REVIEW: You’ve Been Sentenced Game by McNeill Designs

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You've Been Sentenced Game

You’ve Been Sentenced is a funny word game by McNeill Designs The game comes with 2500 words that you randomly draw and have to try to make into the longest sentence (you get 10 cards per round.) Sound easy? It’s harder than it looks.

For ages 8 and up, 30-40 min to play and 3-10 players.

How to Play

The cards are pentagon shaped and each card has 5 words on it, all related to each other.

You've Been Sentenced Cards

There are numbers on the card too to show what amount of points each word is worth. Most are worth 5 points but some harder to use words are worth a little more.

So you pick your 10 cards randomly and then everyone at the same time works on the longest sentence possible. You’ll get bonus points for finishing first and for using all 10 cards but you don’t want to be stuck with no sentence either so sometimes you decide on a smaller sentence so at least you’ll get something. The first person to be comfortable with their sentence turns over the timer and then sits back and waits. Everyone else has till the end of the timer to finish their sentence. Then sentences are shared and players decide if they accept it or not as grammatically correct.  Scores are tallied and then play starts again. First player to 200 points wins.

Our Sentences

*read that first one as if there is a comma after Monkey

You've Been Sentenced Example Sentence

You've Been Sentenced Example Sentence

Game Add-Ons and Variations

There are variations to the regular game play as well included in the instructions if you want to change it up.

There are also add-on decks you can purchase to go with the full game to give you themed words. You just place the add on deck beside the main game and players can pick up to 2 of their 10 words from any one add on deck.

Currently you can choose from:

  • Brain-Buster Word Challenge (A-L)
  • NASA Space Terminology
  • Gourmet Cuisine
  • Pop Culture
  • Sci-fi/Fantasy
  • Pop Culture
  • Sports Highlights

When we tested out the game we used the Gourmet Cuisine and Sci-fi/Fantasy add on decks. In the example sentences above, you can see the words that are part of the Gourmet Cuisine deck because their middles are green and yellow instead of blue and purple.

If you REALLY want a challenge, use the Brain Buster add-on deck, just look at this first card:

Brain Buster Add On Deck for You've Been Sentenced

Do you know these words? I’ve heard of abashed and cache but could only use cache in a sentence!

My Suggestion for Playing

We found while playing that we had different expectations for how much of a stickler we were going to be with the rules. So I suggest deciding ahead of time how you want to play. For example, according to the rules:

“Sentences are acceptable as long as they are grammatically correct and make some sort of sense to the jury. [other players]”

There are more points and rules but basically it comes down the other players and what they accept. 

So decide ahead of time if you are going to be a big stickler for rules or if you will stretch what make sense a bit. We found we didn’t want to say no to the other players sentences because they might say no to ours next time.


The instructions include 11 variations you might prefer to play after you get used to the game. Here are just a few:

  • Popular Vote – After all sentences are judged, players take a vote to determine who had the “best” sentence this round. Everyone gets one vote. The winner gets a 10-point bonus. In the event of ties, no one gets the bonus.
  • Card Discard – After the Deal, but before making sentences, a player has 30 seconds to discard and redraw 1, 2 or 3 cards from the Word Pool. A player can only redraw once per round. Since you will likely end up with larger sentences, we suggest playing to 300 points.
  • Deadwood – This variation is only recommended for experienced players. Any cards not used in an accepted sentence stay in the player’s hand. Rejected sentences go back into a player’s hand. Draw as many cards as needed to get back to a 10-card hand at the beginning of a turn. Otherwise, you have to make do with your “deadwood.”

It’s a great game to have fun and learn at the same time.

If you buy You’ve Been Sentenced online during the month of October 2012, you can get 30% off! The website also has a section for educators.

*Disclosure: I received the product(s) mentioned above free of charge by the company or PR representative for evaluation purposes. No other compensation was provided. See my Disclosure Policy for more information.

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