Designed by Ludovic Roudy, Bruno Sautter
Release Year: 2018 Complexity: Low
👥 3-8 Players ⏰ 20-40 min 💸 ~$25 🔗 Buy
In Just One, all players are on a team, working together to help the guesser for each round correctly identify the secret word. You will each contribute a one-word clue, but here’s the catch: any clues that are the same are discarded and not shown to the guesser. If you pick clues that are too obvious, they may get canceled and not leave enough for the guesser to have a chance. But if you get too obscure to avoid canceling, the clues may not be strong enough for the guesser to actually pick the right answer. You’ll work your way through a stack of 13 cards, and then tally up a score to see how your team did.
Just One is a very casual game, with rules that can be taught in minutes and low-pressure gameplay that is welcoming to all kinds of players. The process of coming up with a good clue is interesting, but also lets players decide how much they want to think; either really searching for that perfect clue or just writing down the first word that comes to mind.
As all the players reveal their clues while the guesser isn’t looking, it is a fun moment as you laugh at unexpected cancellations and assess whether the remaining clues are going to be enough for the guesser. Players canceling tends to be funny in general, but it can be laugh-out-loud hilarious when most of the words are canceled and the guesser is left with just one or two words that give them no chance.
Sometimes you may give a clue that is “secondary,” in that it wouldn’t lead to the secret word by itself, but with some supporting words it can really help the guesser nail down the exact word. But if these “secondary” clues are the only ones that remain, it is often very funny how unhelpful they are to the guesser.
Each player will have one or two chances to be the guesser, and it is an interesting experience as you open your eyes to see a set of clues that oftentimes feel disjointed or confusing. Occasionally, the answer will be immediately obvious, but other times the clues are coming at the word from different angles, and it takes some thinking to identify the common thread.
When the guesser is particularly unsure, they also have a decision to make. If they guess and are wrong, the team loses not only the current card, but an additional card from the deck. However, if they choose not to guess at all, they cut their losses and only lose the current card. This can be a tricky decision when you are almost sure, but it still feels low-pressure as it isn’t the kind of game where anyone is sweating too much about the final score.
Player Counts - For the canceling of clues to really be interesting, we feel you really want at least 5 players. Despite the box claiming a 3-7 player count, playing with 8 is simple since the guesser doesn’t use their dry-erase tray or marker, so the components are sufficient for 8 players as long as the guesser passes their pieces to the previous guesser.
Abstract vs. Thematic - No attempt at theme here; just a party word game.
Luck vs. Skill - While a lot of the fun of Just One is in laughing with the group, there is still plenty of room here for the team to perform skillfully in their clue selection and ability to make the mental connections to guess the correct answers.
Multiplayer Solitaire vs. Highly Interactive - This is a party game where you are constantly interacting with the table. There is a brief time while everyone thinks and fills out their own clues, but overall you are getting a highly interactive experience.
Short Setup vs. Long Setup - Setup is as simple as dealing 13 cards into a stack, picking a start player, and you are up and running.
Easy to Teach vs. Hard to Teach - Part of what makes Just One so accessible is how easy it is to teach. In fact, I joke that almost every rules question can be answered by the name of the game. “How many words can I use in my clue?” Just One. “How many guesses do I get as the guesser?” Just One.
Low Setup Variability vs. High Setup Variability - Each game will have a new set of words which is plenty to keep things fresh, but nothing that is going to make each session feel particularly unique. Memorable moments in Just One are much more emergent from the players’ clues and guesses than the variability of the game itself.
Things to Like
✅ Such an Accessible Game - Just One is one of the most accessible games that you can have in your collection. The combination of simple rules, team cooperation, and casual gameplay make it a perfect choice for when you have players that haven’t played, or are intimidated by, modern board games and you want to have a fun experience with them.
✅ Great Balance of Interesting Gameplay and Funny Moments - Some party games focus on humor while others focus on the interest of mechanisms such as clue-giving and guessing, but Just One does a great job of balancing the two. Trying to think of clues is an interesting creative challenge, and guessing is a fun exercise in word association. But out of these mechanisms emerges many humorous moments, which is great for getting the group laughing together and also helping it to feel less serious.
✅ Encourages Creative Thinking - And the creative challenge of clue-giving warrants its own callout, as it really is a strength of the game. Not only are you trying to think of a clue that best guides the guesser to the secret word, but you are also trying to get in the heads of your fellow clue-givers to avoid getting canceled. We have had some crazy moments where two players happened to both pick the same obscure clue and are absolutely shocked that they canceled. This is not only funny, but kind of a fun shared creative moment between the players who were on the same wavelength.
✅ Potential for Amazing Guesses - When clues do cancel, the guesser may often be left with just a couple of words, or simply ones that aren’t nearly as strong without the canceled clues. But this creates the opportunity for the guesser to answer correctly against all odds, and when it happens, the entire table cheers in celebration.
✅ Cooperative Play Removes Competitive Edge - That shared excitement is a great example of the benefits of Just One being a cooperative game. For some groups, removing the competitive edge is going to create a better group dynamic than having everyone going head to head. This isn’t a game that is going to end with players feeling bad that they lost, which makes it all the more accessible.
Things to Dislike
❌ Potential for Players to Feel Stupid - The biggest problem in Just One is the potential for the guesser to feel stupid. This is true of any game that requires players to guess an answer, but it is amplified a bit here because all the other players know the secret word. There are times when the clues are revealed, and the clue-givers make comments like, “Oh, these are really good, they’ll get it for sure.” However, they are forgetting that they already know the word, and from the perspective of someone who doesn’t, the answer is much less obvious. The guesser can be left feeling like they are missing something obvious simply because the clue-givers gave that impression. This can be mitigated a bit by awareness of the issue and players even reminding everyone that it always seems more obvious when you already know the word, but it is the one aspect of this game that really could sour the experience for a player.
❌ Word Bank has a Few Terrible Choices - While most of the word choices in the game are good, there are the occasional ones that have you wondering how they made it into the game. Sometimes they are just more obscure words such as “Camembert,” “Couscous,” and “Armistice,” other times they are “words” that many people wouldn’t consider a single word such as “Lightbulb” and “Bellybutton,” and other times still there are just outright typos such as “Chuchill” and “Numan.” Some of these may have been corrected in newer editions, and in the end it isn’t a huge deal because the group can decide to just pick a new word if they all agree it isn’t a good option.
❌ Option to Pass Can Be Less Fun - When a guesser is stumped, they have the option to pass instead of guessing to ensure the team doesn’t lose an extra card. This can be an interesting decision point, but it also takes some of the fun out of the game because passing is inherently less fun than making a guess. In addition, it removes the potential for the amazing guesses that we talked about earlier in situations where they are most likely to happen. However, something you could always house-rule if your group feels strongly about it.
❌ Final Score is a Less Satisfying Win Condition - Generally speaking, the endings of cooperative games are more exciting and satisfying when there is an explicit win or loss condition. Getting a final score can often feel like a bit of an afterthought on the experience. In a game as casual as Just One it isn’t really much of a problem, and you could get around it by setting a target score before you start, but some groups may find the evaluation of their performance a bit anticlimactic.
Ryan (24 Plays) - 7 Daniel (10 Plays) - 7.5
Is It For You?
If you don’t want a cooperative party game, dislike word games, or really don’t like being put on the spot to make a guess, there’s a chance Just One won’t be for you. 👎
But if you enjoy making word associations and want a game that you can play with just about anyone and have a great time, whether it be family gatherings, casual game time with people you don’t know as well, or just a core group that enjoys laughing together over a light game — there are few games that we can recommend as whole-heartedly to just about anyone as Just One. 👍