Walkie Talkie requires both creativity in your wordplay and courage under fire, because it’s a real-time word association experience.
Even after a single play, though, I thought there was something there. Add in the fact that I have a lot of love for designers Sheila Santos and Israel Cendrero (the creators behind The Red Cathedral, one of the best games of 2020), and I was all-in for giving Walkie Talkie a few more spins at home.
30 Seconds Per Player
Walkie Talkie, a game that accommodates 2-8 players, includes 50 double-sided cards. On one side of each card is a color, and the other side features a letter. In the discard pile to begin play, there is a random card flipped to its colored side and another card flipped to its letter side. The draw deck is mixed up so that color and letter sides are evenly flipped to create some randomness when cards are handed out.
Each player is dealt a hand of six cards, which are kept on their dealt side, meaning you will have a mix of letter cards and color cards in your hand. A timer is set for 30 seconds per player, then someone yells go.
Everyone is playing at the same time, trying to clear their hand. Based on the discard pile, you have to play a card to its matching type (letter or color) by making an association with your played card. For example, let’s say you want to play a B from your hand, and the color discard pile is topped with a red card. You could say “blood”, or “bird” (maybe to signify a red robin), or Brody (because Brody, standing next to you in the game, is wearing a red t-shirt).
Or, you could play a black card to the color discard pile while the letter D is the face-up letter card, and yell out “Dracula”, “dreary”, or “darkness.” You get the idea—and as you would guess, you cannot say the actual color when playing the color card.
If the group is struggling, any player can yell “Roger!”, which requires everyone to flip over their cards, changing up the options in your hand. Any player could also yell “Over!”, which would require each player to pass their entire hand to their left.
(Yes, I know; the designers should have swapped “Roger” for “Over”, because in every game of Walkie Talkie someone says “shouldn’t ‘Over’ be used to flip your cards over?”)
Games end when the timer goes off. Scores can be tracked based on the number of stars on the letter side of played cards (harder letters such as Q and Z produce more points), but in my experience, everyone looks at the game as a simple proposition: play all of your team’s cards, and you are a miracle worker because this is a hard game to win!
Now that I have played Walkie Talkie a half-dozen times, here’s what I have found. The first time I played, it was hilarious. The next few times were OK, but players started to reuse word combinations. (If red is on the table and a B card is in my hand, I’m using blood every single time.) During my final plays, I found myself playing only to get enough plays in to write this article.
Walkie Talkie is hard, but it’s fun to come up with word combinations, and the playtime is certainly quick. However, would you pick this over some of the other quick card games you already have in the house? Wouldn’t UNO get more love than Walkie Talkie over the long haul?
Like every Devir product we have reviewed at Meeple Mountain, Walkie Talkie’s production is excellent. Even games that we thought of as mid-tier gaming experience always nail it on the look and feel, and Walkie Talkie is no different. The card art is slick, the instructions do a good job of providing gameplay examples, and the packaging is on point. I wish the box was half the size, but that’s a minor complaint.
My main issue with Walkie Talkie is replayability. Otherwise, this is a fun time and absolutely gets better as you add more players; you get both more chaos and more time to figure out how to match up your cards with creative wordplay.
Walkie Talkie shines best as a game to play a few times with friends you know well. Plus, it is impossible for Walkie Talkie to overstay its welcome when a six-player game only lasts three minutes!