- 504 Taboo Playing Cards
- Taboo Card Holder
- Each time the team correctly guesses a Taboo Card, they earn a point.
Additional Setup Notes
- The team not providing clues is the scorekeeper for the other team when it’s their round and vice versa. It is up to the opposing team’s “watchdog” to identify possible rule breaks or taboo words used by the other team.
- Before beginning the game, determine a fair time allotment for each round. We suggest 2 minutes to keep the game competitive.
The goal of Taboo is to score more points than other players by correctly guessing the most words based on given Taboo prompts. The catch is that players must get their team to guess prompts while avoiding the lineup of “taboo” descriptions that cannot be used. Like Charades, Taboo is a party card game that always brings fun-filled laughs.
Begin by evenly dividing the players into two groups and name each team. You could choose Team A and Team B, Team 1 and 2, whatever makes sense for the crew! Select a playing area and place the buzzer and timer in the center of the space so that all players can reach them easily. Fill the provided card holder with Taboo cards.
Select a team to go first and choose a player to be the first “Clue-giver.” The Clue-giver will draw a Taboo card from the holder and place it on the easel, facing away from the rest of their team members. The player will see a Guess Word (the prompt their team needs to guess) and a list of taboo words that they are not allowed to say while getting the team to understand the Guess Word.
The Clue-giver will start the timer once they’ve drawn their card and start providing hints. Clue-givers can do so by providing phrases, single words, or full sentences. If the Clue-giver’s team shouts out the Guess Word correctly, the Clue-giver may draw another card and play until the timer runs out. The team must guess the exact Guess Word, not something “close enough.”
Remember: The Clue-giver cannot use any of the provided taboo words on the card, which includes any part of the taboo word or abbreviations of those words. Players are not allowed to use phrases like “sounds like” or “rhymes with” to get their team to guess. Players are also prohibited from using any sound effects or gestures to demonstrate the word. If the Clue-giver is stumped on how to get their team to guess in time, they may pass by placing the card in the discard pile.
After the time has run out, pulled cards that haven’t been guessed are placed in the discard pile and removed from play. Teams will duke it out to gather the most points until all players have had the opportunity to be Clue-giver.
The game of Taboo ends once every player has been the Clue-giver at least once. Alternatively, teams may also choose to play until an agreed amount of rounds. The team with the most points from correctly guessed cards wins the game. Taboo has endless replayability and is a blast every time, just remember to give the Taboo cards a good shuffle!
Taboo Strategy & Tips
- Avoid having close family members or romantic partners on the same team to avoid unfair advantages.
- Make sure to read the Guess Word and taboo words thoroughly before starting a turn. It’s easy to forget which taboo words are prohibited, so prevent silly mistakes by giving the card a good one-over.
- A helpful tip is to use synonyms and antonyms for the provided taboo words. Using the above example, “Cartoon” could prompt the Clue-giver to say “moving picture” or “caricature” to help their teams get the right idea.
As an example, let’s say the Clue-giver draws a card and receives the Guess Word “Cartoon,” They’ll check for taboo words, which for this Guess Word, prevent the Clue-giver from saying the taboo words “Comic,” “Animated,” “Draw,” “Television,” and “Character.”
Without using any of those taboo words, Clue-givers need to get their teams to guess “Cartoon.” They could do so in infinite ways, maybe by saying, “Spongebob Squarepants is a popular Nickelodeon blank!” or “The Simpsons, The Flintstones, and Adventure Time are all examples of this word.” It could also be as simple as “Kids love watching these on Saturday morning.” Think of the players on your team and what mental alleyways would lead to the Guess Word fastest.
What happens if the other team says a Taboo word or breaks a rule?
Players can lose points from their team as a penalty for saying one of the taboo words. These lost points are awarded to the opposing team and can dramatically impact the score, so don’t slip up!
What is the maximum number of players for Taboo?
Taboo is a great game for groups of all sizes, but it is best played with an even number of people to divide the groups properly. If the teams are uneven, some players may need to be Clue-givers twice. To keep the game competitive and engaging, Taboo can be played with up to ten friends.