Robin looked hard at the card, her nose wrinkled, and furrows appeared on her brow. She looked at the other three people around the table, and though, “oh boy, how the hell am I going to do this!”
She placed a green question mark on the T.V. screen, ‘Television program?” She nodded. Next she placed a green cube on the picture of the night sky. “Knightrider?” Paul shouted. Robin shook her head, deep in though. She then placed an exclamation mark alongside the question mark, and an associated cube on the sun. “Night and Day?” Nope, she shook her head once again. They all looked stumped, and to be honest, so was she! – Concept, is it just charades with pictures?
- Designer: Alain Rivollet; Gaëtan Beaujannot
- Publisher: Repos Production
- Year Released: 2013
- Players: 4-12
- Playing Time: 40 minutes
- Ages: 10+
- Recommended Retail Price: £26.99
Concept is a game of communication; communication other than talking, that is. Using plastic pawns you try to indicate the word(s) that you have on the card – simple!
What’s in the box?
- 1 Game board
- 110 Concept cards
- 39 Victory point tokens
- 47 Plastic tokens – Question mark; Exclamation mark; cubes.
- 1 Storage bowl
- 4 Player aids
- 1 Rulebook
The board is a nice, table fitting, 49cm square. The icons are clear and large enough to accommodate the tokens.
The cards are standard American size (56x87mm), thin coated card. They are clear to read, with minimal artwork, and are fit for purpose.
The victory point tokens are a depiction of a lightbulb, either singularly, or double. They are good quality, high-density grey board, and there are more than enough included.
The plastic tokens come in five different colours. The question and exclamation marks are very nice, coming in at around 4cm tall, and really stand out on the board. The cubes are a nice size, and quite a good weight for plastic.
The storage bowl is more than big enough to hold the plastic tokens, and is a nice addition. As is the box insert, which holds all the components nice and snug.
The player aids are a good size, and depict the icons on the board, giving clues to what they may be used to represent.
The rule book is a 4 page booklet that mostly contains examples of play. It is nicely designed, being clear to read and understand, and the examples offer the best way to learn the game play.
How does it play?
- If your familiar with the game play, feel free to ‘exclaim’ your way down to ‘What do I think?’
The board is laid; the concept cards are shuffled and placed face down; the victory points are placed alongside the board; and the plastic tokens are placed in the bowl.
Two players, adjacent to one another, are selected to be the first team. They draw a concept card, and choose a word or phrase from the list that the others will have to guess.
It is recommended for first time players to choose an easy word (in blue), the challenging word (black) require experienced players.
The question mark token is then placed to represent the word to be guessed, this should be reinforced by placing cubes of the same colour on icons, to help identify the main concept. The team members can only say, “Yes,” to indicate when players are correct, or along the right lines. No other verbal communication is allowed.
For example – If the question mark were placed on the icon of a meal, and cubes placed on the celebration icon, as well as the male and female icons – one may guess that the word is a wedding cake.
If required, an exclamation marker can be placed, along with matching cubes, to represent a sub concept.
Also, more cubes may be placed on one icon to emphasise that part of the description.
For example – If the question mark were placed upon the animal icon, and a matching cube on the aeroplane/helicopter icon, along with two cubes on the arrow icon pointing downwards, we could assume that this is an animal, that can fly, and is very small. Then add an exclamation token to the wind icon, and a matching cube to the skull icon.
What do we have – a small flying animal, let’s say a fly, and wind, plus a skull (maybe death?), could this be fly spray?
The first person to say the solution wins a double victory point token, whilst the team whose word was guessed, receives a single victory point token each.
Play continues clockwise, with the next pairing forming a team, and selecting a word.
Once all double victory point tokens have been claimed, the game ends, with the winner being the player with the most victory points.
So, what do I think?
Let’s start with the components – they’re nice. There’s nothing spectacular about them; they do the job they were designed to do, and they do it well. Everything is kept simple. The artwork for all the icons is clear, and nicely presented across the board, with everything looking uncluttered and very ‘clean’. The plastic tokens are, well… nice! They are functional, and a perfect size to handle, standing out on the board.
The player aids duplicate the icons on the board, indicating three possible uses for each one. For example – next to the mouth icon are the words, mouth, flavour, and eat. They are very useful, but it can lead to narrow thinking, forgetting that the icons can indicate a whole range of other ideas.
The concept cards are quite plain in their presentation, offering three words or phrases for each level of difficulty – easy, hard, and challenging. I found the difficulty levels to be a bit haphazard; some of the challenging words were found to be easily represented on the board, and some easy ones were actually quite difficult. But I guess this can be down to how your mind works.
This was my biggest problem with the game – you all need to be on the same wavelength to get the most out of it. This does come with practice, but those first few games can quite easily turn you against it, as everyone sits there staring at the board without a clue, either when placing the tokens, or trying to guess the words.
Get the right group though, or spend the time and effort playing it, and the game does offer an entertaining time. It can feel exhausting after spending an hour banging cubes up and down, trying to draw attention to a specific thing, and it’s best played with a timer, as some people just don’t know when they’re beaten!
The examples given in the rule booklet are a must read, and it’s best to go through them with new players. Otherwise the rules are very minimalistic, but that’s all they need to be.
You can do a variety of things with the tokens to try and get your concept over, like placing more cubes on things of greater significance, or if trying to imply more of something; for example – placing lots of cubes on the money icon could indicate something very expensive. There are many other ways to get creative, but I’ll leave you to figure these out for yourselves.
Forming a team with the person next to you was something we knocked on the head early on, as we found we were in constant conflict on how to go about things, and it just became a bore for other players.
We never use the victory point tokens either, and play just for fun (I say fun, but see below!), this is even recommended in the rules. You also don’t receive extra points for attempting harder words so, the only reason you’d attempt the harder ones, would be for the fun of it!
We did get some enjoyment out of the game, though I wouldn’t necessarily call it ‘fun’, not in the laugh out loud sense anyway! You do get a few amusing moments, when the person placing the tokens gets frustrated, and keeps banging their tokens on specific icons, trying to focus you on a specific thing. But, other than that, we found it quite dry.
This game has been nominated for many awards, and even won a few of them. Personally though, it’s not a game I would recommend, at least not to the majority of gamers.
There is a place for this though, and that’s amongst the people who enjoy doing puzzles with their family and friends, rather than playing games. It really benefits those who can think in precise ways, breaking a word or phrase down into easily identifiable segments, and being able to represent these in a clear, concise manner – not something everyone can do!
The game is enjoyable, but despite the large player count, I wouldn’t call it a party game.
Talking of player count, the 4 to 12 players it suggests can be taken with a pinch of salt. You can play this just as well with 2-players, but I would call a halt on around 8 as maximum, and even then people can feel left out if they aren’t very vocal.
The box indicates 40 minute playing time, but we always play until we’ve had enough, and to be honest, that’s usually around that time.
Age wise, I’d let anyone join in; young children sometimes have a knack with this sort of game that adults just haven’t got. I could also see this used in a classroom – it would be a useful tool in teaching different communication skills, and how each person can interpret the same thing in many different ways.
To conclude – It’s a game that isn’t going to appeal to everyone. My daughter refuses to play, and usually, if I mention playing Concept to the family, the reply is, “Let’s just play charades instead!”
Official site – Repos Production
Recommended video review – The Discriminating Gamer
Board Game Geek Page – Here