Password

What it is: A talking, guessing game for four players

Best for: Teens to adults

What you need: Only a list of words (and I’ve got plenty for you)

How to play: You play password with two teams of two. There’s one word (the password) that one player on each team knows, and both are trying to get their teammate to guess the word first by taking turns giving one-word clues.

Here’s how it works.

Let’s say our players are Ben and Brooke (on one team) and Dan and Donna (on the other team).

Each team chooses one player to go first. We’ll say Ben and Dan. Using a word generator or paper slips or cards with words written on them, one word is chosen, the word that will be the password for both of them. We’ll say it’s “key.”

Ben and Dan both know the password, while it’s kept secret from Brooke and Donna.

Once Ben and Dan both know the password, the game can start. One of them will go first, say Ben. He gets a chance to get his teammate Brooke to guess the password. The trick is, Ben can only give a one-word clue. He might say “lock.” With her one-word clue, Brooke thinks and makes a one-word guess as to what the password might be. She might say, “door?” Because she guesses incorrectly, it’s now Dan and Donna’s turn.

Dan can now give Donna a one-word clue. He might say “metal.” Now Donna has the benefit of knowing Dan’s clue as well as Ben’s. But she might still guess incorrectly and say, “safe?”

Now it’s Ben’s turn again. He thinks hard and gives the clue “unlock.” It’s Brooke’s turn to guess, and now she has three clues to work with: lock, metal, and unlock. That might be enough for her to correctly guess, “key?”

Play goes back and forth between the two teams, as many turns as it takes, until someone guesses the password. Once someone correctly guesses the password, the round is over, that team gets a point, and you start another round. Switch roles first, so Brooke and Donna are giving the clues and Ben and Dan are guessing. Every two rounds, switch which team goes first.

That’s the basic gameplay! It’s simple and might even seem boring, but it can actually get really funny. You might have seen the game played on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.

The game is also a fun test as to how well two players know each other. The more you know about your partner and the way they think, the better chance you have of figuring out their clues. For example, once when my husband and I were playing, the password was stomp. The other team had given the clue foot, and it was my turn to give my husband a clue. Our three-year-old daughter was going through a very stubborn phase where she was apt to throw mini tantrums, so I only had to say Annelise for my husband to know exactly what I was talking about. 🙂

As for what words to use, the word lists for catchphrase, either easy or medium, might work well. My online or app form word generator is a great resource. Multi-meaning words like organ and wave are always interesting, because the clue-givers can say any one-word clue they want, even if they use a different definition of the password that has previously been used. The same goes for words like coach or bruise that can be either verbs or nouns.

Variations: The game is similar to catchphrase.

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