Reviewed by Chris Wray
JUST ONE (Repos Production, 3 to 7 players, ages 8 and up, 20 minutes; about $20)
Just One is a cooperative party game by Ludovic Roudy and Bruno Sautter for 3-7 players. Released at Essen 2018, the game seemed to immediately catch fire among word game enthusiasts. The game is decidedly lightweight — one of those games that you could truly play with anybody — but it has earned acclaim from gamers and non-gamers alike in recent months due to its engaging gameplay.
Each player receives a whiteboard (which is triangle shaped and thus stands up) and a dry erase marker. The lead player rotates around the table, and on their turn, they pick #1-5 from a card that everybody else (but not the lead player) can see. For example, the clue might be (and this is a real example) “Rocky”
All of the other players then write down a one-word clue (just one word!) to try to get the lead player to guess the word “Rocky.” So players might write “Mountains” or “Road” or “Bullwinkle” or “Balboa.”
The catch is that these players write their word secretly, and they compare them before showing the lead player. If two or more of the words match, those clues are removed from the game. For example, when a group I played with had the clue “Rocky,” several of us wrote the word “Adrian,” and none of those clues were shown to the lead player.
Based on what is left, the lead player makes a guess. It could be just a word or two, or it could be a full complement of clues. The lead player may also pass.
The goal is to score as many correct answers as possible. The maximum possible score is 13, since you create a stack of that many cards at the beginning of the game. If a player passes, they’ll forfeit one of those points. If a player is wrong, they not only miss that point, but they take away another unused card from the stack, further inhibiting their ability to get to a perfect 13. The game comes with a sliding scale for rating your performance.
Just One was the most popular game of my post-Essen event. Of the 19 attendees that played and rated the game, 10 of them said it was their favorite of the weekend. (My friends do tend to veer towards lighter games: past favorites have included Azul and Fabled Fruit.) I wouldn’t give it that high of a status, but I do think it is an outstanding word game, and easily one of the best party-style games of the year.
It’s one of the easiest party games out there, and my favorite part is that you never have downtime here, because you’re either giving a clue or guessing. It is a game that requires subtlety that is surprisingly hard to achieve. The cooperative nature of it adds something fun, and among the several groups I’ve played with, it inspires that “we must play this again” mentality I love seeing in my fellow players.
The production has a couple of minor flaws — the cards can be see-through in certain lights, and after about a dozen games, I started to see cards over and over again (meaning they should have given us a bigger stack than the 110 cards provided) — but the gameplay itself is remarkably engaging.
We’ve had laugh-out-loud fun with Just One, and I enthusiastically recommend it. I wouldn’t be surprised if this received some recognition during game award season next year. – – – – – – – – – – – – – Chris Wray
Other Winter 2019 GA Report Articles
Reviewed by Herb Levy ALTIPLANO: THE TRAVELER (Renegade Games/dlp, 2 to 5 players, ages 12 and up, 60-120 minutes; $30) One of the best games released in 2017 was Altiplano designed by Reiner Stockhausen, a game set in the high mountains of the Andes as players traveled to different locations, ...Read More
Reviewed by Chris Kovac AUZTRALIA (Stronghold Games, 1 to 4 players, ages 13 and up, 30-120 minutes; $69.95) Auztralia is an action planning game with some light wargame and resource management elements designed by Martin Wallace and the first release in Stronghold Games' "The Great Designer Series". The theme of ...Read More
CHEF'S SURPRISE Eating is one of those things all of us do. Some of us eat to live; others live to eat. And sometimes the activity of eating can be elevated into art! There are a lot of cooking shows on television today, even a few entire networks, devoted to ...Read More
EYES ON ESSEN: A LOOK AT GERMANY'S GIANT GAME CONVENTION by Selwyn Ward “Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space.” ...Read More
[Altiplano: The Traveler, an expansion for Altiplano, is featured in this issue. For those not familiar with Altiplano itself, we "flashback" to how we saw it in the Spring 2018 issue of Gamers Alliance Report.] Reviewed by Herb Levy FLASHBACK: ALTIPLANO (dlp Games/Renegade Games, 2 to 5 players, ages 12 and ...Read More
Reviewed by Greg J. Schloesser HALLOWEEN (Quined Games, 2 to 4 players, ages 12 and up, 60-90 minutes; $69.95) I have always been a fan of horror stories, novels and films. For some reason, I enjoy the tense, impending doom atmosphere that they usually evoke, including the nervous "butterflies" in ...Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy HOLDING ON: THE TROUBLED LIFE OF BILLY KERR (Hub Games/Asmodee, 2 to 4 players, ages 14 and up, 45-60 minutes; $39.99) Just when you think you've seen every theme that could possibly serve as the basis for a game, along comes something that proves you wrong ...Read More
Reviewed by Chris Wray JUST ONE (Repos Production, 3 to 7 players, ages 8 and up, 20 minutes; about $20) Just One is a cooperative party game by Ludovic Roudy and Bruno Sautter for 3-7 players. Released at Essen 2018, the game seemed to immediately catch fire among word game ...Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy KOI (Smirk & Dagger Games, 1 to 4 players, ages 10 and up, 40-60 minutes; $39.95) To relax, to feel tranquility wash over you like a wave over sand, what a wonderful feeling! Wonderful except when you are a koi fish seeking a delicious meal of ...Read More
Reviewed by Joe Huber LIFT OFF (Hans im Gluck/Z-Man Games, 2 to 4 players, ages 12 and up, 60-90 minutes; $59.99) For me, one of the joys of the board game hobby is looking through the new releases for Essen. It’s really a unique pleasure – the only other convention ...Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy LINCOLN (PSC Games/Worthington Games, 2 players, ages 14 and up, 60-120 minutes; $45) One of the most popular historical themes for games is the American Civil War. This conflict split the United States of America in two with the Union forces of the North thrust into ...Read More
Reviewed by Kevin Whitmore OBSESSION (Kayenta Games, 1 to 4 players, ages 13 and up, 30-90 minutes; $54) Obsession is an enjoyable new game released in 2018 by first-time author Dan Hallagan and published by his own Kayenta Publishing company. Obsession is a large boxed game, similar in size to ...Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy RAILROAD RIVALS (Forbidden Games, 1 to 5 players, ages 8 and up, 45-60 minutes; $49.99) One of the factors accounting for the tremendous growth of the United States during the 19th century was the rise of railroads. This method of transportation was crucial in developing the ...Read More
Reviewed by Pevans ROSENBERG TRILOGY: COTTAGE GARDEN, INDIAN SUMMER, SPRING MEADOW (Edition Spielwiese/Stronghold Games, 1 to 4 players, ages 10 and up, 60 or less minutes; $59.95 each) Somewhere along the way, I completely missed Uwe Rosenberg’s Patchwork. Probably because it’s a two-player game. I first became aware of it ...Read More
Reviewed by Andrea "Liga" Ligabue SCORPIUS FREIGHTER (Alderac Entertainment Group [AEG], 2 to 4 players, ages 14 and up, 45-75 minutes; $59.99) It’s been almost 100 years since the Scorpius system was settled. Sentients came from everywhere to start a new life, following their dreams of prosperity and adventure. The ...Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy SPEAKEASY BLUES (Artana Games, 2 to 4 players, ages 10 and up, 45-60 minutes; $60) The "Roaring Twenties" wasn't called that for nothing! In the 1920s when Prohibition was the law and folks were prevented from easily getting their favorite alcoholic beverages, many rebelled against this ...Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy VALPARAISO (dlp Games, 2 to 5 players, ages 12 and up, 45-90 minutes; € 49.95) The lifeblood of all countries is trade. So it was with Chile when, in 1811, the Chilean Congress voted for free trade and, soon after, independence. As Chilean citizens of influence, ...Read More