Dec 28, 2011

Pro's and Con's Mini Review: Train of Thought

Format: Party Game
Designers: Jay Cormier and Sen-Foong Lim
Publisher: Tasty Minstrel Games

Train of Thought is the first published game from the Bamboozle Brothers, Jay Cormier and Sen-Foong Lim. It's a party word game for 2 to 7 players that's super simple to learn but a heck of a brain burn to play at times. The game consists of a six sided die, a small hourglass timer and a whack load of cards. Each card has six words on it labeled with a die face. Players take turns being the "Conductor" and try to get the other players to guess a "destination word" from a card that matches a die roll. The tricky part is that the Conductor can only give a three word clue and the clue must contain the "start word" found on another card. If no other player guessed the destination word, the Conductor can then give another three word clue but must incorporate one of the guesses from the other players. This creates a sort of "train" of clues leading ever closer to the destination word.

In this Pro's and Con's review I will look at a few aspects of Train of Thought from a professional and consumer point of view. Here goes!

Pro's Take:
The underlying concept of Train of Thought is quite interesting. Having to work with the other player's guesses to steer them toward the destination word creates a rather unique gameplay experience and having to do it all under the pressure of the timer makes the game really frantic!
The game's scoring is also worth mentioning as it's possible to score both as the Conductor by having other players guess your destination words and as a guesser for successfully guessing destination words. This allows players to play to their strength, being guessing or giving clever clues. The way you keep track of scoring is also nice and simple. Player's simply collect face down cards to act as point counters. At the end of the game, count your score cards! Easy peasy and no need for a score sheet or extra components.

Con's Take:
Train of Thought is fast and frantic. As players guess and new destination words are drawn you'll laugh and sputter trying to figure out how to create connections between the most unrelated words. But make no mistake, this game is hard! I don't mean it's complicated or anything, in fact it's super easy to learn and explain and you'll be off to the races in no time. What's hard are the mental gymnastics needed to actually come up with clues. Train of Thought really forces you to get into a certain mind set to play it effectively. But, as I mentioned before, a good guesser can also come out on top so it's possible to offset your lack luster clue giving skills with top notch guessing chops.

So, what to say about Train of Thought? I, like it. It's fun and cleaver and succeeds at being a simple party game with more meat on its bones that most of its ilk. Those looking for a "check your brain at the door and laugh hysterically" kind of experience may want to keep this one for days when they're feeling more alert.

If you want to check out one of the best blogs about the process of game design a publication hit up the Bamboozle Brothers blog.

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