Review: Cue Me!
Publisher: The Games Gang, Ltd
Year: 1989

The cover of cue me is just a talk bubble with CUE ME! written in it

how we met

Cue Me! still has a price tag on it, and I have no idea how, when, or why I found it. This is not incredibly unusual, but it is unusual. I enjoy looking for games, finding them, inventorying them, all the steps. So when this kind of confusion happens I do not expect to enjoy the game. Instead I expect to be bitter about having dragged it around for who-knows-how-long.

I mean, I don’t even recognize the type of price tag on Cue Me! As far as I know I might have been sitting on this game, like it was an egg, for eight years. Then one day it was time to play.

how it plays

In Cue Me!, players are separated into teams of two players each. On a team’s turn, one player rolls the number die. This points the player to which word on the card they are trying to get their teammate to guess. One side of the die has a STAR on it. If a player rolls the STAR, they can choose any of the words on the card for play including the BONUS MESSAGE, which will add two more spaces to your regular board move if the turn is successful.

The player tells their teammate the category of the word they are guessing, like Person, Place, Thing or Event and whether it is a proper name.

Example cards show words like teenager, freeway, raincoat and funeral
Here’s some of the cards you may encounter during play

Next the player rolls the four letter dice. They can then give a one to four word clue about their word, using each letter they rolled only once. A STAR on one of the letter dice means you can choose any letter you wish for that die. A couple of sides include letter combinations like J/K, and either or both letters can be used for these rolls. You can’t say any part of your secret word in your hints.

An example roll of the dice showing letters P, W, A and J/K
So if I am trying to get my partner to guess “teenager” I might say Person, Junior, Kid, Acne and I can’t think of anything for W

But wait, it gets harder. Each turn lasts only two minutes, you can only roll the letter dice three times, and your teammate can only guess once per roll! It’s so difficult!

If a team is successful they move their pawn according to the rules below. If they land on a space with an “F” on it, that is like an all-play and the same player immediately takes another turn where all other players are allowed to participate in guessing. In this Free-for-all / all-play, the player giving clues still only gets three rounds, but all players can guess as many times as they like without penalty.

If a player is able to successfully guess their teammate’s secret word then they move their collective pawn accordingly:

  • Correct on first attempt – 4 spaces
  • Correct on second attempt – 3 spaces
  • Correct on third attempt – 2 spaces
  • ONE-ON-ONE which is correct with one clue word, one guess – 8 spaces
  • BONUS MESSAGE – 2 spaces added to any of these
  • Winning an all-play when it was your team’s turn – 8 spaces
  • Winning an all-play when it was not your team’s turn – 4 spaces
Overview of the board with lots of greens and purples and some spaces have F on them
Overview of the board. The star spaces near the end require the team to get a successful ONE-ON-ONE clue.

In order for a team to get to Finish, they must win a ONE-ON-ONE. The first team to successfully reach Finish, wins Cue Me!

how it went

Normally I am partnered with Bill for team games, but this time we wanted to have the turns go around the table easily while switching teams each time, so Keri and I were kitty corner and on the same team.

Our pawns during play, one white pawn and one old rusty screw
There was an old, rusty screw in the box and the boys decided to use that as their pawn
Components including the timer, the pawns, one number die and the four letter dice
.. and not because we were missing pawns

Cue Me! is a good example of one of those party games where I looked forward to it being my turn. Whether I was giving clues or guessing, it was really fun and required all of my attention.

The rule that only one guess is allowed per roll was nasty and cruel. It puts so much pressure on the clue-giver because you want to make sure you really squeeze out all the value you can from your roll, but as the guesser you can’t just make some wild guess. It’s a very tense 2 minutes, on both sides.

Another example dice roll showing letters J/K, L, I and L
So say you have to get your partner to guess the word “raincoat” – which clues would you give?

As an example, in one of our turns I was trying to get Keri to guess the word “Heart.” I can’t remember all of the letters I rolled, but I gave her the clues “Physiological” and “Red.” Then I was out of ideas, and I really wanted to roll again so I said, “I’m going to need a guess.” And she was like WTF but then she guessed heart! And that was 4 spaces! And it really warmed my [physiological red] to nail that one.

The categories seem off sometimes. That is probably to be expected in a vintage game, and it becomes clear to all as play continues. But that is worth noting as one of the many challenges you face in making a guess on your turn.

One of the most interesting things about Cue Me! is that you never really feel comfortable. Even if you happen to do really well, you are going through short, 2-minute periods of stress. And even if you happen to fall behind in play, you are still looking forward to that brief, shining moment where you can maybe get a really amazing guess. Even if it doesn’t catch you up to other teams.

A shot of our play
A shot of our play. The screw was leaving gross bits behind it the whole time. Playing with a rusty, old screw: 1 out of 5 stars

Bill and John maintained a pretty steady lead throughout our play. It probably took three or four turns before they could get a successful ONE-ON-ONE near the end, so this is a fair catch-up time for other teams. But they were able to take that lead right into the ultimate victory. And Bill and John won Cue Me!

play or pass

Play all day. Cue Me! is really difficult and requires concentration and quick thinking. But I think it does such a nice job of balancing the inevitable hopelessness you feel at times with the absolute pride you feel when a guess goes your way. I tend to be a big fan of micro-wins within gameplay and Cue Me! delivers that in spades. Whether you win the game or not, you may just really enjoy the journey.