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Pass the Bomb

Pass the Bomb is a fast-paced word game for two or more players 12 and over (a junior version is available for kids 5 and on).

The "bomb" is an electronic, clock-battery-included, cartoonish-bomb-with-fuse-shaped timer that goes off randomly between 10 and 60 seconds after it is activated. I'm mentioning the bomb first because it is the first thing you see when you open the box, and it's fun all by itself. Especially the random going-off part.

However, the genius of the game is, as they say, in the cards. There are 110 of them. Printed on both sides. Each has two or a few letters on it. The game: start the bomb, turn the first card over, say a word that ends with (or starts, or contains) those letters. Then pass the bomb to the next player. Who must say a different word. Etc., etc., until the bomb goes off (through, conceivably, no fault of the player, since it's random).

Whether the letters have to be in the beginning end or middle of a word is determined by the throw of a die, which, because this game is international, is graphic. And, yes, the graphics aren't that immediately obvious. But here I niggle.

The game is engaging and elegant. The losing player keeps the card, so the cards are used to keep score. The game is fast, so everyone stays involved. The challenge steadily increases as time passes and the obvious solutions get used up, so the tension increases. The unpredictable timer, and the brevity of the time allowed are just the right touches to keep the game fun.

As for the Junior version - same bomb, but different cards, and challenge. The card set is a collection of cartoon drawings depicting different scenes. Players then have to name things that might belong in that scene. It turns out that this is easily as fun as the word game. Even if you don't have kids, Pass the Bomb Junior is most funworthy in deed.

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