Published on March 17th, 2014 | by Nicole Jekich2
Wordplay with You’ve Been Sentenced
For all our authors at Across The Board Games, English classes are a far-off memory. However cramped school desks and hot cafeteria lunches are not needed to enjoy You’ve Been Sentenced. This game will challenge a player’s skills and creativity in the English language. You’ve Been Sentenced is a multi-award-winning game from McNeill Designs for Brighter Minds: a company with a focus on creating educational games for students and teachers. This is a great educational, casual and customizable game built for replayability. I typically don’t buy or play games in this genre but I now have a new perspective on educational and word games after playing You’ve Been Sentenced.
The pentagonal playing cards and box are a unique feature of You’ve Been Sentenced and they offer many word options on each card. The quality of the box is a bit fragile compared to the other game boxes on our shelf. You’ve Been Sentenced is clearly a single cut box that has been folded and secured into its current shape. The additional corners are unfortunately more easily bruised and torn. Also because the box material isn’t rigid, I do not recommend putting games on top of this one. We’ve already experienced the roof of the box dipping down and tearing slightly from the weight of its own expansions.
In addition, there is a scoring pad, mini pencil and a sand timer in the base set. The sand timer is a feature which I feel is on its way out of family board games as digital timers and stopwatch apps on cell phones are just as convenient.
The 540-cards in the base game are of excellent quality and even with all the shuffling, rearranging and dealing they didn’t show any wear. The base game can easily provide hours of fun and thousands of word combinations before players see repeats or feel the need to add additional cards. We were fortunate enough to receive all six add-on packs from McNeill Designs for Brighter Minds and can vouch that each expansion adds 80 more unique cards worth the price.
Themes range from the casual Pop Culture and Sci-Fi/Fantasy to more challenging packs like the official NASA Space Terminology pack. Even more so than those lovable family games like Pictionary, Cranium, etc- this game comes with so many cards that no one game will ever be the same. Kids and parents will definitely get their money’s worth from You’ve Been Sentenced.
You’ve Been Sentenced is a sentence-building game where players compete by trying to create the most complex and longest sentence from a random hand of cards. Each round a player draws ten cards and then does their best to create a sentence using their cards. The first person to complete their sentence must start the sand timer and allow their peers to finish their sentences before time runs out.
Once everyone has a completed sentence, the player who finished first reads their sentence aloud and starting clockwise the other players present their sentences. If at any point players feel a certain sentence doesn’t make sense, the player whose sentence is up for debate must defend their sentence.
After sentence issues are resolved, players tally points as listed under the used words in their sentence. Play continues as old cards are discarded and ten more cards are drawn. It is recommended to play You’ve Been Sentenced until a player reaches 200 points; however players can decide together when to stop.
Gameplay is simplistic enough so players can stop, pause and resume play without any confusion and it also is a great game to add house rules. There are suggested variations in the rules to expand the options of this game even more and includes non-competitive and cooperative options as well.
At first I wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy You’ve Been Sentenced. I am a strong “word search puzzle” player, but my creative writing, grammar and sentence structure skills are my weakest language skills. I mostly start sentences with “the” or the subject and I never had great writing skills worthy of teacher attention, nor have I gained anything but average scores on English papers. I am very glad that I played You’ve Been Sentenced because even I (an adult, college graduate and contributor to a blog) am learning new skills and challenging my understanding of language in a way that I don’t regularly do anymore.
This isn’t a game that most of our contributors would voluntarily take off the shelf and play very often with friends. It’s an educational game that focuses around learning how to correctly construct sentences. It is difficult for a grounded game like You’ve Been Sentenced to garner attention from the gaming community because it is competing with high production games with colorful art and detailed miniatures. What You’ve Been Sentenced has done is push the boundaries of educational game design past flash cards. It has successfully made a game about English that is more accessible to children, students and educators looking for a new way to improve their English skills.
As an educational tool, You’ve Been Sentenced excels and lives up to its awards and praise. As a casual party game among adult friends (who are the usual game testers here at Across The Board Games) it fell a bit flat with the more “gamer” section of our group. Gamers who enjoyed the game tended to be the ones with strong language skills to start with, or an interest in language. Much like those sentence-building fridge magnets, You’ve Been Sentenced is a game that I would take out every now and again to challenge myself or the right group of people.
I feel that every classroom, after-school program and household with grade school children should add this game to their collection. You’ve Been Sentenced is a learning aid for all ages and challenged my brain in a way that I need to exercise more. The add-ons or expansion packs add even more fun subjects of card combinations. All are available for purchase on Amazon: Sports Highlights, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Gourmet Cuisine, NASA Space Terminology, Pop Culture and the most challenging Brain Buster pack. To view more games from this McNeill Designs for Brighter Minds, visit their official site.