Players: 3 to 8
Game Length: 30 minutes
Best enjoyed: With 5 to 8 players up for a light and frantic quick-thinking social game
Guess the Mess is a quick-playing party game for up to 8 players that will see everyone scrambling through a pile of cards trying to find the ones that match a certain location, given to each player randomly. It’s simple to teach while keeping all players involved, making it well suited for large groups of new players.
Guess the Mess comes with 400 photographs – the Mess cards – which will be piled in the middle of the table, and over 100 Place cards. Players are each given a Place card, on which will be written a location like ‘Garage Sale’ or ‘Farm’. On a signal, all players will simultaneously start looking through the Mess pile, trying to find photos that best represent their Place card.
After a set time has passed, each player must pass their gathered pile of cards to another player, and all the location cards are shuffled and revealed – with enough added in to bring the total to 8. Players must then try to identify the place that corresponds with their received pile of Mess cards. Each player has 3 guesses, with points awarded to both the guesser and the owner of the Mess cards for correctly guessing.
Guess the Mess plays out at a frantic pace during the Mess gathering part of the game. As time grows short, players will frantically start looking for cards that have only vague connections to their Place card. The reveal of the Mess cards and their corresponding Place cards will have players laughing – you may have to find a way to connect your only clue to one of the places – a farm, a gas station, or something else entirely!
Guess the Mess is, of course, a fairly random game. Victory will depend on whether you find the cards you need, and then whether the person you hand your cards off to can work out your line of reasoning. Like most party games, however, the real goal is social interaction with a group of friends, and Guess the Mess achieves this excellently. The game also comes with a number of blank Place cards, so players can fill in their own Places to start to theme their game in whatever way they want.
Note that in the rules as written, Guess the Mess has players try to find the cards they need within 30 seconds. In practice, this is not nearly enough time and many players will be caught out without any cards that match their location, so we recommend giving players a full minute instead, such as by turning the included sand timer over twice.
Guess the Mess makes an excellent game for a broad range of players, from children to adults. The rules are easy to grasp and the game doesn’t outstay its welcome, with each full game lasting for 6 rounds, taking around half an hour in total. It comes highly recommended as a light and enjoyable, if sometimes frantic, party game – and good luck distinguishing between an attic, a garage sale and a thrift shop!