There are plenty of word games out there where players try to build letters upon one another, but You’ve Been Sentenced! from McNeill Designs for Brighter Minds raises the bar to the next level. Players must assemble words into sentences from pentagonal cards featuring collections of words such as “hold,” “holds,” “held,” “holding,” and “holder.” It takes creativity and a little strategy to line up the words appropriately, and a good sense of humor will soon reduce everyone to laughter.
Gameplay in YBS is easy to learn. Players draw 10 cards each, and simultaneously begin to assemble their cards into sentences for maximum points. Easy words like “held” are only worth five points, while harder words like “kicker” and “fantasized” are worth 10 and 20, respectively. As soon as one player has finished his or her sentence, the sand timer is flipped, and the rest of the players must scramble to finish what they have. The two-step system allows an initial freedom of creativity while the timer ratchets up the tension to a mad pace, giving it the best of both worlds. Like other word games, the sentences can be “objected” by other players, calling for a defense and a vote for players serious about their grammar. For less serious players, optional rules give bonus points for the most hilarious or otherwise best sentence.
A plethora of additional rules allows players to adapt YBS into the perfect game for them. Many are about tweaking the use of the timer such as removing it completely in “Casual” play or using it from the beginning in “Not-So-Casual” for maximum frantic sentence-building. Other rules focus on grammar, such as the use of the word “the.” “Deadwood” has players to hold onto unused cards rather than drawing fresh each round, enforcing creativity to use up particularly difficult cards.
YBS comes with 540 cards, making for more than 2,500 words, including Wild Cards that are worth zero points but can be very handy in assembling a complex, point-rich sentence. Players can go even further by incorporating the many add-on decks with themes such as Pop Culture, NASA Space Terminology, Sports Highlights, and Gourmet Cuisine, really something for everyone. People who may be generally word-shy will happily launch into the game seeing that it appeals to their own interest with cards featuring “50 yard line” or “Hubble Space Telescope.”
True word-aficionados, meanwhile, can bring in the “Brain-Buster Word Challenges.” While the other decks may be mixed freely with the base set of YBS, the Word Challenge deck is specifically set aside as a stack of difficult words worth high point values. Players may want to have a dictionary on hand to tackle words such as “ebullient” or “kerf,” the latter worth a whopping twenty-five points. These not only embiggen players’ vocabularies, but they can be fun words to toss around in particularly mirthful sentences.
You’ve Been Sentenced! is a word game for three to ten players aged eight and up. Games are usually a quick 30 minutes, and players may lengthen or shorten it by changing the ultimate points-goal. YBS is a great educational tool, and its website features lesson plans for teachers and parents. In addition to its own educational merit, McNeill Designs for Brighter Minds donates a portion of proceeds to the Success Won’t Wait program that encourages literacy through book drives and events. Whether players are expert wordsmiths or students working to master subject-verb agreement, You’ve Been Sentenced! is a fun, and funny, way to tackle the next level of wordplay.[amazon asin=B000EVLZ9U] Powered by Sidelines