03 October 2023
Flip the script and work together to guess a hidden word – Sides offers an interesting refresh to the usual word guessing style, making it a game worth playing.
Why is it that most Word Association games feel like they were designed by an English teacher? Not that this is bad thing, we all probably remember the fun teacher from our time at school, but so many word games feel like they were designed for the last day of term, when no-one can focus on anything but the rapidly approaching holidays.
It might be that a lot of these games also revolve around a single clue guesser, letting one person keep the unruly children (i.e., your friends who’ve come over for games night) under control. What’s so refreshing about Sides is how it flips this expectation, offering a small but substantial twist that breathes new life into an otherwise well-worn genre.
How do you play Sides?
In Sides, players work together to try and guess as many nouns from clue cards as much as possible. The usual rules apply, no saying the word itself (even in other languages, nice catch whoever wrote that rule for Sides) or miming the thing in question (this isn’t Charades after all), but the one word guess you make must also start with a letter on one of the up to seven cards on the table. Players can only make clues by using and removing the cards on the sides, so if the arrangement was M, T and P, you can’t use the clue ‘turret' for the answer ‘castle’ until you’ve either tried ‘moat’ or ‘princess’ first. Players can also discard the outermost cards if they need to, but given there are only 26 cards in the letter deck and the game ends once you run out, it can be better to give out a wild clue over nothing.
Whilst the card limit and fully cooperative gameplay aren’t necessarily anything new to the genre, I can’t think of many games that have more than one clue giver at once. When playing with three or more players, there are two ‘Witnesses’ who are responsible for clues (in the 2-player mode, each player must both give clues and make guesses simultaneously.) Both Witnesses will have the same word to try and get the other players to guess and are encouraged to work together without being able to say any nouns. This leads to amusing moments with two players having a conversation with no context as everyone else listens in bewilderment.
It’s the smallest change to the formula, but surprising how massive an impact it is to share the problem with someone else. In other games, being the only one with the answers can be a pressuring experience, but in Sides you always have someone helping you with this wordplay burden. As the letters slowly run out, the whole table becomes tense, wishing the witnesses to find the word they need, so that the clues can be replenished back to seven.
Once you do get a word correct, the board is refreshed (unless the letter deck runs out, in which case you keep playing until all the letters are used) and a new card drawn, whilst the role of witness passes clockwise, with one new guesser and the leftmost of the previous pair. This neatly solves another flaw with many party guessing games; everyone gets their chance to be the clue giver without needing to replay the whole game.
What do we think of Sides?
Sides is still very much of its genre, so if you don’t like word association games, you won’t find anything to change your mind here. For those who do enjoy them and maybe thought they’d seen all this genre had to offer, Sides offers a fresh perspective that’s engaging in all the best ways.
Review by Matthew Vernall
Should You Play Sides?
Sides manages to find just the right twist to refresh the word guessing formula, making for a fun yet somehow frantic game of desperately willing your friends to read your thoughts.
You Should Try Sides if you liked...
If you enjoy the word association puzzle but wish you didn’t have to compete against another team, Sides lets you have the same fun but shared with everyone around the table.
On the Box
Designer: Cédrick Caumont and François Romain
Publisher: Captain Games
Time: 35-45 minutes
What’s in the box?
- Captain Tile
- 136 Game Cards
Gaming In Your Hands
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