Base price: $13.
2 – 8 players.
Play time: ~15 minutes.
BGG | Board Game Atlas
Buy on Amazon (via What’s Eric Playing?)
Logged plays: 2
Full disclosure: A review copy of Olé Guacamole was provided by Le Scorpion Masqué.
I’ve been having really strange on-and-off gaming situations. I had a whole week where I basically only played solo games, another week where I played a bunch of party games, a weekend where I pretty much only played heavy games, a more standard week where I only played two-player games, and then I played MONOPOLY Deal with my sister and her boyfriend and my cousin on Easter. Am I going to do a MONOPOLY Deal review? Not here. But, I mean, if you want one, I’ll write it, I guess? I never really know what people want to read about. But in lieu of that, I can write about one of the party games I played. I should probably get back to the roll-and-writes, next I think about it. But again, another review. Let’s check out Olé Guacamole, new from Le Scorpion Masqué!
In Olé Guacamole, it’s all about words! Words need to be connected, and so you have to, in turn order, come up with a word that’s related to the last word said (but hasn’t been said before). Too easy, you say? Fine; you only get 12 seconds. No problem, you say? Fine. Every card in the deck has some letters on them. Reveal one each turn; you can’t use a word that contains any of the letters that are now face-up. Good luck with that. Will you be able to keep up?
Essentially none! You just have to put the starting card in the center:
Shuffle the other cards:
You should be ready to go!
The nice thing about the rules for Olé Guacamole is that it’s easy enough to remember that you barely need the rulebook to play. One player starts. They flip a card and place it face-up in the center of the table. Then, they have to say a word that doesn’t contain any letters on the card. Easy enough. Then, the next player flips a card and has to say a word that doesn’t contain any letters on either card. Also, the word they said must be related to the previous word. If they goof it, they have to take the cards, flip a new one, and try again! If they take longer than 12 seconds to come up with a word, they have to take the cards, flip a new one, and try again! That’s pretty much it. Be nice, though. Oh, one more thing. Once a word has been said, it can’t be used again in the game (or even the day, if you’re really hardcore).
Certain special cards (called Olé Cards) may change the order of play (flipping the arrow card, skipping players, letting you choose who goes next). Just say Olé and do what the card asks!
Play continues until the last card is revealed! If the player gets it, they distribute the cards to all other players as evenly as possible. Otherwise, they get all the cards. The player with the fewest cards wins!
Player Count Differences
Not many! Functionally, you only have two things to focus on at any given time, and they’re just “how many cards are in the center, and what word was the last word said?” As the player count changes, not much impacts that. Sometimes, on your turn, there will be very few cards in the center; sometimes there will be a lot of cards. There’s … not really much that changes, otherwise, as a function of player count. Even the special card that lets you choose which player goes next doesn’t really change with player count, since, again, the number of cards in the center at any given time depends on what words are used, how the players engage with the game, and how fast the players manage to come up with a word. The one thing is that more words that you don’t say, the more words you have to keep track of; remember that you can’t say a word that’s already been said before. Beyond that, though, I wouldn’t say there’s any particular shift in play with more or fewer players. I’ve enjoyed it with three and enjoyed it with almost eight! No preference, here.
- You might want to go for short words. You’ve at least got a bit higher likelihood of avoiding some of the killer letters if you go that route. That said, you’re also almost always best served by the first thing that pops into your mind, since you’re on a time limit. That said, watch out and make sure you’re not just blurting something without thinking about it.
- You can try to set up your opponents for failure with obscure categories, but do so at your own risk. I’ve never seen someone try this, but I suppose it’s possible. That said, the game is pretty explicit about the fact that you should be pretty chill about category connections (perhaps not as chill as I was, accepting some random location after someone said milk because, quoting me, “they probably have milk there”), so that might not pay off entirely. If you want to play highly-specific category work, I suppose that’s fine; just make sure your whole group agrees to it first. Being the Person Who Takes Party Games Too Seriously isn’t the best look at the table.
- When you have the ability to choose who takes their turn next, you might want to pick either the player with the fewest scored points, or you can take into account the number of cards on the table, I suppose. Again, if you’re playing a party game with an intense, I Need To Win strategy, you might be setting yourself up for an emotional failure, but I’m here to provide strategic insight, not to judge (that said, I’m judging a bit). But given that the player with the fewest cards wins, you might want to target them as best you can (or pass the player torch to the player to their right so that it adds the most cards possible before it gets back to them). You’re relying a lot on other players, though.
- Make sure you remember what words have been said previously! You don’t want to fail because you said something that was previously said. This one’s pretty easy (ish), though; just pay attention and try to keep track of things, or steer categories away from previously used ones. A very mean player might try to steer categories back to already-plumbed depths specifically to try and trap players this way, and while I don’t like it, I inherently respect it.
- Try not to look too hard at the cards in the center; you might trick yourself into using some of those letters, if you’re not careful. If you overfocus on them, you might get fixated on certain letters or certain words and only be able to think about those. You don’t really have time to get fixated. If you’re trying to keep it under twelve seconds, it needs to be fast or you’re sunk.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- Love a word game! Word games are a lot of fun, and I love a word game with a weird twist. This one, banning certain letters but still requiring a speed element, is somewhat diabolical, but I love that for me. My friends, maybe love it a bit less so, but fans of word games will find a lot to like here. It forces you to think about words in a different way, which I’m always here for.
- I also appreciate that there’s a timing element to the game so that it keeps moving quickly. We don’t explicitly have a twelve-second timer; we do the “wait a bit, and then have someone count down from five”, which still keeps the game moving pretty fast, but the explicit twelve seconds (which is what we try to shoot for) keeps the game moving at a GOOD pace.
- It’s very silly to get players to shout when someone goofs, but that’s half the fun. Generally we all chuckle unless something truly ridiculous was said, but it’s all light-hearted. The only real laughs are when someone says a word that’s already been said or they run out of time. Frankly, a lot of players just give up and take the cards when they can’t come up with anything.
- It’s also very fun to watch a player unsuccessfully try to argue that their word was valid when it’s clearly … not. Sometimes players just blurt something that doesn’t make any sense! Then they get a small period of time to try and explain it to the group and we just shake our heads and push the cards towards them. It’s fun.
- I actually like the chaining as a restriction, and love the homophones carve-out. I like that you have to base your word off whatever your opponent said previously! It keeps the game moving at a stream-of-consciousness pace, which is often just … weird. I love when a game gets weird in a fun way. The homophones rule just lets you use homophones (knight and night) interchangeably, and I think that’s just fun. It does introduce some issues around language understanding, but that’s largely true of word games generally, especially when speed is a factor.
- Again, bright green game boxes are a lot of fun. I keep saying it’s not a common color, but then I feel like I’ve said it a lot lately? No idea, but I’m going to keep mentioning it because I like it.
- It’s also just been a while since I’ve played a party game, so it’s nice to have had that experience. This is a fun one. I’ve long held that Scorpion Masqué doesn’t miss, and it’s nice to be proven right again. I wonder what their development process is; they’re very good at producing crowd-pleasers.
- Weird-shaped cards and an avocado-shaped box make the game hard to shuffle and store, though it’s definitely a fun bit of quirk. The cards aren’t terrible, but I have yet to figure out how to store the box in a useful way. It’s currently going to stand up next to Abandon All Artichokes since that one’s artichoke-shaped and I can just have a “boxes shaped like unique foods” corner, which isn’t the worst thing. I’m still mad about Nacho Pile and Bag of Chips being bag… shaped. I get that it makes the game stand out more (and the games are cute, I’ll give them that), but it really interferes with the aesthetic and uniformity of my shelves as a collector, which is something that nobody should ever optimize for under any circumstances.
- The game can depend a lot on the player next to you, which can cause an interesting set of problems. It can be frustrating for a player who struggles with word games, for instance, since the player after them will generally have an easier time, as a result, if they’re continually missing the word. Plus, it makes the competitive aspect of the game suffer a bit since I cannot have any direct influence on basically any player beyond the one after me. It’s got party game energy, but solo game vibes, to some degree. There’s not a great fix for that, unfortunately.
Overall: 8 / 10
Overall, I really enjoyed my plays of Olé Guacamole! I’ve been getting a bit stick of having to copy and paste the é, since as a Garbage American I have no idea how to type accented characters in my reviews and I haven’t bothered to learn even after my Oltréé review (which is really where you think I would have at least bothered to try). That said, I’m getting a bit off-track. Scorpion Masqué has delivered again, showing that their skills as a studio cover all things from family-friendly games to challenging logic puzzles to strategic party games to casual party games. They haven’t missed, pretty consistently since I’ve been reviewing games of theirs, which is a bit dazzling. Not a bad thing to be in awe of, I suppose. I think what makes Olé Guacamole so compelling is that it’s essentially a word game played in negative space, and I love that. No required letters, just a topic and letters you can’t use. You’re forced to guess and check as quickly as you can, and you have to do the task of scanning the letter space (which can get pretty large) to see what you can’t use. It’s a challenge that increases in complexity the longer you can last, and like a good Mario Party game, the entertainment is barely surviving and watching the safe ground shrink underneath of someone else. Is that callous? Probably, but half the fun is the relief you feel when it’s someone else’s turn. If you enjoy that kind of thing, you love a word game like I do, or you’re just a big fan of avocados and avocado-shaped entertainment experiences, I’d recommend taking Olé Guacamole for a spin! I think it’s a rock-solid word game.
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