Taboo Board Game!

Name: Taboo

Number of players: The Taboo board game typically requires a minimum of 4 split into teams of two, but realistically any number can play as long as they have at least two players per team

Recommended ages: 12 and over

Average playing time: 2 minutes per round with as many rounds as you see fit


If you are looking for a noisy and silly party game, then the taboo game is a good place to start. It is a team game based around getting your teammates to guess certain words, so fans of Pictionary and Articulate will understand the strategies and frustrations involved. It is also a timed game, so you will need to be prepared to put yourself under pressure to play.

How to Play

Any number of players and teams can take part in the Taboo board game, but each round consists of each team having a turn by themselves. One person is nominated to be the speaker and has get their team to guess the words on the cards in front of them within a certain amount of time.

These words are typically nouns, sometimes objects and sometimes proper names and places. Underneath the goal word is a list of five other banned or “taboo” words that cannot be used to describe the goal word. A member of another team is designated to be a judge and stands behind the speaker so they can see the goal and taboo words. They have a squeaker to indicate when the speaker has used a banned word.

Every time a team guesses the goal word correctly, they keep the card. Any time the speaker uses one of the taboo words, the goal word card is immediately discarded and a new card is drawn. At any time, the speaker can pass on a card if they do not recognize the word or feel that their teammates do not understand their clues. When the time runs out, the team scores the difference between the number of cards they got right and the number of cards they passed or discarded. The Taboo board game continues with the next team taking their turn.

Winning the Game

Traditionally, a Taboo board game is played until a team reaches a set number of points. However, it is usually fairer to play until every person has had at least one turn as speaker to let him or her experience the panic and frustration. You can also vary things by only counting the cards that each team got right, or only counting the number of discarded cards from each round.


Each round of Taboo is essentially a word association game, so it is important to think about what sort of associations your teammates might make. It is completely within the rules to use personal references to places and things and to refer to things in the room, without pointing that would help your team to identify the goal word.

Another useful strategy is to discuss ahead of time with your team a suitable time limit for discarding a card. If you only have two minutes to guess as many words as possible, spending 30 seconds on one card is not good value for time. You should also discuss whether the decision to discard a card lies with the guessers or the speaker.

Final Thoughts

Even though a typical Taboo board game set comes with over 200 cards with over 400 goal words, you can still overplay the game to the point where you know roughly what’s available. To keep the game fresh, you can go online and find thousands of goal words, as well as blank templates to personalize the game for you and your guests.

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