Review: Spontuneous

Hardcore party gamers who enjoy music and singing are probably familiar with the game Encore, which has been around (in various editions) since 1989. Basically it's two teams, draw a card, read a word on the card, the teams go back and forth racking their brains to come up with - and sing - songs with that word in the lyrics. It's a fun game with the right crowd, but in my view, it has a fatal flaw: if you're playing with people with a mind for retaining and recalling lyrics, the game can go on for hours - and no party game is fun for THAT long.

Enter SPONTUNEOUS, a new singing party game released last year. The inventor of Spontuneous had never played Encore when he designed the game, yet Spontuneous solves the "Endless back and forth song battle" by limiting the challenge to one singer: either whoever can belt out a song first, or if no one can, the "Tunesmith" who came up with the challenge word ("Trigger word") must prove there is a real song with that word in it. By singing at least five words of it, one of which must be the trigger-word. As in Encore, inventing a song is prohibited, but unlike in Encore, the rules recommend making any chosen song "commonly known or recognizable." (More on that in a minute.)

As with any singing game, you will need some players who aren't afraid to sing. You don't have to be Edith Piaf, but at least be Bob Dylan - get something of a melody out, even if it's off-key and your voice is cracking. For the shy, Spontuneous still works wonderfully well with family groups and close friends. An interesting facet of the game is how different people's experience of music is - I recently played with four other players, all women, who were experts in show tunes, country music and hymms and spiritual music. I myself am based in quirky early-1990s singer-songwriters. So as you can guess, we were stumping each other quite a bit. This is where the balance of the "commonly known or recognizable" song rule comes into play. If you disregard this rule, a lot of stumping will happen and multiple people will end up at the finish line and the game will never end. If you follow the rule too closely, and the trigger words trigger songs that are TOO easily thought of, the same problem could occur. As the rules say, "Players judge; majority rules. " The game FAQs suggest that players should remember it's only a game, and invites them to use Google to settle disputes "if you must."

I have been waiting for a game like Spontuneous for a long time. It solves the "Endless battle" problem and makes for a quick and fun romp around the board. The fact that it's a race to be the first to get a song out (rather than a long silent period of time with everyone thinking) makes it more fast and fun. There are even cards that cause random things to happen when you land on a "music note" space. I can heartily recommend Spontuneous to anyone who loves the joy of music and singing. If you've ever burst into song when someone said a certain word, you know where the inspiration for - and fun heart and soul of - Spontuneous comes from.


  1. If you'd like to check out Spontuneous for yourself, visit their website at


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