Talk About CrossTalk
CrossTalk: A New Kind of Party Game
The widest genre that exists within boardgaming is a “party game.” It encompasses games like Cards Against Humanity, where everyone gets to feel clever but the game makes all the jokes for you. It includes games like the ever-hilarious Time’s Up: Title Recall where you play charades with strict limitations, and actually have to be clever and think quickly to win.
Another subgenre within party games includes the slower-paced, thinking party games. Codenames fits into this category and took the boardgame world by storm in 2015, emerging as an accessible, subdued party game of clever thinking and guessing. Crosstalk, released earlier this year by Nauvoo Games, exists in a similar space as Codenames, but takes the concept to the next level for more strategy-focused gamers.
In CrossTalk, two teams are both trying to guess the same word. The guessing and second-guessing begins almost immediately – by both the guessers and the clue-givers
Clue-givers can only give one-word clues, and the clues from both teams are public. The tricky part is that the opposing team’s guesser gets to guess immediately after you give your clue. This, by itself would make for an interesting party game, but each team also starts the round by given their team one secret clue.
The timing paired with the hidden secret clue make for gameplay that is subtle, manipulative, and crafty. For example, you might be deliberately trying to confuse the other team with your public clue, while still providing relevant information for your teammate given the context of your hidden clue. However, since neither you nor your teammate know the other team’s secret clue, the tendency toward subterfuge is strong, and the subtlety of your clues can easily slide the entire table into hilarious confusion.
As you might be able to tell, there is a lot to think about in a game of CrossTalk. Let’s say the phrase both teams are guessing is “parking ticket.” One team could give the secret clue “car,” and the other team could give the clue “illegal.” Now, both captains have to try to give their teammate clues that won’t give away too much to their opponent. If either team had the other team’s hidden clue, guessing the word would be simple. This means each public clue becomes intentionally vague and less specific.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE
If you have ever wanted to design football plays, the hint board is perfect for you. Once per round, the clue-giver can hand a card to their teammate, linking all clues and guesses – of both teams – in an infographic format. It is truly hilarious drawing arrows between guesses, circling clues for emphasis, crossing clues out that you know were intentionally misleading, and underlining words to try to get your team to guess synonyms.
HOW IT FEELS
Tense and delicious. I have not stopped playing this game since I got it. It’s a party game for both strategy gamers and your family members who have tried simpler games and were unfazed. It’s a truly great party game in that it seems to have unlimited replayability, because like the best board games, you aren’t just playing a game—you are playing your opponents.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK
- There is a bit of awkwardness in the basic format of “I give a clue, the opponent’s team guesses.” New players are confused as to whose turn it is.
- The public clue board doesn’t have blank spaces to write down guesses, which doesn’t jive well with the hint board which has you trying to remember what the third guess was for the black team..
If you are looking for the next party game that outperforms and outlasts its genre, you will absolutely enjoy CrossTalk. It’s going to be around for a long time, and I definitely can’t see it leaving my collection.
18/20 – Highly Recommended