In 2008, Parker Brothers & Hasbro re-released this excellent game of charades from 1990. Guesstures needs very little explanation beyond “charades with a timer” but that would just gloss the surface and would fail to capture some of the things that makes this version of charades Major Fun.
The timer is the most obvious device of the game so let’s start there. Shaped like a clapperboard that you associate with directors marking the beginning of a scene, the Guesstures timer is hand-wound and holds 4 cards along the top. The cards are words the player is trying to get his or her team to guess. The player starts a round of play by snapping the timer closed (“Guesstures, scene one, take two!”) This starts the timer. As the timer winds down, the cards drop out of sight. The player tries to get his or her teammates to guess the word before it drops out of reach. When the timer has run out (about 15 seconds) the team keeps any cards they guessed correctly.
The timing device is especially effective because not only does it mark the end of the round, it also dishes out the “punishment” for a player who takes too long. No one needs to watch the timer. If the card is there, you can try to grab it. If it’s not you gotta move on. Rounds are very fast which gives everyone time to play.
The cards are divided into 2 categories: easy and hard. This makes it easier to include younger players or the guessture-impaired. It also affects scoring: two points for every hard category, one point for every easy category. You must draw a total of 4 cards but they can come from one or both of the decks. Cards are double-sided so you have some choices once you draw your cards.
The game also comes with a Best Performance Trophy. Any player can earn the trophy if they get their team to correctly guess all four cards AND at least two of the cards are hard. The trophy will move around a lot. Whatever team has the trophy at the end of the game receives 2 extra points. It might not be worth many points but it is very satisfying to win it away from your opponents.
Guesstures is fast, colorful, and very easy to learn. There are no batteries and lots of laughs. True, creasing and folding and tucking the flattened trophy into something that would actually stand was a task beyond our collective abilities. Equally true, being asked to apply the decorative stickers to the timer was at least mildy annoying. I could easily leave off the stickers, but it seemed odd that Parker Brothers / Hasbro would not do this piece of finish for a game with otherwise high production values. If you are going to have me decorate your game for you, why not include a variety of stickers so I can customize the timer?
Oh well. The game is still Major Fun.
For 4+ players, ages 8+
Guesstures by Jeffrey Breslow and Howard Morrison. © 2008 by Hasbro.