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McNeil Designs Brings Family Game Night: You’ve Been Sentenced and Twisted Fish

Every night our family plays a game together. It doesn’t really matter what game so long as everyone can participate. It’s our family’s time of enjoying each other and learning skills like number recognition, strategy, and just some plain old stuff about one another. It’s our family game night.

We were given the opportunity to review You’ve Been Sentenced (McNeill Designs, 2005 ) and out of the box, immediately my kiddos loved the shape of the box–a pentagon. It’s the only game we have shaped like this and that contributed to the “wow” factor.

you've been sentenced review

Opening the cool shaped box, we discovered this game had A LOT of cards–540 of ‘em and guess what? They are shaped just like the box.  Each card has five words on them–if you’re doing the math with me, that’s 2,700 words used in this game. That’s a lot of vocabularies!

you've been sentenced review

Once I got past the initially overwhelmed feeling of all those cards, we sat down to play. What a hilarious time we had. It wasn’t complicated. You’ve Been Sentenced offers several options for gameplay. We played “Civil Action”.

you've been sentenced review

We shuffled all the cards into one BIG pile and then took turns drawing ten cards each. With the score sheet at hand, we were ready for gameplay!

The object is to form grammatically correct sentences using as many of your ten cards as possible. You can rotate your cards to get different variations of a word, though some words contain groups of words like “over the”, “off of”, “on the”.

Once someone has a sentence they knock on the table to signal they have completed the task.

From here is when it gets too funny. Starting with the first player to “knock” each player reads their sentence. The other players decide whether that sentence makes sense. You may have to argue that your sentence indeed makes sense and is grammatically correct. Then you all vote. You get 5-points for each card used (some words score as high as 20 points depending on difficulty). If you’re the first to finish and knock you score a ten point bonus. If you use all your cards you get ten points.

In You’ve Been Sentenced there are “Wild Cards” These can be used for any single word but have NO point value. Once every player has read their sentence, defended it and been voted on, all cards are discarded and you move to the next round.

The first player to reach 200 points wins the game!

You’ve Been Sentenced also has a great selection of add-on packs which help you customize the game to a sports theme, pop culture theme, gourmet theme, sci-fi theme and even a Reader’s Digest Word Power Challenge Pack!

This game appealed to me as well as to my children. My seven-year-old thought it was a hoot and really worked diligently to create a sentence. Her gameplay started with what card she wanted to use most. My sixteen-year-old found this to be something he could play with his younger siblings and still find it challenging and entertaining for himself.

We also received Twisted Fish. This is my six and four-year-olds’ favorite game. I have to admit I found it captivating. It’s just like “Go Fish” only it has another suit and instead of asking for a generic card, you must ask specifically for the card you want, “Do you have an Orange Blowfish?”

twisted fish game review

The added suit and request for a specific card made this game challenging and had my children paying attention to who was asking for and receiving what to claim the mates to the cards in their hand.

One of the features of Twisted Fish that draws the “oh, no you didn’t” from my family are the “Zinger” cards, these cards allow you to see another player hand, reject the request to hand over your card and more!

twisted fish game review

There was a lot of laughter and the game moved quickly.

Twisted Fish also has some variation plays, but we’re still playing and enjoying the standard game of play. It’s a charming game with some humorous cartoon fish to play.

twisted fish game review

My husband and my favorite item in our Box of Fun is the “Wheel of Chore-ture“. First of all, who isn’t already chuckling over how clever the name is? My kiddos think it’s a hoot to spin the wheel and see what chore they’ve been assigned. They all whisper “c’mon set the table” and cringe when they are assigned “wash the dishes”.

The Wheel of Chore-ture has changed the mundane work around our home into a fiesta of fun–begging to NOT land on the slot and trying to barter with me over “just let me do it again”.

twisted fish game review

A portion of each retail sale of You’ve been Sentenced! goes to fight illiteracy in the USA through the not-for-profit organization Success Won’t Wait, Inc. Founded in 2002, the organization’s mission is to encourage reading, particularly by children. For more information about Success Won’t Wait and its literacy programs, please visit

This year it’s easy to add these great games to your holiday shopping list. McNeill games are available at Toys R Us and Kohl’s this year in addition to Barnes & Noble and our hundreds of independent stores, catalogs and websites.

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