Dale Yu: First Impressions of Choice Words



Choice Words

  • Designer: Robert Kamp
  • Publisher: Mindware
  • Players: 2-8
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Ages: 10+
  •  Times played: 2, with review copy provided by Mindware

choice words

I was approached by the designer of this game, Robert Kamp, to take a look at his new release over the holiday season.  As I knew that I would have plenty of non-gamers around the house, this seemed like a good opportunity to try out a game that is geared more for the causal gamer.


Choice Words is a game where players try to come up with phrases that use words that appear on drawn cards.  Each player is given a sheet to write down their answers – and someone is designated the starting player.  There are two different decks of cards in the game, a “Match Play” and a “Scratch Play”.  The starting player chooses either one of the decks and draws a card out of the box for that deck.  


If “Scratch Play” is chosen, players will all read the work on the revealed card and then try to come up with as many phrases as they can which include that word (or use that word as a root).  There is a sand timer included in the game, and players scribble down their phrases in the allotted time.  Then, once the timer has run out, each player in turn reads off the answers on their sheet (i.e. as in Boggle).  If more than one player has the same answer written down, all of those players scratch it off their list.  You will only score points here if you have a phrase written down that nobody else has!  If there is a dispute about whether or not your phrase is valid – the rules just tell you to work it out, though if more than 2 players dispute an answer, it is automatically ruled invalid.  Once all players have read out all their answers, players score one point for each remaining answer on their list.


If “Match Play” is chosen, players look at the card from that deck which has three half phrases.  They then write down one word for each of the three blanks.  The goal here is to write down a word that will be matched by other players.   The timer is not used here – players simply announce when they are done answering all three questions.  Then, players again announce their answers.  For each answer, players raise hands if they have the matching answer written down.  All players score points for matched answers – you get a number of points equal to the total number of players that had the matched answer written down.

choice words cards

After the round is over, the next player around the table is given the chance to choose between a Scratch Play or Match Play card.  The game continues until a target point total is reached


  • For 7-8 players: 60 points
  • For 5-6 players: 50 points
  • For 4 or fewer players: 40 points


My thoughts on the game


Choice Words provided us with a new game to play at some otherwise dull holiday parties.  The good news is that just about everyone at the party was able to play.  Admittedly, young children who haven’t yet developed a decent vocabulary may struggle at the Scratch Play portion of the game, but frankly, they did just fine in the Match Play rounds as their otherwise limited knowledge generally obligated them to write down answers that were commonly used by other players!


The rules are a bit vague on what to do with conflicts on answers, but in reality, this is the sort of game that people shouldn’t be taking that seriously.  In the end, it’s a party game – and frankly, with children, I’d just as soon try to encourage them to remember phrases and idioms that they may have heard.  I think that you could probably even have just kids play the game – though you might need an adult to tally the scores up.


Choice Words was well received by my family and guests, and it works well with non-gamers.  The two different types of games allow players of all abilities to participate.  I’ll keep this around for other family gatherings filled with non-gamers as well as for school and church functions where we need activities to bring people together and keep them interested with group activities.  As it uses phrases that you are used to hearing/reading, it doesn’t rely as much upon raw knowledge as Boggle – and thus, it is much more accessible to the people playing the game.


Until your next appointment,

The Gaming Doctor





About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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