HINT review

As it’s looking like we have to be a little conservative with our holiday plans again this year, we take a look at a few great board game options to play at home with a small group of family and/or friends. Today we look at HINT, also known as “Get a HINT”, a game originally published in Scandinavia by Bezzerwizzer but also available internationally through Asmodee.

As with games like Cranium, HINT is a guessing game that uses a variety of mechanics to let players and teams try to figure out what’s on a playing card by providing – you guessed it – hints. The game takes a liberal approach to the term ‘hint’ though, as each turn is a matter of drawing, humming, talking or miming. As with similar games, HINT is great a bringing out different kinds of creativity in players, as someone who is tone-deaf might be great at verbally communication and someone whose drawing skills never went past stick figured might be awesome at acting out what’s on the next card.

Once you start with a card, your team has 90 seconds to try and guess as many of the five words on the back of the card, so there’s definitely time pressure here. There’s also a sixth word there which you’re not allowed to guess, or it will cost you two points – correct answers being worth one. This creates an interesting dynamic where you can spend part of those 90 seconds trying to give hints about what NOT to guess, or you can go for all five and risk being bumped back to three in the process.

hint3

That’s the dynamic for the person providing hints, but the teammates who are guessing also can’t be too gung ho as their guesswork can cost them points instead of earning them. At the same time, you don’t want to leave too many answers unclaimed, as the other team can claim them with a single guess at the end of the round. Interestingly enough, that forbidden answer that you were trying to avoid can net them two points if they guess it, so both the guesser and the hint-giver have to constantly be careful about what they give up – taking into account what the other team might not recognize but what could make sense to the people on your own team.

On top of the core mechanic of guessing answers, there’s also a game board with a wheel that you spin to help you select your next card – while also keeping track of which team is in the lead. It’s a simple and elegant design that fits nicely in the box that the game comes in, so this is a great game for situations where you don’t have a ton of table space to spare – which in most households describes a holiday get-together pretty well.

hint

A game of HINT is played with two teams so you need a minimum of four players, but in larger groups you can have up to six people per team as well. Theoretically you could play with even more, but then you’re waiting an awfully long time for your turn to provide hints and the guessing can become chaotic that way. With 600 cards across the four categories, there’s plenty to go around, and with the different ways in which people bring their hints to life we’ve only had a single case of “I know this one already!”. HINT also comes with a felt pen and drawing board for the drawing category, but obviously a regular pen and paper solution works great as an alternative or replacement as well.

As with most guessing games, one of the issues with HINT is that some answers will simply be unknown to the person having to get them across to their teammates. This can be especially true when having to hum songs, as some are from a niche genre – or when you’re playing with an international group and come across cards with heavily localized answers. We found that being liberal with the option to pass on a card helped here, because no one – not even the other team – wants a wasted turn.

Luckily, those situations are exceptions, and HINT is an absolute blast to play. It’s really easy to pick up and play, to very welcoming to newcomers. It also has a nice compact design that makes it great for a busy table setting, while also reducing the time to set up and clear the game. This is one we’ll be opening up regularly over the next few weeks.

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