When you open up Knit Wit for the first time, you’re struck by the feeling of wanting to create. Everything looks like it was picked out at a delightful little craft store – wooden spools, colourful loops of ‘yarn’, lovely buttons and more. Before even cracking the wonderfully concise rule sheet, you’ll be pawing at the components, thinking about what you could possibly craft. But before you tangle yourself up in that, do you want to find out what the Knit Wit fuss is all about? The basics of the game are just that – three simple rounds of actions where you as a group of players will design the game’s layout, use it to guide your answers and then score it all out at the end.
First is the knitting phase – what I think of as the calm before the storm. You and the other knitters will be creating a ‘design’; a maze of colourful loops, wooden spools and petite word cards, clipped to each loop by a clothespin – adorable, right? Depending on how many players are in the game, each player will have a certain number of loops and spools to place and create the design. In this way, the game scales well; almost all of the spools and loops are used for any number of players, and there is even a nice 2 player variant.
To ‘knit’, place one of your yarn loops out on the play space. If you’re the first player, just lay it down anywhere – but once there’s a design started, you’ll always have to make sure the loop you’re placing contains just one spool. Once you’ve placed your loop, select one of the word cards from the box and secure it to the clothespin on your loop. You aren’t going to know what word you’ll be placing out until then, so there’s an element of surprise which leads to the challenges and fun of the answer round. While placing your loop, and intersecting it with others, what clue combinations will you create? But don’t get your heart set on your answers just yet – as the design grows, and clues intersect even more, that very simple warm could end up being something really tough to answer.
But don’t spend too long flipping out about the wacky word combinations. To finish your turn of ‘knitting’, you place a spool out into the design – it’s got to be within at least one loop, and where there isn’t already someone else’s spool. Choose carefully – is it a combination of words you feel confident in coming up with an answer for? Are you trying to make things trickier for your friends? Green, warm and white… Oh boy, what are you gonna do when it comes time to answer that one? Slow and electric? What? That’s going to be a tough one… Once everyone’s done with their placements, that’s the end of the knit phase.
Knit one, word one, spool one. Knit one, word one, spool one. Keep that going around until every player has placed their yarn loops and spools. When you step back and look at it at the play space at the end of the knitting phase, it really is a unique design. It’s a complex mess of colour and wood and you’re about to have to stop admiring it and start using it as the key to inspire your answers. Enjoy this fleeting moment of calm because it’s about to be a whirlwind of an answer phase.
Get your sweet little answer/score sheet ready! These little chalkboard analogs feel like the kind of special paper you had when you were a kid that you’d save for special occasions, but nothing ever felt special enough to actually use it. But you’ll want to use the score sheets here, because every game of Knit Wit is a special occasion. Your white pencil at the ready, write answers that correspond to each spool in the design. Spool one might lie in the intersection of “blue” and “smaller than a breadbox”, so you need to quickly think of something that fits the description there, then move on to spool two, and so on. But the speed of answering isn’t the only thing that matters here. Much like Scattergories, you need to be creative enough that you’re not going to duplicate an answer on your own sheet or compared to your fellow knitters. If you’re the first player to write an answer for every spool #, grab a bonus button; each subsequent player who finishes does this, and once the last bonus button is taken, the other players are out of time for answering.
Once this flurry of the answer storm is done, it’ll be time to read over everyone’s answers to check for possible duplicates and (again a little like Scattergories) to make sure everyone’s answers make sense given the clues. Because this game encourages creativity there could be some answers that, stretch the imagination shall we say? Calling ‘Knit Wit!’ to challenge an answer means the player who came up with it has 10 seconds to justify this answer, and the other players will settle on if it can be accepted and scored, or not. I recommend pointing in a highly accusatory fashion and proclaiming “Knit Wit, GOOD SIR!” for some extra pizazz.
So, what are each of the answers that make it through this process to the scoring phase worth? Your accepted answer is worth one point for each word associated with its spool. So if I write “artichoke and spinach dip” for warm, white and green, I’ll get 3 points. For blue and smaller than a breadbox, if I wrote “a smurf”, I’d get 2 points – and so on. Add up the points you’ve earnt for your answers and any of your bonus button points, and boom! You’re finished a game of Knit Wit. It’s certainly quicker than it’s been for me to finish any of my crafting projects, that’s for sure (I swear I’ll get those leg warmers finished before the weather gets much spring-ier.) Of course, you’ll more than likely want to keep playing after this, once you’ve been tangled up in its fun – and you certainly can play a good many rounds of this, because the 114 word cards included in the game make for a good amount of ‘replayability’ (seeing as you’ll use only 8 words per game).
I love party games that encourage creativity, rather than doing much of the work for you, and Knit Wit really is all about that experience. Not only are you making the ‘design’ – the basis of how you’ll answer and score in any particular game – with your friends, you’re also encouraged to look beyond the obvious, and think about words and concepts that might not normally intersect (like sharp, blue and electric? Uhhh…) Knit Wit doesn’t hand you an experience on a platter like a lot of party games tend to do nowadays. Like any good craft project, it’s got great components that can be combined into something terrific with a magic touch.
With a lot word/party games, there’ll be some folks who will have a natural aversion – especially so if the ‘timed’ nature of the answering round proves a little too stressful for some! But those of you out there who like getting creative with words, but also want a nice tangible experience on top of that, I can’t recommend Knit Wit enough. It’s an easy to learn game great for groups, quick to play – and I guarantee you won’t have ever had to think of something intangible, serious & moving before. I gotta think that one over…
Knit Wit is a party game of word entanglement for 2 to 8 players taking around 15 minutes to play. It is available from Z-Man Games later this week. I’d like to thank Z-Man for sending me a preview copy (as I was a playtester for this game).