In an earlier blog, we covered word games that involve spelling and word formation. At their basic, they are also great games for children and can be adapted according to their ability. Games types can be placed on a spectrum with these spelling and word creation games at one end. Pure abstract games with no language component at all would be at the other end. Sitting on this continuum, the next category to consider would be games that require a knowledge of language and meaning to be played. Many of these games will be suitable for team playing or best with a large group, perhaps in a party setting. These games often require players to be on the same wavelength as other members of their team. Word games for psychics, you might say.
This feature showcases some of these games, explaining how they are all needing slightly more advanced language skills. While the concepts and gameplay are simple, an inherent understanding of English is essential. This means they will be best played with older children and adults.
Are We In Synk?
The first of our word games for psychics takes spelling and word meaning to a new level. Synk is a fun game released in April 2021 and is suitable for any number of players [at least three minimum]. This has become a firm favourite to play after a meal as a family. The game is simply a box containing a huge number of cards, with words and their definitions. Most of these words are known, but not well known. The active player selects a card and states the initial letter of its word. All of the other players need to think of a word beginning with that letter, and also a definition of their chosen word.
This second player gives the definition and all other players need to consider what word might fit. If another player thinks they know the answer then they are “In Sync”. Simultaneously the guesser and the second player state what word they are considering. If they both have the same word and are “In Sync” then they are given the second letter of the word on the card. However, if the active player shouts out the chosen word at the same time then any guess is null and void.
The key to Synk is to try to come up with words and definitions that you know that another player will understand, but be obscure to the active player.
As a reward for being “In Sync,” the next letter of the word on the card is revealed. Players now need to think of a word and definition beginning with these two letters. The game continues with letters being revealed as players are In Sync. Once the word on the card is identified or given then the player who selected that word scores a point and becomes the new active player.
Codenames and Codenames Duet rely on players to be on the same wavelength and select words, printed on cards with a simple definition. A perfect word game for psychics. The standard codenames game is a two-team approach that can easily be enjoyed by a dozen players at a time. Last month, whilst on holiday with the family, we had a boy’s and girl’s team. Laid out in front of everyone is a 5 by 5 grid of simple words. These represent the code names of your secret agents. It is the job of the team leaders to identify their spies by their code names yet avoid revealing anything to the opposition. Each team has seven [or eight] code names to find. Hidden in the grid is one assassin. If their name is selected then it is game over for that team. The remainder of the cards represents simple bystanders.
Two callers, one from each team, are shown the distribution of their agents, assassin and the general public. They are permitted to give a single word clue that describes, and hopefully links, a couple of code names. For example, three of the code names to be linked might be; Christmas, Plain and Oak. The caller might think of a word “tree” and say “tree, three”. In other words, there are three agents whose names are associated with a tree. It is now up to their team to look at the 25 words and perhaps be on the same wavelength. Oak and Christmas link easily with tree. But who might get to the connexion with plain/ plane?
Codenames leads to many random connections and quite bizarre associations. It helps if there are some shared memories etc and these can help some tenuous links. To do well in Codenames you need to think of word links that make sense for others in your team. The Duet version is a two-player cooperative game that has a campaign element to it. Words are picked in a similar fashion where the other player must guess sufficient code names within a given number of rounds.
It is easy to see why these two games are so popular and feature highly on the board game geek Hall of Fame.
If Codenames is all about specific words, these two games are about describing a word but avoiding well known terms and phrases. Both games are team games where an element of lateral thought and being in sync will help. In Taboo one player will be given a card with a single word, but a list of five “taboo” words are listed too. These must be avoided. Within a given time, that player must describe that word and then go onto get through as many cards as possible, without using any taboo words. The other team members must guess that word and in doing so win that card. The team that wins the most cards over a number of rounds is the winner.
In Trapwords the opposing team knows the word to be described but has one minute to choose five “trap” words. These are the words to be avoided. However, these words are not revealed. This is akin to walking down a path with lots of puddles. Inevitably you will step in some puddles, but you need to predict which are the very deep ones that will get your feet wet. The pressure of time and the frustration of trying to get a word or phrase explained, yet avoiding the obvious words makes these two word games for psychics great fun for the family.
I first stumbled across Linkee during Lockdown One. The Big Potato games quiz, online on a Tuesday evening, gave a chance to enjoy some of their back catalogue. The tagline for this game is “four little questions, one big link”. The questions are simple and usually single word answers. The task is to ascertain the phrase or reason that these four words share a link. This is like Codenames in reverse. The answer is given, but what is the question?
A typical Linkee set of questions might be:
1. Red activist buried in Highgate cemetery
2. A badger’s home
3. A small firearm that can fit in the pocket
4. A type of parasitic worm found in the gut that causes anaemia
The answers would be; Marx, sett, pistol, tape.
So what is the link?
Any team or player that correctly guesses the link wins that card. Each card has letters printed on their reverse and the winner is the player or team with sufficient cards to spell Linkee.
This is a clever game of words and meanings. The basic game of Balderdash is a board game version of an old TV programme, “Call my Bluff”. One player is given an obscure word and its definition. The word is read aloud and all players need to make up their own meeting for this word. The starting player reads aloud all of the definitions, the true one along with the created ones. Players must try to guess the correct answer. However, if your definition is sufficiently convincing, and players select yours, then more points can be earned.
Absolute Balderdash takes this to the next level. Not only are there words, but also obscure acronyms, American laws and bylaws, movie synopsis and even “famous individuals”.
These new games require the players to have plausible answers and construct their definitions to give a grain of truth and integrity. For this reason, this bluffing and clever wordplay is better with older teenagers and adults.
Whilst none of these games will necessarily set the world alight in board game circles, they tap into a different element of board gaming fun. You do not need to be a literary genius to enjoy them. They can be played after a meal around a table and take a few moments to set up. Most games could almost be considered as filler games, taking less than 30 minutes. There is a timelessness about them. A couple of the games listed above we have been playing for over 30 years as a family.
For longevity and value for money, these are great games that have aged well. They should be considered good games to have on the shelf. They may not be games that you play each week, but for family occasions, perhaps at Christmas when older, non-gaming relatives visit, they are great word games for psychics that anyone can enjoy; they'll certainly help break the ice too.