Designer: Shotaro Nakashima Publisher: Gamewright, Cocktail, Moonster
3-8 players 20 min. ages 10+ MSRP $15.00
Imagine is a party game where players use the language of symbols to communicate. Dozens of transparent cards with simple icons will cover the table. You will select and combine these cards, hoping someone in the group can solve your enigma using the clues you provide. The key ingredient is, of course, imagination!
Imagine comes with 65 double sided enigma cards. Each card has 8 different categories with typical party game tropes like people, places, objects, colors, phrases and so on.
There are also 35 tokens you’ll use to keep score.
Most important are the 61 transparent icon cards. Each card depicts a simple shape or icon in one of five colors.
Deal the transparent cards in a circle or spread them out on the table and you’re ready to play !
One player will be the clue-giver each round. This player will draw an enigma card and either choose a category or randomly determine a category for the round. Before starting, the clue-giver will announce the category.
When the round begins, the clue giver will select one or more transparent cards from the table and use them to try and get the other players to guess the word or phrase selected.
Up to this point, a game of Imagine might sounds like most every other party game you’ve played. The unexpected fun twist to the game is HOW you use these cards to give your clues and that is….
Because the cards are transparent you can overlap the icons and symbols to create more complicated images or clues. A line and a rectangle and a musical note might become a makeshift guitar.
The game wants you to see each card not only as the icon or symbol on the card BUT as building block, a part of a greater whole. It’s up to you and your imagination to see how you can combine and layer these basic parts to make more and more complex pictures.
Now this layering element on its own would be enough to give Imagine plenty of merit for consideration as a Major Fun game. But Imagine raises the bar even higher by allowing the clue giver to ANIMATE the cards to help the other players guess the right answer.
This means you can use the cards to create mini stories or scenes that don’t just illustrate the clue, the cards can demonstrate it!
You could use a pink spiral card and spin this card over a card depicting a person to demonstrate confusion. You could make the person card stagger and stumble. Suddenly you’ve gone from confusion to drunk. You could even use a makeshift bow launch an arrow. Here’s a video showing how you could animate some of the examples I mention above!
Put simply, being able to manipulate and move the cards to create clues gives Imagine an entirely different feel than almost any other party game of its ilk !
Imagine owes a debt to its predecessor Concept, a party game that is built around, well, the same concept. (Check out our review of Concept here)
Each game requires its players to use the language of symbols to communicate but each game accomplishes this in vastly different ways. In Concept, players use a massive game board filled with dozens of icons grouped by category. By placing cubes on various icons, players must try and connect the dots between the symbols to arrive at the right clue.
In Imagine, the clue giver connects the symbols and cards literally and can even animate the cards to show motion or interaction with others. The cards, the icons, the symbols are building blocks, instruments, tools to fuel the clue giver’s imagination.
The free form nature of this process gives any player a lot of freedom to explore the game. The limits of the game are not, in fact, the rules but rather your own creativity and imagination.
Concept should be applauded as an innovative achievement in party games, a genre where there have been precious few innovations in the past several decades. That said, the game is so different it can be a challenge to teach and learn.
Imagine is less encumbered with rules and allows players greater freedom to play and create on their own terms. This makes Imagine a go-to game for even the most casual game player. And once you have absorbed the basics of Imagine, it’s an easy step up to Concept if you love this style of game.
Play enough party games and there’s at least one basic idea you’ll come to understand : Party games are never really about who wins or loses. They are about the lasting memories that are born from the laughter and creative energy invested by players at the table.
Play one round of Imagine and you’ll see that the game is a wonderful fun-filled engine for these kinds of moments. And that makes it Major Fun !