Historically, modern board gamers tend to turn up their collective noses up at party games, considering them less a game and more an activity beginning and ending on a whim or laugh or pulled groin. Any modern board game entries into the party game space are usually dominated with social deduction games (generally clones of The Resistance or Werewolf) and Apples-to-Apples knockoffs — All of which focus on deceitful or outrageous antics of the players involved. This is fine, but that also tends to make the sphere of play centered on extroverts. So, it is refreshing that simple(ish) word games such Vlaada Chvátil’s Codenames (2015), Alexandr Ushan’s Spyfall (2014), and Gaëtan Beaujannot and Alain Rivollet’s Concept (2013) are gaining some traction and bringing hobby and casual gamers together. Innovative gameplay plus a variable social aspect makes these games accessible across wide demographics. This, along with the pedigree that veteran game designers such as Leacock and Chvátil bring, is happily breathing new life into the party game space.
Knit Wit goes a long way to make itself noticed. The box screams “scrapbooking” more than “boardgaming” with bright colors, a slipcase (sweet gods, all games need a slipcase), and strange retro tarnished appearance. Opening the box evokes a craft box filled with spools, clothespins, strings, cardboard tags and faux blackboard paper. There is undeniably retro charm in the tactile and visual experience. The components are round, chunky,and meant to be touched and picked up. You want to fiddle with the components even before reading the rules. You want to put something together and create. Even the rules are hidden in a hanging pocket as if to encourage exploration of the bits before even thinking about what to do to them. The components and presentation of the components elicit an emotion of childhood glee at exploring these tools. Everything is chunky, colorful, pragmatic and nostalgic — pins, buttons, string, tags. I feel as if I jumped back into time and dove into the junk drawer of my childhood kitchen. A place that always held the promise of exploration, creation, and excitement.
The rules are simple. On the table each player lays out loops of string. On each string the players take a randomly selected word tag containing a descriptive word and attach it to the string with a clothespin. From this random placement, a net slowly emerges from each overlapping loop of string. Marking each of these overlapping areas are wooden spools. These spools represent areas are defined by different colored string which consist of one or more descriptive words. The players need to write down as many objects (defined as a person, place, or concept) that fit the descriptors for each section or spool. The more overlapping sections, the more strings attached, the more difficult it is to think up of object which the descriptors adequately describe and the crazier the concepts tend to be.
You need to write your answers down quickly. The first few people to complete their answers get a bonus button. But you also need to be original. Duplicate answers don’t score any points. You need to be creative enough to make something that won’t be duplicated but also isn’t stretching the imagination to be labeled a “knit wit” if someone challenges your answer. The three rounds of play are hectic, loud, and boisterous which is both a blessing and a curse. My issue with many party games is that they align more towards extroverted, knee-jerk personalities and less towards deliberative and introverted personalities. While Codenames can be a relaxed and calm party game (although damned if I don’t play it loud), Knit Wit, much like most knitters, only has one setting — fast and hard. Thus the discussion and, at times, arguments, over answers may be off-putting to some. Knit Wit also plays better as an activity with less focus on the actual points and winning. Placing more emphasis on creating an atmosphere or experience will likely be more enjoyable to casual gamers. If you are looking to win, maybe find something else. If you are looking to laugh and argue, then go with Knit Wit.
Knit Wit is a great party game for your personal or library collection. The components are simple, sturdy, and easily replaceable. The box is sturdy and eye-catching. The game-play is so simple you could explain it in less than 30 seconds and it is easy to demo at a service point. For a game-night, it may not be the best thing to pull out for veteran gamers (they are probably better served by Codenames or Spyfall) but if you have a family game night or group for seniors, or if your group does not like heavily thematic games, this is an easy pick.