To write about or not to write about – sometimes that’s the question. Games come across my desk all the time and we play them and typically it’s love at first play or not so much (yet I still give them a second chance). But once in a while there’s a game that didn’t go well in the first play but I have a feeling it was just with the wrong group of people. You’ve Been Sentenced completely fits into that category.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with this game, it’s all about creating a sentence out of the ten 5-sided cards in your hand. Each side of the card has either a different word or phrase – they can be the same type of word (like a bunch of names or colors), a different form of a word (like: dream, dreamer, dreaming, dreams, dreamt), or a series of little words (like: and, of, the, to, a). Each side of the card also has a point value ranging from 0 (wilds) to 20 points. On each turn you get as much time as you want to concoct the highest scoring sentence possible (you don’t have to use all your cards). Once someone thinks they’ve got a great sentence, they flip the timer and the countdown begins. When time is up everyone reads their sentence – and some can be very absurd. For example:
Weird-O • George Washington • Secretly • Shaped • The Study • Of • Squeezing • Springy • Squash.
If the group okays your creation, you total up your points adding a bonus of 10 points if you were the player to flip the timer and/or if you used all 10 cards in your hand. The first player to 200 wins.
So what went wrong with the first play test? I played with competitive people. The sentences were a tad past absurd and there were far too many arguments on what should be allowed, which inhibited the game from being fun. The second group was more laid back – maybe it was the wine – but the timer stopped but people still got a couple extra seconds to perfect their sentences because they were going to come up with the “best one yet” and no one really cared. Players were striving to craft a sentence that was going to make the group laugh versus trying to win by putting together point-heavy arguably nonsensical string of words. The other thing that I believe made a difference…having a tabletop. The first group of players were strewn about out over a couch and chairs which makes it almost impossible to spread out your cards to see what you had.
Overall, You’ve Been Sentenced can be a great game if you’re playing with the RIGHT group of people – and potentially disastrous if you’re not. So find some nice, friendly, non-competitive winos and gather around the table. The game also has add-on decks so you can play with words that are more topic-specific such as: Pop Culture, Sports Country Music, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, NASA Space Terminology, and many others. I personally enjoyed the Gourmet Cuisine deck because sauce, sauced, sausage, Big Boy and Colonel Sanders make for funny sentences.
You’ve Been Sentenced Stats: