Monday, August 06, 2012

Game Show Board Games: Password

Dating back to 1961, Password is probably the game show with the deepest roots to have a version aired within the past decade. The first board game version came out in 1962, followed by many, many editions over the years to come. I won't swear that my version is a "first" edition, although it does have the 1962 copyright and does not indicate a later edition as many later editions did.

The original Password was a very simple game, and thus easily emulated in a board game. Four players compete in teams of two. Although one can designate an additional person to serve as "host" to distribute the cards, the board game doesn't require this. Basically, each team has an "A" player and a "B" player, and having decided which of the twelve sets of pre-assigned word cards to use, the "A" players of competing teams are given the "A" card for that number, while the "B" players get the "B" card for that same number.  The cards are placed into the sleeves so that the first word appears through the red-filter at the top of the sleeve (red filters really were fairly common in game show board games once upon a time).

After determining which player "A" is to give clues first (a coin toss would be fine), that person attempts to get his partner to say the word which appears in the window by giving a one-word clue. If that person's partner is able to guess the word based on that single clue, he or she gets 10 points (this is what the dial is for in the picture above). If not, the potential score is reduced by a point and the opposing player "A" gets a chance to give a clue. Hyphenated words or multiple word phrases are illegal (as, obviously, are forms of the target word), and if given, a turn is forfeited and the opposing team gets a chance to take the points (reduced by one as if the previous clue was a regular incorrect guess). After the first word is successfully guessed and points are awarded, the "B" players give clues to the first word on their card (starting with the team that didn't give the first clue on the previous word). Clues alternate back-and-forth until all of the words on the cards have been exhausted, and the team with the highest score wins.

There are a few basic differences between game-play as on the original 1960s show and the board game. On the show, the first team to reach 25 points would be the winner (no matter how many or how few words that took) and would then play a "lightning round" to try to guess five words in less than a minute. The "lightning round" (one of the very first bonus rounds in game show history) is entirely absent from this game (at least, as the official rules lay things out), presumably because the makers of the game felt like they would have to include an hourglass or similar timer in the game to make that work. However, both of these differences can be easily re-incorporated into home play should the players so choose.

There were two runs of Password (one from 1961-1967, and another from 1971-1975), but the show has come back several times over the years in other variations. I'll deal with the next incarnation: Password Plus (and, more specifically, the home board game version of it) in a future post.

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