Review: 5 Second Rule

5 Second Rule is a simple and fun party game from Patch Products. The name of the game recalls the tongue-in-cheek theory that it's valid to eat a food item that's fallen on the floor - as long as it remains on the floor for no longer than 5 seconds. The game plays on this idea in its tag line "Just Spit it Out!" - referring to the game mechanic of blurting out answers as quickly as possible, no matter what ends up being said.

That's the core of what can make the game funny; the intense (though not unpleasant) time pressure of the five-second timer (a fun and unique spiral tube with a "zoop!" sound effect and ball bearings that roll from top to bottom in about five seconds) can cause uninhibited players to come out with answers that are by turns clever, creative, outrageous or just plan ridiculous. Sometimes one's train of thought will lead one's brain down the wrong path: Name three Summer Olympic events. "Javelin; Decathlon, uh..... Triathlon?" Sometimes two of the items are easy, one is more challenging: Name three Pepsi products. "Pepsi, Diet Pepsi.... Mountain Dew." Sometimes there are open-ended questions that open the door to a puckish sense of humor, as one of my female players found: Name three ways to make a good first impression. "Wink; Smile; Show your boobs." Another female player revealed that one of the three things she liked to do on a weekend was "Kiss my honey." Sometimes if you know very little about a subject, you can find a way to a simple and winning answer anyway: Name three Pixar movies. "Toy Story 1, 2 and 3."

5 Second Rule has the essential prerequisites of a good party game: it's simple and can be explained in less than one minute. It has a good level of challenge and most of the cards are neither too easy or too difficult (my players found the yellow sides of the cards to be more challenging and interesting than the red sides, but they are not intended as such by the game makers). And there is an interesting psychological subtext involved as to what players shout out and what causes them to do so. Players who "bring the funny" in their responses, open the door to running jokes for the rest of the night - in this case, jokes about making a good first impression. Families will appreciate the game as well, as all the cards are family-friendly and should be manageable for all players age 10 and up.

My players and I liked 5 Second Rule. I found it far superior to a similar game I saw recently called Name Five. The challenges on the cards are much more balanced and there's no random dice rolling or needless game board (Interesting note: 5 Second Rule appeared in an earlier edition from University Games UK which included a game board with a scoring track. The Patch edition wisely does away with the unnecessary board and instead players keep as points the cards they successfully answer, as in Apples to Apples).

5 Second Rule will play best in a group of uninhibited, relaxed party gamers who aren't afraid to shout out something funny. One player noted it could be great for car trips, since there's no board.

Learn more at Patch's Web site.