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  • 432 Cards
  • 30 second timer
  • score pad

Object of the Game

To score the most points by collecting names in 3 separate rounds.

A game is played using a set of randomly chosen name cards. Each team gets 30 seconds to guess as many names as possible, with one player giving clues to his teammates. Players can always use sound effects and pantomime, but speech becomes more restricted as the game progresses:

  • In Round 1 - Cluegivers can say anything.
  • In Round 2 - Cluegivers can say only one word.
  • In Round 3 - Cluegivers can't say anything

Each round ends when all names in the Deck of Fame have been guessed. All names are put back into the Deck for the next round. High score after the third round wins.


Divide into teams with team members sitting across from each other. Time's Up! works best when played in teams of two players each. (Three teams of two, for example, is better than two teams of three). With more than ten players, larger teams will be necessary. Choose a player to keep score.

Decide whether you'll be using the YELLOW or the BLUE names. Make sure everyone knows which color you're using! Do not mix colors within the same game.

Deal out 40 cards evenly among all players (for a longer game, deal out more cards). Then deal two more cards to each player. The rest of the deck won't be used and should be put back in the box.

Each player may look at their cards and discard two of them. (Players should not reveal their cards to each other). All remaining cards are then shuffled together and stacked face down in the center of the table. This stack is the Deck of Fame.

Choose a starting team to take the Deck. The next team clockwise from the starting team takes the timer and will use it to time the other team's turn.

Game Play

Round 1

Almost anything goes with cluegiving but passing is not allowed. On each team's turn, one member of the team is the Cluegiver and the rest are the Guessers. (On successive turns, the Cluegiver will be a different member of the team).

The Cluegiver takes the Deck, draws the top card from it, and looks at the YELLOW or BLUE name depending on which color everyone agreed upon at the start. Once the Cluegiver has looked at the name, the next team says, "Go!" and starts the timer.

The Cluegiver begins giving clues to his teammate(s). The Cluegiver can say or do almost anything: he can sing, hum, point, charade, give full descriptions of the person, etc.

The only restrictions are:

  • No part or variant of the name can be used in the clue. Ex: You can't use "Willy" or "Bill" to get the Guesser to say WILLIAM.

  • "Rhymes with" clues are acceptable, provided the Cluegiver doesn't actually say the rhyming word. Ex: "Sounds like the animal that oinks" would be OK, but not "Sounds like pig".

  • No spelling of the name is allowed, nor is any clue designed to give away specific letters of the name (the only exception is for names using initials, such as H.G. WELLS, although for such names the cluegiver is still forbidden to say the initials outright).

The Guessers try to guess the name on the Cluegiver's card. The Guessers can make as many guesses as they wish; there is no penalty for a wrong answer. Guessers must say the full name as printed on the card, although words in parentheses are optional.

For example, "Nixon" would not be sufficient for RICHARD NIXON, but "Renoir" would be enough for (PIERRE AUGUSTE) RENOIR. If the Guessers call out the correct name, the Cluegiver sets the card aside, draws a new card from the Deck, and begins giving clues for the name on that card.

The Cluegiver cannot pass and move on to a new name until the Guessers call out the correct name. If the Cluegiver doesn't recognize the name he draws, he'll have to be more resourceful with his clues.

If the Cluegiver gives an illegal clue, his turn ends immediately and the card he goofed on is returned to the Deck.

When time expires, the Cluegiver shuffles the card he was currently working on back into the Deck. He keeps each card that was guessed correctly in a pile near him. Pass the Deck to the next team clockwise, who in turn pass the timer to the next team clockwise from them.

Important: If time runs out before a name is guessed, players may NOT discuss the name with each other. The cluegiver can't reveal who he was trying to convey, and players on other teams who think they figured it out can't tell their guesses to each other. A card may come up multiple times before it is guessed correctly.

The round ends when all names have been guessed and the Deck is empty. When the deck runs out and all names have been guessed, pause the timer immediately. The current team will take the first turn in the next round, using only the remaining time on the timer.

If they feel there is not enough time left to use, they can pass to the next team who will start the round with the timer reset back to 30 seconds.

Each team now adds up all the cards they collected and score 1 point for each card. The scorekeeper tallies the score.

After scoring, each team reads aloud all the names from their pile of cards to refresh everyone's memory about which names are in the game (if necessary, check the Glossary for a brief description of any unfamiliar names).

When all names have been read, put all the cards back into the Deck and shuffle well. The team after the last team to play starts the next round.

Round 2

No more than 1 word can be used in each clue, 1 guess only, passing allowed. Round 2 plays just like Round 1, with the following changes: The Cluegiver may not use more than one word per card to describe each name.

The same word may be repeated as often as desired, but once a word is said only non-verbal clues may be added. If the Cluegiver accidentally uses more than one word he must set the card aside face down, draw a new one from the Deck and continue with the new name.

Each team may make only 1 guess per card. If the guess is incorrect, the Cluegiver must set that card aside face-down, draw a new one and continue with the new name.

The Cluegiver may pass during this round. To do so, simply say "Pass", set the card aside face-down, draw a new one from the Deck and continue with the new name. At no point are Guessers ever allowed to Pass.

At the end of the turn, any cards set aside due to passes, clue goofs, or incorrect guesses are shuffled back into the Deck. There is no penalty for such cards.

If a Cluegiver finishes the deck during their turn, their turn is over. They are not allowed to revisit cards that they set aside due to incorrect guesses, passes, etc.

At the end of the round, don't bother reading all the names aloud again; everyone should know them by now. Shuffle all the cards back into the Deck again as before.

Round 3

Only Pantomime And Sounds, 1 Guess Only, Passing Allowed.

Round 3 plays just like Round 2, with the following change: The Cluegiver may not use any words at all. Only sounds and pantomime.

End of the Game

The team with the highest score after all three rounds is the winner/


  • If you don't recognize a name you draw, break it into parts. Possible approaches include: Does someone else have the same first or last name? Ex: "He's got the same first name as the first President of the United States".

  • Use 'sounds like' clues; just be sure not to actually say the word the name sounds like! Ex: For ROGER MOORE, "His last name is the opposite of 'less'".

  • Give clues for each syllable of a name.

  • In rounds 2 and 3 if you draw a name that you don't know how to convey, pass quickly rather than waste time trying to figure something out. Then think about how to do it while you wait for your next turn. That way you'll be prepared if you draw it again.

  • Round 3 is the most fun, but it can also be the most difficult. Hard names can be made much easier if gestures are incorporated into 1st and 2nd round clues. If you hold your hands like a telescope when giving a clue for CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS in the early rounds, for example, that gesture will become a shorthand for Columbus in the final round.

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