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Heads Up! Party Game: Rules for How to Play

Heads Up! Party Game: Rules for How to Play

Looking for a specific Heads Up! rule? | Setup  | Playing the Game | Categories | End of Game | Team Mode | FAQ | Components |

These rules are for the first edition of the game. If you are looking for the 4th edition, check out our post about how to play Heads Up! 4th Edition.


The objective of Heads Up! is to collect the most chips during the game.


  • Each player takes a headband and places it on their head.
  • Separate the four sets of category cards and shuffle each deck. Place the decks face down on the table.
  • Place the chips and sand timer in the center of the table.
  • Choose the player who will be the first guesser. The rest of the players will be the clue givers.
  • The first guesser will choose the category for the first round.

How to Play Heads Up!

The game is played over a number of rounds. To begin the round the first player will choose a category that all of the players will use for the round. At the beginning of the next round the player will choose a different category.

Each player will begin their turn by drawing six cards from the current category and placing them in their headband facing the other players. The current guesser cannot look at these cards at any time.

The current guesser then decides whether they want to use normal or challenge play. Normal play is easier but it only rewards you with one chip for each correct answer. Challenge play adds an additional rule to the current category making it more difficult, but each correct answer will be worth two chips.

When the current guesser is ready they will flip over the timer and their turn will begin. All of the clue givers will then start to give clues to the current player for the words/phrases printed on their card. The clues that they can give the player depend on the current category. They will begin with the top word/phrase on the card.

If the current guesser gets it right or the players skip they will move onto the second word/phrase on the card. If a player ever gives an illegal clue the players are forced to skip to the next word/phrase. When both words/phrases have been guessed or passed on a card the player will remove their top card to reveal the card below. This will continue until the timer runs out.

At the end of a guessing player’s turn they will receive one (normal play) or two (challenge play) chip(s) for each word/phase they guessed correctly.

Heads Up! Categories

Act It Out Card in Heads Up!

Act It Out

In Act It Out the clue givers are trying to act out the words/phrases on the cards. In normal play they can act or make sounds but they are not allowed to talk. During challenge play the clue givers are not allowed to use sound effects.

Act It Out card example
For this card the player(s) will first have to act out ping pong. After they complete that or they skip it they will have to act out tightrope walking.
Superstars Card in Heads Up!


Each card in the category will feature the names of celebrities. In the basic game the clue givers try to describe the celebrity without using any part of their name or using rhymes. In challenge play the clue givers also can’t use any other celebrity names while describing the person on the card.

Superstars Card example
To begin the player(s) will describe Neil Patrick Harris. They could say “an actor who played Doogie Howser and Barney Stintson”. Then they will move onto Howie Mandel. They could say “the host of Deal or No Deal”.
Hey Mr. DJ Card in Heads Up!

Hey Mr. DJ

In this category the clue givers are trying to get the guesser to guess the names of popular songs. The clue givers will do this by humming/whistling the song. The clue givers may not sing or talk. In normal play the guesser has to just guess the name of the song. In challenge play the guesser has to guess both the song and the artist.

Hey Mr. DJ Card example
For this card the player(s) will begin by humming “A Hard Day’s Night”. After the guesser gets it or the player(s) pass they will hum “We Are Young”.
Dynamic Duos Card Back Heads Up!

Dynamic Duos!

In this category each phrase features two things connected by the word “and”. These phrases are two things that are commonly associated with one another. The clue givers may not use the words/names on the cards and they may not rhyme. In challenge play the clue givers have to describe the pair in five or less words.

Trying to get your teammates to guess Batman and Robin as well as Hansel and Gretel.
The player(s) will begin by trying to describe Batman and Robin. For example they could say “a pair of crime fighters who fight the Joker”. The player(s) will then have to move onto Hansel and Gretel. They could describe them by saying “characters from a classic children’s book who encounter a house made of candy”.

End of Game

The game ends when all of the chips have been taken. The player who collected the most chips will win the game.

Team Mode

The team mode plays basically the same as the main game except that the players break into two teams. In this mode the teams will take turns and only members of the current team can give clues. Players will take turns between being clue givers and the guesser.

The team that collects the most chips will win the game.

Heads Up! FAQ

If you have any questions about how to play the game, leave a comment below on this post. I will try to answer any questions asked as best and as quickly as possible.


  • 6 Headbands
  • 48 chips
  • 200 cards (50 of each category)
  • Sand Timer
  • Instructions

Year: 2013 | Publisher: Spin Master | Designer: Nick Hayes

Genres: Family, Party

Ages: 8+ | Number of Players: 2-6 | Length of Game: 20-30 minutes

Difficulty: Light | Strategy: Light | Luck: Moderate

For more board and card game rules/how to plays, check out our complete alphabetical list of card and board game rules posts.