5 Second Rule board game review

I’m kind of a board game snob. I play those games you probably haven’t heard of, aggressively roll my eyes when someone mentions Monopoly and scornfully refer to Connect 4 as a solved game.

To put that in perspective, imagine someone tells you they love videogames, then mention that their favourite one is Windows 3D Pinball. Alright that’s a bad example, Windows Pinball kicks ass, but you get my point.

So when the mass-produced, available-at-Exclusive-Books board game 5 Second Rule showed up at the NAG Office for review, I wasn’t expecting much. I was wrong.

As a game concept, this one is about as simple as it gets, and falls firmly in the teach-it-to-your-grandma game space, with less instructions than microwave popcorn.

One player reads the question card, one flips the timer, and one poor sucker has five seconds to answer the question. Every question asks you to list three things – South African cricketers, country names starting with B, things you’d find in a bathroom.

This isn’t a trivia game – you don’t need to know what the capital of Peru is or remember the name of that PJ Powers song. ANYONE can answer these questions, it’s just more about if you can get your brain to spit out the answers in that all-too-narrow five second window. There’s no intellectual feelbad like you can find in the likes of 30 Seconds (how can you not know the capital of Turkey?!), and since there are no teams this won’t destroy nearly as many relationships.

The game throws in some other gimmicks like cards you can play to skip a question or have someone else answer it, but these felt tacked on and I’d actually recommend playing without them; they don’t really feel in the “spirit” of the game. It also commits the cardinal board game sin of having a spot on the board that has you skip a turn, which you should absolutely never play with – turn skipping is the biggest no-no in board game design.

I’ll confess, I’ve had a lot of fun with this game. Several of the cards are very open to sexual innuendo for manchildren (present company included), and having everyone stare you down while you spout panicked nonsense is hilarious. The game absolutely shines at higher player counts (it plays 3-6 out of the box), as there are more people to laugh at your demise.

I’d be remiss if I did not mention the incredible timer – an enormous slide whistle that has several little metal balls spinning down a plastic spiral. Once they all hit the bottom, your five seconds are up. It adds to the fun of the whole experience while also being pretty damn effective as a timer.

The advantage of a game this simple is that it’s incredibly versatile. You can play it somewhat seriously and make a serious competition out of it, or you can go for the most hilarious answers and hopefully the other players deem them funny enough to give you the point. You can play this at the Christmas lunch table with the family for some wholesome fun, or as a drinking game where the answers get dirtier with every shot. The game has enough plastic pawns for six players, but there’s really nothing stopping you from adding more people to the game using whatever you want as markers.

For a hardcore gaming group, maybe this isn’t the type of thing you’re looking for. But for a hilarious and inexpensive (R295) Christmas gift that you can play with literally anyone and will surely be a hit with the family, I’ll give this a solid recommendation. You can find this one most places you’d expect to, but if you want to support a local hobby game store I highly recommend Timeless Board Games.

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