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[Review] Linq

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Joined: 03/23/2011

Many party games are based on a parlor game and are just the commercialized, streamlined version like Time’s Up and Balderdash. But every once in a while, you come across a party game with a unique, clever idea. Linq (Endless Games, 2003 - Erik Nielson) is one of these, having such a different, fresh idea, that I was enamored upon reading the rules.

The game play of Linq is so interesting that I am still itching to play it again and again. It wasn’t as side-splitting fun as other party games that I’ve played, but it is so fascinating that I enjoyed it tremendously. It was almost a challenge for me to think of ways to be as clever as I could, and that made the game for me. The game attempts to correct the problem where a player can abuse the rules to their own advantage, playing by the “letter” rather than the spirit of the rules, but this can be avoided by simply not bringing this game out with them. I love the game; it’s one of the few times where I was totally immersed in a party game. I normally don’t get that involved in games this light.

Two wipe-off boards are placed in the middle of the table; one of them is used as a scoreboard for the four to eight players, and the other as a visual clue board. Plastic stands are included to hold these boards up; but we just discarded them, as it was much easier to visually see the boards if they were lying flat on the table. A box of clue cards is placed on the table and split into 120 pairs of two cards, each with the same common word on it. Each player is given two sheets of paper - one marked Round One, and the other Round Two - along with a pencil. The first turn is ready to begin.

In a turn, the first pair of Linq cards are secretly pulled from the box and mixed with bluff cards (marked with a “????”). The total amount of cards is equal to the amount of players in the game, and one is dealt to each player. Players secretly look at their cards, and then place them face down in front of them. Starting with the player to the left of the dealer, each player gives a one-word clue to describe their card. Obviously, players who have a bluff card are just making up some word, but they can play off the clues of other players. Each player’s name and clue are recorded on the white board for all to see. Once all players have given a clue word, players write on their Round One sheets. If they think they know the two players who have the Linq cards, they write the names of those players down; otherwise, they write “No Guess”. Players then begin another round of yet another clue word; these clues are also included on the clue board along with the clues from the first round. Players then write on their Round Two guess sheets. If they guessed the “linked” players on the first sheet, then they must write “No Guess” on the second. Otherwise, they make their guess then.

All players reveal their guesses, and the two Linq players reveal themselves. All players who guessed correctly in Round One gain two points; those who guessed correctly in Round Two gain one point; and those who guessed incorrectly sit their sadly with no points. The players with the Linq cards must BOTH guess correctly, or neither of them gets a point. The Linq cards are discarded, and another turn begins. Play continues until one player gets ten points at which point they win!

Some comments on the game...

1.) Components: The game, as most party games, is packaged in too big of a box for its components; but it’s a mass-marketed game, so I guess the extra advertising doesn’t hurt. As I said in my rules explanation, I found the card stands unnecessary; I can’t see how anyone would think that they were more workable than just laying the score sheets down. It was nice for them to include the pencils and erasable markers in the box, but it was a bit of a pain to erase the boards; we needed to use a damp cloth. There are plenty of guess sheets included in the box, enough for multiple games; and you could just use blank paper anyway. I do have a slight concern about the bluff cards getting much more use than the other cards; but maybe I’ll just include some card covers in the game, just to keep players from determining which cards are which.

2.) Rules: The game rules are on four pages and have a few helpful hints and strategies on the back (even though I thought they were fairly obvious). It doesn’t take much to teach this game, although the severity of the difficulty of the clues players give out comes with game playing. It’s certainly not a party game that I would bring out with just any crowd, but rather with people who I think are at least slightly word-savvy.

3.) Number of Players: I think that the optimal number of players for the game is six, although I’ve played a good game with four. Eight players, one I haven’t tried - seems like it might be too chaotic - but six was a good mix. The players who draw the Linq cards have a definite advantage, so with six players the chance of the same person getting them a majority of the time is lessened. Besides, with six players players who are bluffing have a better chance of confusing other players.

4.) Bluffing: I love this part of the game, because the words are of the type that can have a variety of meanings, like “pound” (dog pound, British pound, pound the nails, etc.); and so players can try to use an obscure word, hoping their partner gets it and that no one else will. At the same time, when you have a bluff card, and you have to give the first word; it can be a little flustering. Bluffing after the other players means that you can give a clue similar to theirs, hoping that you followed the same train of thought, but what do you do when you go first? However, creative people can do an excellent job, especially if they look at their card several times contemplatively.

5.) Fun Factor: The fun in this game is not the sort where everyone falls out of their chairs laughing hysterically. Rather, it’s fun to use your brain to come up with words that your partner will guess (if you have a Linq card) or that will fool at least one other person. In the games I played, most of the turns ended with at least a few people guessing the partners, but sometimes the players give clues that were too obscure for the others to guess. At first, we played a rule wrong and awarded points to the players with the Linq cards regardless of whether their partner got the words right or not. This almost turned a few people away from the game, because one of our initial players starting abusing this rule, giving out stupid clues, hoping that he would guess the clue, while his partner sat in the dust. Fortunately, the rule changed things; so for the next game, things went SO much better, and more fun.

The game is a fascinating one, where players are actually trying to give clever, interesting clues or bluffing the others into thinking that they are clever and interesting. While not the first party game I’d take somewhere, there are groups of people who I know would just LOVE this game; it’s very unique and intriguing. It causes one to think - not so hard that you are blowing brain cells but enough to know that when you win - you deserve the victory. Congratulations to Endless Games for putting out a fun, one-of-a-kind party game.

Tom Vasel
“Real men play board games.”

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