WBG Score: 7.5
Player Count: 3-8
Published by: The Op
Designed by: Robert A. Kamp
Good party games need to work at multiple player counts, be easily explained to any age group in minutes, and create moments of laughter and excitement. It would be an awkward way to start this review if Blank Slate didn't tick all three of these boxes, so I will quickly reassure you all now, Blank Slate has all of this. Blank Slate has to be one of the easiest games to explain in the history of board gaming. It works great in a three player and could legitimately work up to any player count with more paper and pencils being added, and it has brought a lot of laughter to my table, couch, and local pub garden!
How To Play (in under a minute!)
Ok, start the clock. Set up the game by giving each player a pen and drawing pad and set the score board in the centre of the play area. Place the card stack somewhere convenient. Then draw the top card and place it face up on the table or pass it around for all to see. The card will show either a blank then a word, or a word then a blank. All players will then decide what single word to write on their player board that fits either before or after the word on the card where the blank is. Perhaps the card shows "blank town". Maybe your mind goes to China Town and Ipswich Town. As no one else playing the game is a fan of lower league English football, you decide to go with China, and write that. This is because you will get one point if more than one person writes China as well, but three points if just one single person other than you writes the same. So, you want to pick things other may also pick. And that's the game. Play to a set point score, or time, or number of cards, or until the tea is ready.
Why This Game Works
Blank Slate works well in any player count and due to the nature of the pieces and mechanics, can be played anywhere. I have enjoyed this game around my table as part of a more 'sit-down' game night. Also on my sofa, just chilling with my family. And I have played in the pub, over a few drinks. It creates the spark for many fun conversations, accusations, and celebrations!
When two people write the same thing for something relatively niche that reminds them of a shared experience or funny memory, this is when Blank Slate really shines. Finding joy in common ground is a very human trait. It reminds us of our similarities and makes us feel safe and secure. It bonds us as friends and family members. As fellow homo sapiens. This game is built on this very premise. And it works. It works really well.
I have enjoyed this game with people of all ages, from my daughter who is 6, to relatives in their 70's. The moments when people write something you don't expect are almost as fun as when you match answers. You may predict a particular person in the game will write a specific word based on a conversation you've previously shared with them, or a hobby you knew they were into. But when the answers are revealed and they went down a completely different path, it can be hilariously frustrating and enlightening in equal measure.
You can play this game 'fast-and-fun' and fly through the cards and answers. Or pause and debate each person's answer, falling down various conversational rabbit holes. The box contains the material to create whatever game experience that suits your group's mood and requirements on any given day. With this, it reminds me a lot of Just One. There is more competition and less solo pressure with Bank Slate than the cooperative Just One, but the experience otherwise has many parallels.
Regarding the solo pressure, in Just One, when you are the guesser, there is a lot of expectation on you from the others in the group. No one wants to be the one that freezes or says something really silly and lets the team down. Even in a party game! Some people really don't like this. I really don't like this. I love Just One, and enjoy playing it, but always prefer it when it is not my turn. But I also find it awkward when I see others finding the spotlight difficult. That makes me uncomfortable too. This pressure of being under the spotlight does not exist in Blank Slate. Sure, there are some moments when you may not be able to think of something that suits the blank, but if you write any old gibberish, that's fine. You are not letting the team down. You are not losing a card or point for other people. You just wont get a point yourself that turn. And that's fine. It happens to everyone in this game a lot! And winning or losing really doesn't matter.
This game isn't really about the points, or the winning. It's about the moments it creates. It's about the shared memories, and the laughter. It's about the moments of shocks, and surprise. The high fives and hugs.
I would recommend this game to anyone looking for a versatile party game, that suits all ages, player counts, and game environments. It will deliver on most occasions for most groups and I can see Blank Slate being a firm favourite for many families, coming out on occasions where people are gathered around for a special occasion, and a relaxing, casual, group experience is the order of the day.
There are 250 cards in the box, and all cards are double sided, so there is a lot of fun to be had. It will take a lot of plays to see a card again. And by that point, you could be with a different group, and most probably, many weeks or months apart. The cards are numbered, so if you play with the same group regularly, you can take note of where you were up to and then avoid any repetition of recent cards.
The game has minimal strategy other than trying to second guess your friends. However, I found that going with the word that first comes to your mind seems to work best. However, there are moments when you guess a friend or families answer based on your knowledge of their interests and it feels great. And it is these moments that will keep this game coming to my table, couch or pub for many years to come.