This Cross Clues review was made after playing the game about 15 times.
What is Cross Clues?
Cross Clues Rules Overview
In Cross Clues, you work together to fill in as much of the 3×3 (easy), 4×4 (medium), or 5×5 (hard) grid with clue cards. You do that by finding connections between words on the vertical and horizontal axes.
There are no turns in Cross Clues. Instead, everyone will have one clue card in their hand and whoever thinks they have a good clue for their card’s coordinates will say a one-word clue. For example, if you have the D4 card and the D word is Animal and the 4 word is Forest, you might say “Deer” as your clue.
When you give a clue, it’s up to everyone else at the table to work together to figure out where that card goes. If they get it right, you put the card in its spot in the grid and draw another card. If they get it wrong, you discard it face-down and draw another card.
After you’ve gone through all of the clue cards (or the five-minute timer runs out in the real-time version), you’ll get a score based on how many cards are in the grid.
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- What I like most about Cross Clues is that everyone is always a clue-giver and clue-guesser. You have to be thinking of a connecting clue for your words, but you also have to be ready to stop to help solve someone else’s clue. That little twist is great, especially when using the timer, and it’s what most differentiates it from other cooperative word games.
- Another advantage that Cross Clues has over other word games is that there’s really no downtime. Since you’re simultaneously a clue-giver and a clue-guesser, you’re always doing something from beginning to end.
- This game has plenty of replayability. There are 50 word cards with four words on each card, so you can easily avoid getting repeat setups.
- I’ve played Cross Clues at the two, three, and four-player counts, and it played well at all of those counts. I think it’d work just as well with five and six, and maybe even more.
- Cross Clues has just a handful of rules, so it is extremely easy to learn how to play.
- One downside of only having one clue card in your hand at a time is that you can get stuck with a card for most of the game if you can’t think of a useful clue. You still have the opportunity to help solve other people’s clues, but it can feel bad when you’re unable to add to the grid. Anyone who struggles with word association can start to feel like the weak link while playing this game.
Cross Clues is a very clean design with simple rules and fun gameplay. I enjoy the challenge of trying to find connections between the words and I really like the tension that builds when playing the real-time version. This is yet another word game that I know I can break out with just about any group and be confident we’ll have a good time.
Cross Clues isn’t my favorite co-op word game (that’d be Codenames Duet), but it’s possibly the best one for families to play. I played this with my nieces (ages 8 and 11) and they absolutely loved it. So, I’d definitely recommend it as a family game, and I also think it’d work great as a filler game for fans of word games.
Update: Cross Clues was added to our Best Party Board Games list!
Update 2: It’s also on our Best Co-op Games for Kids list!