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How to Crush the Competition in Family Taboo

by: Rochelle Connery ; edited by: Michael Hartman ; updated: 5/25/2012 • Leave a comment

Playing family Taboo is all about guessing the most words per minute. The tough part is developing a method that will help you explain the cards such that your family members can guess them without knowing the entire context of the word.

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    Family Taboo Gameplay

    Family Taboo Family Taboo starts off with players splitting into teams of at least two people each. One player gives the other teammate clues to guess the words on a card. They’re given one minute to guess as many cards as possible.

    But it’s harder than it sounds. What makes sense to you might not make sense to your teammate. The trick is to develop clues on the fly that help you create a bridge from the word on the card to something off the top of your teammate’s head.

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    The Method

    Successfully creaming the competition in family Taboo is about knowing your teammate. If you’re siblings or parent and child teams, you live with each other all the time and know what sorts of movies, music, hobbies and daily life each other likes and has.

    One easy way to get a teammate to guess clues is to relate it to something in pop culture. Let’s assume you just picked up the word “midnight.” How are you going to explain this?

    If you take the standard way, you’d try to make your opponent guess what hour came between 11:00 pm and 1:00 am – without saying the words hour or time – or perhaps even “Cinderella,” due to the enchanted carriage changing back to a pumpkin at midnight.

    So instead, you might say “Linkin Park’s album: Minutes to ‘Midnight’!” If you know your teammate knows of or likes Linkin Park, this is a surefire way to make them guess this clue.

    And look at how much time that saved you. Instead of scanning down the card for a list of taboo words, then trying to develop a descriptive hint and watch your teammate scratch his head as he tries to guess, you took a shortcut and are now onto the next card in a matter of seconds.

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    Where to Draw References From

    Achieving a high score in family Taboo means you might think of ways you can draw up references to everyday things ahead of time. You won’t necessarily discuss this with your teammate, but you should be thinking of something your dad said about work yesterday, what you had for lunch or what movie you watched last Friday night.

    Remember that the question does not need to be asked within context of itself. Your goal is only to get your teammate to say the word – not understand why they’re saying it. Breaking out of this mold will free your mind to explore new ways to give clues.

    Here are some areas you can draw from for references:

    • Pop culture: Quotes from or names of songs, names of albums, artists or bands, celebrities, movies, movie quotes
    • Everyday life: What you eat every Saturday morning, the color of the vehicles you own, the shoes your mom wears to work each day – anything that you can draw colors, styles, models, food types or other technical specifications from. You never know how something simple can click with a teammate’s brain.
    • Characteristics of a person or character: For example, “Crude” is one of the words in family Taboo. Instead of trying to reference a prehistoric tool or crude oil, say something like “Adam Sandler’s jokes are referred to as what kind of humor?” and chances are, “crude” is the first word to pop into your opponent’s mind.

    The key to scoring high with your teammate is to not leave out any options for clues. Take a quick glance around the room for shape and style ideas you can reference on the fly. Try to use as little thinking and as few words as possible when giving clues, and you’ll rack up the points in no time.


    My own gaming experience