Reviewed by Herb Levy
IMAGINE (Gamewright, 3 to 8 players ages 12 and up, about 20 minutes; $14.99)
Over recent years, games from Japan have been appearing on American shores offering a fresh perspective on game design and many of these have appeared in our pages such as Guild (Summer 2012 GA Report), Too Many Cinderellas (Fall 2014 GA Report) and Rolling America (last issue). While these games fit into other categories, party games are not immune to this Asian perspective as seen in this new release designed by Shokoro Nakshima: Imagine.
The basic premise is similar to other party games: the active player tries to get someone to guess a word or phrase. What sets Imagine apart from others of its type is the additional facet to a player’s creativity by using transparent cards. It works like this.
There are 61 transparent cards showing designs, semi-recognizable shapes and/or patterns and just odd things in varying colors. These cards are spread out on the playing surface for all to see. (It seems obvious but be sure the underlying surface is white or a light solid color. Patterns on a paisley tablecloth, for example, would be a disaster!) The second set of cards, the Enigma cards, are shuffled and given to the active player.
There are 8 categories with 8 matching items on each Enigma card numbered 1 through 8. Another player calls out a random number, the active player reads out the category matching that number and then begins his or her attempt to get someone to guess what that category item is by using those transparent cards.
The active player may use as many cards as he/she wishes. These cards can be rearranged, stacked, partially hidden with your hands, built into a 3D model of whatever it is you’re trying to have the other players guess etc. There are NO restrictions EXCEPT you can’t speak, make noises or sing, mime or make letters or numbers with the cards. Other players start guessing as soon as you start and guesses can be shouted out with no penalty. The first player to guess the correct item gets a 1 point chip as does the successful active player. Then, play continues clockwise with the next player being the active player, a new card and category randomly chosen and the shouting of guesses once again. Play continues around the table until all players have been successful in having 2 of their Enigmas guessed. The player with the most chips wins!
In our plays of the game, we have modified some of the (very few) rules which you might want to adopt as well. First, we allow charades type signals which helps guide the guessers into the right areas. (This is not prohibited by the rules but it is not specifically stated as permissible either.) There is no time limit to the guessing but when guesses start becoming less and less reasonable and less and less frequent (or more and more repetitive), we put an end to the round, no one gets a point and play passes to the next player. We also dispense with the “all players need to be successful in having two of their Enigmas guessed”. Let’s face it. Some people are lousy clue-givers and their lack of skill in this area could cause the game to go on too long. We limit play to two rounds around the table so that everyone has a chance at trying their translucent talent. At that point, high point total wins.
With so many party games out there, I had my doubts as to the kind of reception Imagine would get. Surprisingly – or maybe not so surprisingly – the game got an enthusiastic response, particularly from the younger gamers at the table. The teens in the group wanted to BUY their OWN copy! Talk is cheap but when people are willing to put their money down to back up what they say, then you can’t deny that you have something special here. Imagine that! – – – Herb Levy
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Fall 2016 GA Report Articles