Remember “Geography” – the game you probably played in the car or waiting at the restaurant with your family? You know the one. Someone says the name of a geographical location. Texas. Then the next player has to name another geographical location, starting with the last letter of the previous. Saskatchewan. Then the next: Nebraska. Et, basically, cetera. Remember how surprisingly long that game could last? And how genuinely challenging it could get? And how much fun it could be? Well, that should answer any questions you have about why Respond is so much fun. Because, basically, Respond begins where Geography leaves off.

First, there’s the deck of category cards. We’re not just talking Geography anymore. We’re talking Vegetables, and Boys Names, and Bugs; Colors and Flowers, and Musical Instruments. Which might remind you of that game Categories. Remember? “Gonna Get (clap, clap) names of (clap clap) Candy…” Except you play with the Geography rule. And the categories change every turn. So now you have to be prepared to switch from context to context while figuring out what word starts with the last letter of the word before. Baseball. Larry. Umm. What bug starts with a “Y”? Oh. Yellowjacket.

Speaking of yellow, there are also these yellow-bordered “Lightning” category cards. When you play one, anybody, regardless of whose turn it is, can go next, if they answer correctly. Which adds a remarkably deep strategic pinch, because if you’re not fast enough, you get skipped over. And if you are very fast, you can play a second card from your own hand before the timer runs out.

Speaking of which, there’s a 20-second electronic timer that quietly blinks at you until you there are only five seconds left. And sedately beeps at you until you run out of time. And then blares a most conclusive siren in your personal face. Hitting it resets it. Not answering before the timer goes off means you have to draw an additional card. Which is not good, seeing as the goal of the game is to be the first player to run out of cards.

Respond is deliciously challenging. It can be played by kids old enough to read. It can be played by almost any number of people. Being based on games that almost everyone knows makes it that much easier to learn.

Everything works elegantly. The cards keep the game exciting. There’s no need to keep score. It’s easy to learn. Quick to play. If you lose the rules, you can find them online. Even batteries are included.

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