SNAP Review – Master Word
[showing card] “It’s edible“
“Ok. Uhhh. Meat. Food. From the Farm.”
“3 out of 3.”
“Whoa. We’ll have to dial it in then.”
This is a SNAP review for Master Word. Master Word is a cooperative word guessing game. It feels a bit like 20 Questions crossed with the classic boardgame Mastermind. We just gave you a SNAPshot of what it would look like, kind of, but you’ll see in this video how it looks on the table.
The game supports up to six players, and a round lasts about 15 minutes.
So let’s talk about the art in Master Word.
I love it when you give me the easy ones. What art?
Well, the game is all these word cards and some dry erase cards to use for clues. There are thumbs up tokens to show when things are correct, and that’s it. But that’s all this game needs.
So great job on the design, because you don’t actually need much art to make it work. And the graphic design that is there, is perfect.
So let’s talk about these dry erase cards and the word cards and how to play.
One person is the clue giver or Guide and the rest are Seekers. The Guide takes the deck box and pulls the card up enough to see the actual word beneath. Then they put it down and show the top – just the category – to the rest of the players.
Flip over the timer and the Seekers discuss what they think might be good clues to help narrow down potential answers from the category that they know to figure out the target word. Each Seeker writes their own clue and all of them are pushed into the middle of the table.
These should really be yes/no clues, like in 20 Questions, because the Guide only has two things they can do. They can ask clarifying questions of the clues, which may be slight clues in and of themselves (remember, cooperative game). But then they put a number of these thumbs up tokens at the end of the row of clues, showing how many apply to the word that everyone’s trying to guess.
In the case of our example here, we’ve joined a four player game. Our category “Edible” has three clues, Meat, Food, and From the Farm. The Guide said all three were correct, so we’ve got three tokens at the end of the line.
You’ve got to be careful. Each Seeker has six clue cards, so six rounds of guessing. BUT if a Seeker puts the actual answer on a clue card, everyone loses.
Eventually, the Seekers will think they know the answer. The Seekers have three total Solution Cards they can use. One of the Seekers can write an answer on a Solution card instead of a Clue on a clue card. If they’re right, everybody wins!
At any time, once per game (once per WORD), the Guide can take a thumbs up token and put it on a particular Clue card. If the Seekers conversation is getting off track, this is a helpful way to bring everyone back from the edge.
What did we expect from Master Word?
Honestly, I didn’t really have expectations. I had heard good things about it, but our kids often have a hard time with word puzzles, so I was a littler nervous. Party games can be a lot of fun, but in a mixed age group, a lot of times the younger ones get left out – and that’s never something we actually like.
Scorpion Masqué makes good stuff – they made the Zombie Kidz series – so we have a lot of faith in their development. But with this one, I was holding my breath.
[Anitra] It kind of looks like Mickey Mouse on the box – but it’s a word game? I was mostly just really confused what this game was actually about.
Master Word feels very different from other word guessing games, even cooperative games like Just One.
The Guide has a built-in motivation to push the Seekers in the right direction. So instead of a game where they’re just doing some rote hiding of the answer, the act of asking questions about the clues in particular ways can let the Guide be creative as well.
I think that’s a really interesting part of this game.
Because every Seeker gets to write their own clue, every person has agency, even though it’s a cooperative game. Plus, kids come up with some crazy stuff! Sometimes we’ll be looking in one direction but the kids with their wild brains will take the conversation in a totally different direction, and maybe that’s the right one!
Even if it’s not, it can still help narrow down what’s there. One of the cool things about this game is that you can write duplicate clues and it doesn’t actually hurt you.
I really liked the way this game actively encourages the interplay between everybody at the table. A parent can be the Guide and steer the conversation with clever questions while the kids let their creativity fly. Or you can mix the ages of the Seekers for some really wild conversations.
I was really surprised how much more engaging this game was than I expected, especially on the clue giving (Guide) side of the table.
So Anitra, what are we going to rate Master Word from Scorpion Masqué?
I think we’ll give it Four out of Five Clue Cards.
Oh. And before we finish… It was bacon. Definitely edible.
And that’s Master Word in a SNAP.
Find it on Amazon or at your local game store.
The Family Gamers received a copy of Master Word from Hachette Games for this review.
This post contains affiliate links, which do not change your price, but help support The Family Gamers.
SNAP review music is Avalanche, provided courtesy of You Bred Raptors?
Age Range: 12+ (we say 10+ or even a bit younger)
Number of Players: 3-6
Playtime: 15 minutes per round