Word Is A Bird

Though the majority of the cards in the game will be letters, Noggin is all about the actions. They are: 

  • Bookend: use the two visible letters, in any order, to start and finish a word. For instance, with F and G, you might say ‘filling’ (or ‘Gandalf’ if you are accepting proper nouns – it’s your game, after all)
  • Middle Letters: say a word that has the two visible letters in the middle – note, they don’t have to be together OR exactly in the middle. So, F and G might be used for ‘nightfall’
  • Initials: use the letters as the initials of the name of someone known to the group, fictional or someone famous, for example George Foreman (I don’t think you could get away with Grandad Frank, but hey, worth a try)
  • Word Association: say two words that are associated by some kind of tenuous link (like Gold and Frankincense – they’re linked, okay?)
  • Word Disassociation: say two words that are not associated by any kind of tenuous link (like Grenade and Furby, though someone is bound to say that they are the same thing…)
  • Describe: the card with the Hairy Gorilla! You don’t have to say ‘hairy gorilla’, just an adjective and noun using those letters – Frilly Garters might raise a few eyebrows but would be correct.
  • Neither Letter: my favourite one, because you have to say a word that contains neither letter and my stock response is always ‘cow’. Cow. 

The game ends when all the cards are dealt and the winner is the player who has gained the most action cards. But there are two other rules to bear in mind too that can stir things up a bit. 

Firstly, you can’t use a word more than once for an answer. If you do, the action you would have won goes into the pot and will be won by the next person who gives a correct response to an action card. 

Second, when laying out the cards you might, just might, see a three-letter word appear in a clockwise direction. If you are the first person to shout out the word, you get to steal one of someone else’s action cards. Sneaky? Very. 

Words… Don’t Come Easy… To Me

To quote Dragon’s Tomb, Noggin is a blast to play. The cards are colourful yet functional, the play is fast and accessible and the turn over between games is very quick, as is the play time. And the chances are you will want to play this more than once in a session as, whether you are responsibly drinking or hanging out with the family or both, each new game will throw up even more ridiculous and/or questionable responses. Case in point: in the last game I played, I managed to win an action card with the response ‘Saucy Nans’ – please don’t ask me where that came from.  

There may come times in the game where you end up getting stuck (let me tell you, there are not many famous, known or fictional names with the initials U and G – Uncle George does not count), but you can move the action card around (let me tell you, there are not many famous, known or fictional names with the initials U and A – Uncle Andrew also does not count). In short, this is not completely insurmountable as this is not the most serious of games (okay, Uncle Andrew does count as I met him at your wedding). 

As well as being a definite hit for gamers and non-gamers alike, a certain amount of appreciated thought has gone in to the design as well. It does come in a double-cassette size box (ask your dad/grandad/great grandad) for the cards and instructions, but the cards themselves come in a a handy card deck size box with the words ‘TAKE ME WITH YOU’ printed on the the bigger box underneath it – a nice touch. But the important thing is that this is a game that will be played and will be played a lot – the last people I played with had bought a copy before the end of our third game.  

So use your Noggin and get Noggin-in. Quickly. 

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

Zatu Score


  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • Fun, fast and possibly filthy
  • Easy to pick up and play, hard to put down
  • Nice little deck box to take everywhere

Might not like

  • thinking of words that begin and/or end with U and A
  • Would have been fine in the small box
  • Its a party game, so if your thing is games about the Peasants Revolt you probably havent read this anyway