Base price: $25.
3+ players. You can use additional sets to add more players without much trouble.
Play time: 20+ minutes. No real time constraint, either.
BGG | Board Game Atlas
Buy on Amazon (via What’s Eric Playing?)
Logged plays: 10
I’ve been on a kick of reviewing games I actually paid for, lately (what a novel concept) (also I just haven’t been able to play that many review copies lately; been a busy January), so, naturally, I figured it’s the right time to expand on my mini-review I did for Bebo over at Be Bold Games (you’ll probably see occasional content from me there in the future; the reviews here are highly structured, which sometimes makes certain games difficult to write about). Anyways, let’s get straight to it.
I’m not a big party game person; as I routinely say when someone asks me about a party game, what kind of person has more than three friends? Let’s see if this one can change my mind, though. Just One is a cooperative party game of word-guessing and clue giving, with the always-present limit: just. one. Players team up to try to help one player guess a word using whatever they can think of. Will your team be able to get a winning score? Or will you be just one point short?
Not much setup; shuffle up the cards:
Set out 13, face-down, if you want to play by the standard rules. Give each player a markerboard placard thing:
Also give them markers:
You’re ready to start!
In Just One, players cooperatively attempt to get the guessing player to guess the correct word on the card by giving them clues, cooperatively. However, any of the clues match between players, the players must erase them. Guesses can result in positive or negative points, and at the end players tally their scores to see if they won!
So, to that end, have the guessing player write a number between 1 and 5 on their placard. If you don’t have cards, you could also just use a random card from Codenames, if you want, or a variety of other things.
All players must then secretly write just one word as a clue on their placard. This can be anything, provided it doesn’t break any rules:
- No translations. Can’t use “hombre” to clue “person”.
- No same word families. Can’t use “Princess” to clue “Prince”.
- No homophones. Can’t use “Hare” to clue “Hair”.
- Also, just, you know, don’t be like that. You can’t clue “Cowch” for “Couch”.
Once everyone’s written down a word, the guesser closes their eyes and the cluing players compare. If any words match, they must both be erased. Matching words, for reference, are:
- Same word. As you might guess, “hat” and “hat” match.
- Same word family. “Prince”, “Princely”, “Princess”, and “Princes” all match.
- Invalid clues. You can’t give them, but if you managed to, erase it.
Once all the clues that need to be erased have been erased, the Guesser opens their eyes. They can either Guess or Pass:
- Correct Guess: +1 point
- Incorrect Guess: 0 points, and remove a card from the remaining deck from play. (Effectively -1 point.)
- Pass: 0 points.
Play until you feel like stopping, or 13 rounds, if you want to play via the standard rules. Once you’ve done that, you can score: 7 points or better is considered a win!
Player Count Differences
None, really; you’re just as likely to collide with another player at 4 as you are at 14; it’s just more impressive if you manage to achieve no collisions at higher player counts. I mean, above 10, it’s astounding.
I will say at three players, however, each of the two cluing players gives two clues rather than one. Obviously, try not to match with yourself.
No preference on player count, though I think it’s likely funniest at higher player counts, personally.
- Someone’s gotta go for the obvious clue. Feel it out over a few rounds; if nobody seems to be doing it, it might be your time to shine.
- Highfalutin synonyms are encouraged. If the word is lawyer, prosecutor, barrister, attorney; all great choices. Just make sure you’re not going to collide with other players.
- Nothing in the rules says you can’t use punctuation. I’ve gotten away with it. Also, this game begs to be house-ruled. Have a great time.
- Write a lot of first names. Usually people go for last names since they’re more distinct. If the word is Hulk, write Bruce! You might get someone else who wrote Banner and then you’ve got an incredible combo. That’s honestly the most satisfying part of the game. Just beware of other people who do the same thing.
- It’s a party game; just have fun. Seriously, trying to win and metagaming is going to suck some of the fun out of it. Make weird mistakes and aggressive house rules and just play to have fun.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- Hilarious. Seriously, you develop a lot of inside jokes. It makes subsequent rounds really entertaining.
- I appreciate that this game requires players to be creative. I dislike games where players use fixed clues, as it doesn’t give them an opportunity to be creative or funny on their own. Here, a lot of unintentional humor happens, especially if players misread cards (which happens once per game, minimum) or clue for the wrong number.
- Supports drop-in / drop-out play. Since it’s cooperative, it doesn’t matter. I usually convince someone to just pop in for one round and then they stay for the whole game because it’s so fun. This is additionally helped by:
- The rules are super easy to explain. There’s not much to them. It’s a fast game to learn.
- Cooperative party games are a really nice niche. I love cooperative games already, so I was delighted by this one. It’s something that comes with me to every party-type scenario, and I’ll probably set it up on a table at my birthday party and let people run it if they want to do so.
- Basically no setup. Again, ideal for a party game. You don’t want to agonize over rules, you don’t want to have people watch you set up. You want to be able to drop it and get it played.
- The marker erasers are really just okay. I mean, most are, but you’ll want to clean the boards every now and then with rubbing alcohol or something so that they don’t get stained.
- The cards are pretty flimsy. Again, you gotta do what you gotta do to keep costs down, and I respect that. Just noting it.
- Over time you’ll start to learn ( / mildly memorize) words that happen to be on the cards. It can make some things (like the word Anniversary, which I am positive is on a card) seem more impressive or less fun. The fix for this is just subbing in cards from Codenames, which have a very wide array of options but exist in the same general complexity space. I’m hoping to try this soon, actually. Or use Pokemon.
- Some of the words are … esoteric. I’m still not totally sure what a Numan is. Unless the clue writer is a huge Gary Numan fan? It’s possible, but, … that wouldn’t have been my first choice for a clue.
Overall: 9.25 / 10
Make way for my new favorite party game, friends. Just One is it. I used to think it was Werewords, and I still hold a soft spot for Anomia, but this is the party game I am looking for. Seriously, I don’t like party games and I like this one. It’s engaging, creative, and fast, and it’s cooperative! This works perfectly for me. Nobody’s yelling too loud or demanding that they get the points for the round or just saying something racist while trying to argue that since the game did it it wasn’t them doing it; they’re coming up with quick, smart clues to try and help a friend guess a random word on a card. It’s a simple system with ingenious outcomes and I love it. It’s probably the inheritor to Codenames in my preferred party game list (though I do love Duet at two players). I think the real trick is the cooperative part. Encouraging players to work together rather than on their own is a really smart, quick way to make the game easy to learn (since players will help each other), fun to play (since everyone’s on the same team; no arguing), and generally conflict free (it’s everyone’s fault if words match; no blame can be assigned). I’ll probably be taking this with me everywhere I go, party-wise, so if you’re looking for a rock-solid party game to add to your repertoire, I’d strongly recommend checking out Just One! I’ve loved it.