Growing up one of my favorite board games was Guess Who?. While the gameplay is really simple and straight to the point, the game was still really fun to play. There was just something really satisfying about asking a good question that significantly reduced the number of remaining options. I really enjoyed the game when I was a kid, but as you grow up you start to realize that the game is somewhat broken when you analyze it critically. In fact there is a strategy to Guess Who? which guarantees that you will win within six turns. Once I figured out the optimal strategy for winning, I haven’t felt the same about the game. Guess Who? still remains popular to this day though, which has lead to quite a few spinoff games. One of these games was the Guess Who? Card Game first released back in 2018. The Guess Who? Card Game does a good job translating the classic board game into a quick card game that can be kind of fun, even if it has many of the same issues as the original game.
Before I started playing the Guess Who? Card Game I was kind of curious how the game would translate to a card game. In some ways the idea of making it into a card game is natural. There is nothing about the board game that couldn’t be made into a card game. In practice the Guess Who? Card Game is basically a straight conversion of the board game into a card game. Once again the objective is to figure out the other player’s secret character. This is done by asking them yes or no questions about their character’s appearance. Depending on how they answer, you can use the information to narrow down the identity of their secret character.
If you would like to see the complete rules/instructions for the game, check out our Guess Who? Card Game how to play guide.
I was kind of surprised by how straightforward the translation of Guess Who? Card Game was. The gameplay is exactly the same as the original game. Basically the card game replaces the gameboards for a set of cards that each player uses. Instead of flipping down the windows on the gameboard, you will turn over cards to eliminate a potential option. If you have ever played Guess Who? before, your feelings towards that game will translate to the Guess Who? Card Game. Therefore you likely already have a pretty good idea on whether you will enjoy the game.
Basically the Guess Who? Card Game feels like it was designed to be a travel edition of the original game. The game fits into a small box unlike the original game. I like some things about this, but there are other things that I didn’t like. On the positive side the amount of space the game takes up is appreciated. This will make it much easier to bring along when traveling, and it also reduces how much space it will take up in your house. I missed the classic gameboards though. There is something oddly satisfying about flipping down the pictures after you have cleared a character. Flipping over cards just doesn’t have the same feel to it.
While the gameplay is exactly the same as the original game, there are a few things that do differ. Probably the biggest change comes with the characters included with the game. I will be honest and say that I haven’t played any of the newer versions of the original game. I am mostly familiar with the late 1980’s early 1990’s version of the game, as that is the one I played as a kid. The characters included with the game have changed over time. The original game is criticized for the fact that there was little diversity in the game. The original game only had six women/girls in the game, and only one character that wasn’t white. I am guessing that this has been fixed in newer versions of the game.
The Guess Who? Card Game is much more diverse than the original game. Half of the characters are women and the racial diversity is much better. I applaud the additional diversity included in the game. This is something that the game needed to address.
That said it does lead to some problems for the gameplay. The original game was designed around the number six. Most distinguishing characteristics in the game had six characters that would match it while 18 wouldn’t. For example there were six women/girls and 18 men/boys. Other examples included six characters with beards, six with hats, six bald characters, and so on. The game was designed in this way so most questions players would regularly ask would on average eliminate at most a fourth of the remaining options. This would extend the game and force players to ask more questions.
While I like the additional diversity and it was totally needed, this does kind of disrupt this aspect of the gameplay. Instead of usually only being able to eliminate around a fourth of the options with each question, in the Guess Who? Card Game you can usually pretty easily eliminate half of the potential options with each question. You don’t even need to use my Guess Who? strategy to quickly reduce your potential options. When you add in that there are less characters to begin with (20 versus 24 in the original game), this means that games will play really fast. You could easily finish a game within just a couple minutes. Usually you only need to ask four questions to figure out the other player’s character. I don’t know how, but the game should have tried to add more diversity to the game without breaking the main gameplay.
Ultimately if players put any thought into what questions they ask, the players will eliminate characters at basically the same rate. This means that neither player really has a chance to get ahead of the other player unless they make a really lucky guess. Pretty much every game will end with one player having two options left while the other has one or two left. This kind of eliminates a lot of the suspense from the game. On top of this with the character cards being face up on the table, the other player knows exactly who you are still considering. When your opponent is down to one or two cards left, you should really consider just making a guess as you likely will lose otherwise.
This is one of the main reasons why I was disappointed with the Guess Who? Card Game doing nothing to actually change the gameplay. While I like the Guess Who? gameplay in theory, it has issues. I was really hoping for a game that finally found a way to fix some of the game’s problems. Unfortunately this was not the case when it comes to the Guess Who? Card Game. The game has the same issues as the original game, and in some ways introduces some of its own. I am not entirely sure how you could fix some of Guess Who?’s problems, but I wish I could find a game that would. I was a big fan of the game when I was a kid, and I think it has the framework to still be a good game. Something needs to be changed/tweaked for that to happen though.
In theory I liked the premise behind the Guess Who? Card Game. I ultimately thought it was probably worse than the original game though. The “mystery” ends far too quickly and it just feels like the game plays itself. You can basically ask the same questions each game and end up in the same place. This leads to the game feeling kind of dull. Pretty much every game plays out in the same way. While I like the portability of the card game, some of these side effects lead to a less satisfying game. If I wanted to play Guess Who?, I don’t really see a reason why I wouldn’t just play the board game instead of the card game.
While I didn’t like the Guess Who? Card Game as much as the original game, this doesn’t mean that it is a terrible game. Many of the best things about the original game also apply to the card game. The core gameplay is still pretty fun. It is still satisfying when you ask a question that allows you to get rid of a lot of options. The game is still really easy to play. It can be taught to new players in a couple minutes at max. The rules are about as straightforward as possible where almost anyone could play the game. I think children and families in particular could really enjoy the game. If you enjoy the original Guess Who?, I see no reason why you wouldn’t enjoy the card game.
As for the game’s components, they are basically what you would expect. The game only includes cards. The cards are typical for a Hasbro card game. They are of a decent thickness where they should last if you take decent care of them. The card artwork is straight to the point, but I thought it was pretty good. I do wish the game included at least 24 characters like the original game though. Otherwise the components are pretty much what you would expect.
Ultimately I don’t know what to say about the Guess Who? Card Game. In many ways the game is exactly what you would expect from a card game version of the original game. The gameplay hasn’t changed outside of using cards instead of the gameboards. This allows the game to be much smaller and easier to bring along while traveling. The gameplay hasn’t changed, but the new characters have tweaked how the game plays. I applaud the additional diversity, but it does adversely impact the gameplay. Instead of having a lot of questions that only eliminate a few options, most questions will cut your options in half. This leads to the game being much quicker where both players will eliminate options at basically the same pace. Ultimately I found the Guess Who? Card Game to be worse than the original game. It is still kind of fun to play and is really easy to play. I just don’t really see a reason to play this version of the game as I would rather play the normal Guess Who?.
If you aren’t a big fan of Guess Who? or don’t care about the smaller size/travel-ability, I don’t really see a reason to purchase the Guess Who? Card Game over the original game. If you are a big fan of the original game though and want a game that works better while traveling, I could maybe see picking up the Guess Who? Card Game.
Guess Who? Card Game
Year: 2018 | Publisher: Hasbro | Designer: NA | Artist: NA
Genres: Deduction, Family
Ages: 5+ | Number of Players: 2 | Length of Game: 5 minutes
Difficulty: Light | Strategy: Light | Luck: Light-Moderate
Components: 40 Face cards (20 of each color), 20 Mystery cards, instructions
- Keeps most of the elements that are enjoyable about the original game.
- Comes in a much smaller package meaning it is much easier to bring with you while traveling.
- Way too easy to eliminate characters which leads to most games ending in a couple turns.
- Doesn’t really do anything to differentiate itself from the original game.
Recommendation: For fans of the original Guess Who? that want a card game version.