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Cunning Linguistics Party Game Preview

Cunning Linguistics Party Game Preview

We at Geeky Hobbies have reviewed quite a few party games like Apples to Apples because we generally like playing these types of games. While these games are far from strategic, I like occasionally playing a game where you can just have a good time without putting too much thought into it. Today I am looking at a new word party game Cunning Linguistics that will be released in the future. Based on the preview version, Cunning Linguistics shows a lot of potential.

How to Play | Preview | Final Verdict | Comments

How to Play

Give every player a free words card and nine word cards. Players place the free word card and their nine word cards in front of them. Players are not supposed to look at the other player’s cards. Shuffle the deck of topic cards. The oldest player is the reader for the first round.

Setup in Cunning Linguistics

The reader for the current round draws the top card from the topic deck and reads it to the other players. All of the players (including the reader) look at their cards and try to form a response for the topic card that was drawn. When forming a response the players need to use at least one of their cards but can use as many of them as they want. A player’s answer can only use one word from each word card but can use as many words as they want from the free words card. Players can modify words on the card as long as they still use the root of the word. Each player writes down their answer on a sheet of paper and passes it to the reader.

Responses in Cunning Linguistics

The topic for this round is “worst wedding gift ever”. Some possible responses include:
A drunk clown
A frisky lawyer
A thousand zucchini
An ugly backhoe

When everyone has finished writing down their answer, the reader shuffles the answers and reads them to the other players. All of the players (other than the reader) then vote for the answer that they liked the most. Players cannot vote for their own answer. Players will receive one point for each vote that their answer received. Players discard all of the cards they used in the round and draw the same number of cards from the draw pile. Each player can also discard one of the cards from their hand that they no longer want and draw a new card. Unless a player has scored enough points to win, another round is played with the reader being the next player clockwise.

The game ends when one player reaches enough points to win the game. If there is a tie another round is played to break the tie. The players can choose any amount of points needed to win the game. The recommended amount of points to win the game are as follows:

  • 3-4 Players: 8 points
  • 5-6 Players: 10 points
  • 7-8 Players: 12 points


If I had to describe Cunning Linguistics in a couple words I would say that it is advanced Apples to Apples. In Apples to Apples you play one card that best represents the topic card that was played. In Cunning Linguistics you are given a more descriptive prompt and you need to form a response by using multiple cards from your hand. While I haven’t played the game a ton at this point, I have to say that I have enjoyed Cunning Linguistics so far.

In my opinion one of the key things that a party game like Cunning Linguistics needs is the ability to create funny responses since that is how these type of games really shine. While the print and play version didn’t include all of the cards that will come with the final game, from the cards that were included there is opportunity for players to create funny responses. To illustrate I am going to share two of the funniest responses created when I played the game.

  • Why I’m No Longer Welcome At Christmas. I was drunk and tinkled in the cookies.
  • What the Three Bears really found in Baby Bear’s Bed? His girlfriend.

While the game gives you the opportunity to make your friends and family laugh, I will admit that the game does require more effort/skill than a lot of these party games. For example in Apples to Apples you just need to play one card. You don’t have to put a lot of thought into playing one card so you don’t need a lot of creativity. In Cunning Linguistics you need quite a bit of creativity, wit and a cunning use of the words on your cards to give good responses. This can be really rewarding if you have creative people but the game could suffer if your group doesn’t have a lot of creative people. Just as you can create a lot of funny responses it is just as easy to create a bunch of boring responses if you don’t have cards that work well together or players are not creative in how they use them. Since your enjoyment of the game will come down to the percentage of funny responses to boring responses, Cunning Linguistics will work much better in groups with creative players.

Since the game requires more creativity and wit, each round takes quite a bit longer than most party games. It takes time looking through all of your cards trying to find the words to create a funny response. I would probably recommend enforcing a time limit since otherwise the game can drag if you let players take as long as they want. The game recommends that all of the players place their cards face up in front of themselves and I agree. By doing so you can see all of your cards at the same time which makes it easier to form a response instead of having to shuffle through them in your hand. Since this allows everyone to see your cards though I would recommend putting up a folder or some type a barrier in front of everyone’s cards so the other players can’t see your cards. Even if you aren’t trying to cheat it is really hard not to accidentally see the other players cards which can impact your votes.

A recent trend in these type of party games, brought on by the popularity of Cards Against Humanity, is a focus on more adult themed games. I would say that Cunning Linguistics is a family game at its core but if you want you can make the game as dirty as you want. I don’t remember any words in the game that weren’t kid friendly. While the words themselves aren’t dirty, if your group is into sexual innuendo I imagine you could make the game as adult as you want. As long as your group isn’t into telling dirty jokes in front of children though, I don’t see any issues playing the game with children. The game has a recommended age of 14+ but that has more to do with the fact that younger children may have trouble creating responses from the word cards. I think children under the age of fourteen could play the game.

Like with a lot of these type of party games, I would say Cunning Linguistics is more of an experience than a game. What I mean is that it really isn’t a game that you can take too seriously. It is a game that you play to have fun and hopefully some laughs with friends and family. Scoring/winning is second to having a good time. That said I actually enjoyed the scoring system in Cunning Linguistics a lot more than a lot of these party games.

I like the scoring system for a couple reasons. First I like that all players are involved in every round. The problem with a lot of these party games is that the reader/judge usually has to just sit back and wait for all of the other players to come up with their answers. I like that Cunning Linguistics lets the reader play in the round so they don’t have to just sit back and wait for the other players. I also like the idea that all of the players (except for the reader) get to vote. I like that no player gets a unanimous vote so you don’t have to tailor your answer to one player. This also allows players who create the second best answer in a round to score some points instead of making every round winner take all. One thing I would probably recommend as a house rule though is to let the reader vote as long as the players aren’t so competitive that they will not vote for an answer just because the player is ahead or close to them in total points.

At this point the biggest “issue” I had with the game is that the word distribution on some of the cards could be a little better. What I mean by this is that the distribution of nouns/verbs/adjectives/etc could be better on some of the cards. While I was playing the game I had issues at times with not having verbs that worked well which made it hard to create answers longer than a couple words. This was not the final version of the game though and it did not include all of the game cards so I am guessing this issue will be resolved for the final version of the game.

Final Verdict

While it wasn’t the final version of the game, I had fun with Cunning Linguistics. While it is not going to be for everyone, Cunning Linguistics is an interesting twist on the Apples to Apples formula. While the game requires more thought and creativity than a lot of these games, it can really shine and lead to a lot of laughter if you have a lot of creative people. If you don’t have a lot of creative people though the game could suffer a little. Overall I enjoyed my time with Cunning Linguistics.

If you are not a big fan of these type of party games or don’t have a lot of creative people in your group, Cunning Linguistics may not be for you. If you love these type of games though and have creative people in your group I think you will really enjoy Cunning Linguistics. Cunning Linguistics is currently in the pre-production stages and the game should be produced in the near future. If you would like to find out more about the game or would like to try out the print and play version of the game you can check out the game’s official website.

This preview is based off a print and play version of Cunning Linguistics provided by the designers. Other than receiving the print and play version of the game we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this preview. This version of the game is not the final version so there may be rule changes before the final version of the game is released. Also note that the pictures in the how to play section are in black and white because I do not have a color printer but the cards in the game are in color.