Board Game Review: Poetry for Neanderthals

From the same team who came up with the bonkers Exploding Kittens, Poetry for Neanderthals is another brilliant, easy to play game that causes unimaginable stress and lets you smack people round the head with a giant inflatable club. If you can grunt out some single syllable words and try and make some sense, you can play this. Essentially, it’s the perfect game for the teenagers in your life.

There really isn’t much to the explanation of how this works, but here goes. Players are split into two teams (assuming there’s 4 or more of you, which there really should be for the best fun) and consist of one poet and a set of guessers. The poet picks up a card and tries to explain to their team what’s on the card. Easy enough, except as a Neanderthal poet, you only know words of one syllable. So if you need to describe a rabbit, you can’t say “a small fluffy animal” because the last two words have too many syllables. Instead you’d need to say something like “small ball of fur, can be a pet, likes to eat long thin veg” and hope for the best. Easy enough, right? Well yeah, sure. Except there’s one big extra lump of stress lingering inches behind you – the NO Stick.

Make a mistake and accidentally mention “carrot” in your rabbit description, and someone on other team, who’s stood right next to you, can shout and smack you round the head with the big inflatable club. Believe me, if you didn’t realise you’d made a mistake it can really catch you unawares. If that happens the other team get your card, and you’re onto the next one. All the while a sand timer ticks down, your face gets progressively more sore as you make more mistakes, and you have the potential of getting stuck in a panick-mistake-club cycle. Truly horrifying. If you think it sounds easy, I’ll try the next paragraph of this review using only words you’d be allowed to use.

What I found freaked me out the most was the threat that if you did it wrong, that club and your head would start to be friends a lot (this is already getting tough…). The one who held the club can stand right next to you, close to the point that you can feel them there, and in a place where all of your small wrongs can be pounced on and end up with a smack round the head that will make you jump as much as it makes you scream with shock.

There. Even typing it was surprisingly stressful.

Each card you pick up also had two difficulties of things to guess, so you might get your team to guess “fence” for a single point, and then bank that card to add to your score. But if you think you can actually get them to guess “electric fence”, then you’re on for three points instead of one. It’s a risk, especially with time ticking down against you, but if you think your grunted words can lead them to the more difficult word or phrase, that’s for you to try.

So Poetry for Neanderthals… it’s a brilliant laugh, there’s no doubting that. It’s playable with kids (our 7 year old loved it), the big inflatable club adds a brilliantly violent element to the game (our 7 year old loved it) and the panic that gets induced by the mixture of timer and potential clubbing is enough to make even the strongest of nerves start to crumble a little. The best thing of all? It’s around the £20 mark, so even if it only comes out for 20 minutes at a time when you want a bit of family comedy, it’s not going to break the bank.

Frankly, it’s brilliant. Or, in Poetry for Neanderthals language: game good, buy game and laugh with friends, don’t get hit by big stick, it scare you and you scream like small girl.

This game was provided for unbiased review by Asmodee UK.

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