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Train of Thought - Game Review

Three Word Taboo: A fast-paced clue-giving party game.

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Train of Thought

Train of Thought

Image courtesy of Tasty Minstrel Games

Train of Thought is a party game where you try to get your friends to guess a word using three-word clues. As your turn goes on, each of your new three-word clues will use a word from a previous guess.

Vital Stats

Players: 3-7
Time: 30 Minutes
Designers: Jay Cormier and Sen-Foong Lim
Publisher: Tasty Minstrel Games

Components: 1 rulebook, 200 destination cards, 1 conductor card, 1 two-minute sand timer, 1 six-sided die.

Gameplay Summary

On your turn, flip up the top card of the deck, and roll a die to determine which word is used from each card this round.

The card face-up on the table gives you the starting word for your clue. Draw another card, which remains hidden in your hand, to get your destination word. The object of the game is to use a three-word clue to get other players to guess your destination word. Your first clue must include the starting word on the table card. For example, if your table card had the word "rock", and your destination word was "peach", you might say, "Fruit With Rock".

Clues cannot include any part of the destination word. All three clue words must matter; you can't just say your starting word and then an unrelated two-word clue for your destination word.

The timer begins when you give your first clue. Players may each make one guess for the destination word. Once at least one player has guessed, you may offer a new clue using one of the guesses as your starting word. For example, if "Fruit with Rock" resulted in guesses of "Cherry", "giant" and "grape", you might say "James Had Giant". Then if someone correctly guessed "Peach", you would each score a point.

Once someone gets your destination word, you play that card to the table and draw a new destination card. The correct guess (in this case, "peach") is now your starting word, and a new destination word is in your hand. Your turn ends when time runs out. The game ends when everyone has gone twice.

NOTE: This is only a brief summary, with some details omitted.

The Good And Bad

Good Stuff

Train of Thought has no downtime. Once the game starts, you are constantly engaged, whether you are the conductor scrambling to think of good clues, or one of the guessers trying to figure out what the conductor means. It's nice to have a game that keeps all players actively involved at every second, and Train of Thought does a splendid job.

New but familiar. Train of Thought's three-word clues are an original idea, and the connections lend the game a neat feeling of progression. That being said, it feels similar enough to other well-known party clue-giving games (Taboo, or even Charades) that players will immediately understand the game after a minute of explanation and be able to jump right in and start playing.

High-Energy Fun. Once the timer flips, there's a constant stream of rapid-fire clue-giving and guessing that is very exciting. After a few rounds of this game, I found myself a little amped up! It's a bit of a mental workout to try to think that fast, but it's a whole lot of fun, and even the initially skeptical seemed to enjoy it.

Bad Stuff

Train of Thought really only has a single flaw: The unconnected two-word clue. In some cases, it's obvious that if your starting word is "spaghetti", that "Rock, Paper, Spaghetti" is cheating to arrive at "scissors" as a destination word. But often it will be in doubt, such as using "couch" to try "Fry stains couch" to get "ketchup."

Because the timer is running during all the frantic clue-giving, there's no time to stop and argue over whether each clue was valid (and even if you did, it would slow down the game -- and the fun). The result is that some players will unintentionally keep giving clues of dubious legality, but there's not a good quick way to stop it from happening.

Conclusion

Train of Thought is fast, frenzied, and fun.

The two-word clue issue means that playing with rules lawyers should probably be avoided, but if people try to stick to the spirit of the game it should work out. Train of Thought is a mental workout, and bound to leave you laughing at the few clues that were obvious to you but opaque to all your guessers.

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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