Going across the pond for the only other British home game in my apartment...and this one actually belongs to my roommate Ethan, so I borrowed it just to add a review to my website. Thank you Ethan.
"Countdown" has been a fixture on British television for exactly 28 days longer than I've been alive. Based on a French game show called "The Numbers and the Letters," it's easily my favorite game among those that I'm not good at. Seriously, I'm TERRIBLE at "Countdown," but any time somebody suggests digging out the game and playing, I'm in. No exceptions.
"Countdown" is a game divided into fifteen--yes, FIFTEEN--rounds of play. The TV show was and is a contest between two players, but theoretically any number can play, and it's yet another game where "the more the merrier" applies.
Eleven rounds in each game are Letters rounds. Two big thick decks of cards, Consonants and Vowels, are used. Contestants take turns being in charge of choosing a group of nine letters for each round; you must pick at least four consonants and you must pick at least three vowels. Players then have 30 seconds to brainstorm the longest possible word using those nine letters, with the player who comes up with the longest word scoring one point per letter. In a tie, the tied players each get the points.
Three rounds are Numbers rounds. This one uses a deck of 24 number cards. Four are "Big" numbers--25, 50, 75, 100--the rest are "Small", the numbers 1-10. Choose any six cards randomly and reveal those numbers. CECIL, the number randomizing computer from the show, is replaced here by a ten-sided die. Roll the die three times to get a three-digit target number. Using the numbers in front of you, you must construct a math problem that leads to the target number. The closer you get to the target number, the more points it's worth, but only the player(s) who come closest will get the points.
The final round is the Conundrum. A nine-letter scrambled word is displayed, and the first contestant to shout out the word gets 10 points. If you're stumped by the example seen above, let me simply say that many broken bones, but no DEAD LIVER, was ever suffered by Evel Knievel.
By the very nature of the game, you get literally infinite material, except for the Conundrum, and you get plenty of Conundrums with the home game. The only knock against the material supplied are the notepads you get for scribbling possible solutions during your 30 seconds. The slips are frustratingly tiny (see photo). You're honestly better off tearing sheets from a writing tablet or using dry erase slates, if you own enough to go around. A nice touch in the game though: instead of a sand timer, you get a push button-operated teeny tiny music box. The show has an iconic piece of music used for the 30 seconds of thinking, so push the button and just listen to the music. When the music stops, your 30 seconds is up.