Who doesn’t love Charades, the classic party game in which players take turns pantomiming for points? Time’s Up!, from R & R Games, is reminiscent of that populist fave, albeit with some interesting new tweaks. Players still divide into teams, and they still have to guess famous persons or fictional characters, with one teammate (the “Cluegiver”) providing hints. However, whereas Charades only allowed non-verbal communication, in Time’s Up!, the rules vary with each successive round. For round one, the Cluegiver can even say their hint so long as they don’t speak the actual answer, round two allows one-word verbal hints and only one guess from the team, etc. Rounds end when all the clue cards have been guessed correctly, and the same ones are used and re-used for the span of the entire game. This leads to an interesting dynamic, in which players get a general sense of which cards are in play—the deck should consist of 32 cards for the minimum of four players—which slightly offsets the rules becoming more restrictive as the game goes on.
That said, much like Charades, a lot of the fun comes from watching friends (or strangers) do goofy things. You probably don’t want to know how a Cluegiver who has never read or seen 101 Dalmations gets across the idea of Cruella de Vil (or maybe you do want to know, but I’m not about to tell you). Of course, if you are playing Time’s Up! with friends, there’s also fun to be had in leveraging in-jokes, and in marveling at the pure inexplicableness of your teammates’ guesses. During my recent demo game, for the Winnie the Pooh clue card, I crammed myself underneath an armchair as a way of pantomiming the character’s getting stuck in a tree. It struck me as odd that everyone’s first guess was Spartacus. Then we all made fun of each other, thereby segueing into another party game that never gets old.