Since it’s party games month, I figure it’s time to tell you all about my favourite party game: Dirty Bag O’ Nouns. Do you have a bag? Do you have some paper and (not necessary) some scissors? Great! You have the game. Don’t say I don’t have your best interests at heart.
Every player gets a sheet of paper and a pen (you also need some pens! Sorry!). Every player is instructed to write down ten to fifteen nouns on the paper, and then cut the paper so that every noun is on its own sheet of paper. You then put all the pieces of noun-paper into a bag. The kind of bag matters very little, so here is your chance to get some gaming mileage out of those grocery bags that are kicking around your closet waiting to be garbage bags. Pro tip: the bag can DOUBLE as a garbage bag once you are done the game. Again, I’m looking out for you.
The players divide themselves into two teams. The game is divided into three rounds or, if you prefer a longer game, four rounds. Each round is about 90 seconds long, but you can play around with that. During a round, each team will rotate through all of their players, making one player the active player and the rest the guessers. The teams then take turns back and forth until each player on each team has had a round as the active player.
On the active player’s turn, they will take one paper out, act out the noun, and if the guessers guess the noun, the active player takes another paper out of the bag. Do this until the time runs out. There is also 1 pass, or more passes, depending upon how hardcore your group is.
The rounds work as follows
1st Round: The active player may say any words, except the noun itself, use any gesture, to act out the noun on the paper.
2nd Round: The active player may say only one word and use any gestures to act out the noun on the paper.
3rd Round: The active player may not speak, and can only use gestures to act out the noun on the paper.
4th Round (optional): The active player may only use a tableau (must stay in one position) while the guessers guess the noun.
Seems simple? Of course! That’s because it’s VERY simple. There’s nothing complicated here. It can be taught in 3-5 minutes, and every part of the game is fun. It’s fun coming up with funny nouns (especially once you start allowing adjectives or more complicated things “A cafe in Paris at night time”). It’s fun watching your friends flail around trying to act out “Stalinesque Dancers” or “Teatime in Brazil”. It’s also fun to win, but I’ve never thought it was particularly important in Dirty Bag O’ Nouns.
A big component of the game is when a person realizes that someone else is acting out the strange thing that they wrote, and they can just shout it out or sit in glee as they watch the other team try and squirm their way around “Headshots for a horror film”. You would think that the game would become significantly harder in the 2nd and 3rd rounds, but I’ve never found this to be an issue. You’ll hear most of the papers in the first round, and after that it’s all about coming up with short gesture signifiers for the more complex stuff.
Why is it called Dirty Bag O’ Nouns? Well, depending upon your group, you can make the nouns as horrifying or as nice as possible. This is where it is important to GAUGE YOUR GROUP. If you’re playing with your parents, maybe don’t include the worst things you can think of, but if you’re playing with your friends and your jokes are usually more on the blue side, this game can get ridiculous pretty quickly. Remember Cards Against Humanity? Pre-scripted jokes have nothing on this game.
So that’s it for this week. If I had to review this game, and I suppose I should, I would say that it gets worse the more competitive people are about it (and there will be someone who wants the rules followed to a T), but I’ve never had a bad time playing it. It’s good, and can occupy about an hour of a group’s time. What more do you want?