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Review: Just One

4-7 player
Age 8+
Designed by Ludovic Rody and Bruno Sutter
Published by Repos Production

Just One is a party game where, in true parlor game fashion, you get a card with a word on it and your friends have to communicate it to you. With Just One, the card is placed on a pleasing white board stand and you pick a number from 1-5, which will communicate the word to your group. The other players then secretly write something related on their white board stands, then compare words. Any repeats are discarded and then these clues are shown to the first player. You then have to work out the word from their brilliant, but obscure clues.

Now my family loves a parlor game. Our copy of Pictionary went on every family holiday with us, but we were rubbish at Just One. Maybe it was just us, we kept going a bit obscure on the clue in hopes that no-one else would pick it, which only led to the first player being utterly baffled.

I then played it at a dinner party and, again, rubbish score. Telestrations, on the other hand, we played endlessly over Christmas, to much hilarity. And this brings me to my point. For whatever reason, we did not find the normal joy in Just One that we do in Pictionary, Articulate or Telestrations, with the usual “I’m sorry that is NOT what a dog looks like” or “How could you not get Blue Tit!!”

There are some games which people struggle with in social situations, Spy Fall for example can reduce people to a mute confusion, while other people lie with such mendacity you worry for your own safety. Just One seems to fall, unfortunately, into the former category.

It was the 2019 Spiel Des Jahre winner, beating out the equally word based Werewords, and L.A.M.A, an Uno style card game. I’ve not played either of the other nominations, so can’t really speak to whether it should have won. What I can say is what my mum said, “its not really in the same league as King Domino, is it?”

As far as SDJs go, it does tick a lot of the traditional winner’s boxes; it’s an entry level, simple, family game with a fun/unusual component. As I said, the elements are all very pleasing, however for a party game it can be very isolating and thinky. Mostly you sit there pondering what a good clue would be (discarding words that you’ve forgotten how to spell) and hoping that no-one else came up with it.

Invariably, even if you come up with something lickety split, someone else will be sitting there for 5 minutes going, “I just don’t know what to put?” During this time you are just thumb twiddling. Maybe if there was a time limit, it might add an element of jeopardy lacking in this part of the game. Then again, the first player sits there with no time limit checking that they can read your appalling scrawl and then head scratching only to guess something totally unrelated.

In contrast, the big boys of the SDJ winners, Ticket to Ride and King Domino are arguably a lot less interactive in their mechanic, however there seems to be more fun interaction. We always end up having joking arguments about who is hoarding all the yellow cards or why you stole the route someone else was CLEARLY working towards.

Just One is a fine party game and for £20. There’s no reason not to own it if you like word-based parlor shenanigans. If your only experience of the SDJs is of Azul and Ticket to Ride, you might be a little disappointed or baffled, but its low price point is a massive benefit. If you find a group who can ace this game with minimal umming and erring then I see no reason why it shouldn’t be a family favorite, just maybe not my family.

PAX Unplugged 2019: Crystal Chaos

In the hustle and bustle of PAX Unplugged 2019, we were able to sit down with Fawn of Ogopogo Gaming. We sent her a few questions to answer about her game, which is currently on Kickstarter! Video interview coming soon.

Q. Tell Us About Your Game

A. Crystal Chaos is a fast paced party game that takes 10-15 minutes to play. It’s all about finding and acquiring the Treasure card while your opponents sow chaos all around you. The game seems simple at first, but once players get used to the mechanics of moving cards and hands around and manipulating the draw deck, they realize how deep the strategy can really be.

Q. What Was Your Inspiration To Create the Game?

A. I was driving in my car one day and a wave of inspiration hit me. I wanted to make a game that would appeal to experienced gamers and beginners alike as well as children and adults. I used to play Old Maid with my grandmother and cousins, so I started to brainstorm ways it could get a major overhaul to meet my requirements. I went over all the options for rules and card mechanics in my head and pitched it to my business partner. We started play testing it and tweaking it to make it robust. In the end, it’s very much a collaboration that we are both happy with.

Q. When should we expect to see it? OR, if already released, how has the response been since release?

A. The target launch is late July or early August 2020. So far the response to customer demos has been overwhelmingly positive. Our kickstarter is live now and is 20% funded with 16 days remaining. We have a lot to go, but we are determined to see it launch.

Go check out Ogopogo Gaming’s Kickstarter for Crystal Chaos! Back it if you’re able to because it’s seriously an awesome game! Stay tuned for the video interview, where Crymson plays the game with Fawn!