Poetry for Neanderthals Review - Box Feature

Poetry for Neanderthals Review: Did it Win us Over?

Play Time: 15 Min / Players: 2-12 / Complexity: Low / Age: 7+ / Publisher: Exploding Kittens / Designer: Elan Lee   

Poetry for Neanderthals Ratings and Summary


Kids Rating
Teen Rating
Parent Rating


Kids rating from our daughters (9 & 12)
Teen rating from our son (16).

Poetry for Neanderthals is a fun unique take on word guessing games that can lead to a lot of laughs. Unfortunately, if people aren’t able to grasp talking in one syllable sentences it can also kind of fall flat.



  • Very easy to learn
  • Can lead to a lot of laughs if you can get the hang of it
  • Inflatable club is likely to add to the fun factor and the laughs
  • Plays quickly even with a large group.


  • If you struggle with speaking in one syllable word sentences it can be a lot less fun
  • If you get through all the cards once with the same group it can become easier to guess the words.

What You Will Find in Our Poetry for Neanderthals Review

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We first tried Poetry for Neanderthals at the 2023 Wellycon. We thought it looked like it would generate a few laughs and so we decided to give it a go. At the time we were split on this game with some of us really enjoying it and some really disliking it. After trying it at Wellycon I thought it might grow on the members of our family that didn’t warm to it and in any case, I was looking for another game that could accommodate a large player count, so I bought a copy. Was I right? Well, after 6 months and a number of plays we can share our thoughts.

Poetry for Neanderthals is a team-based game published by Exploding Kittens where one player is trying to get their team mates to guess a word on their card for 1 point or guess the harder phrase on their card for 3 points. The catch is you can only use clues with one syllable words, you can’t use gestures like charades, you can’t use ‘sounds like’ or ‘rhymes with’ or abbreviations.

What happens when you breach a rule? Well, one of your opponents is poised with an inflatable club that they can use to give you a gentle tap on the head. If that happens you have to ditch your current card and grab a new one. Each card you don’t guess counts as a negative point so you want to keep these to a minimum.

You only get 1 minute to get through as many cards as you can before play passes to the next team. After everyone has had a turn at providing clues the game ends and the scores are tallied to find the winning team. There’s not much to it and it’s very simple to learn.

If you want to play this as a two-player game, it becomes a cooperative experience where each player takes turns being the poet and the guesser 3 times. The combined score is then tallied up to compare against the points targets to see how skilful you are.

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This concept is just so silly that I thought it would generate a lot of laughs at our house. Notwithstanding the mixed response, it got when we first tried it, I hoped we would get better at getting into character and consequently have more fun with it. Overall, I have to say it didn’t really work out as well as I hoped.

What I have found is that the fun factor in the game depends a lot on weather players are able to get comfortable with speaking in one syllable sentences without getting stuck. For players who can do this well, it tends to generate a lot of engagement and laughs. But if it’s not something you can get used to it’s easy for the game to kind of get a little stuck with periods of frustration.

Poetry for Neanderthals Review - Player Board

Let me give you an example. Say I am trying to get my team to guess the word ‘boot’. I may say….’this thing go on foot, it is not sock, this thing for walk, this thing go high on leg, this not shoe…’ etc. As I am talking even if people don’t guess correctly, I can ditch the card and move on to the next clue. Although it costs me a point the fact that I am still talking generates some engagement and guesses. If most players can get the hang of it, then it results in a pretty fun game.

In contrast my wife and daughters seem to struggle with this way of talking to give clues. They may simply go for one-word clues and then get stuck with long silent pauses. I have seen others struggle with this too. When this happens the game kind of falls flat a bit and people get a little frustrated, then the engagement can drop. I mention this because I think the fun factor here will depend a lot on how well people can adjust to giving clues in this way.

When it works well and people are into it, there’s a lot of laughs to be had. Especially given the inflatable club which adds a nice touch when people break the rules. It also flows quickly for a game that can accommodate so many people, so I think it can be a great option for when you have a large number of players.

Poetry for Neanderthals Review - Teams Board

But you tend to go through a lot of cards in a game, especially with more players. If you are playing with the same group, you might find you run through all the cards and then it becomes easier to guess words because they have been used before. There are 200 cards with clues on both sides giving you 400 words and phrases. This sounds like a lot but…if you play with 8 people you could get through around 60-80 cards in a game meaning you may get through all of the cards in about 5 or so games. So replay value may decrease a bit if you play with the same group regularly. If you do run out though there is an expansion available with another 2,000 words and phrases which should keep you going for a lot longer.   

When it comes to the cooperative 2 player variant my youngest daughter and I have really enjoyed it. I think because there is less pressure, and we are working together she doesn’t find it as stressful. This may be a good way to get younger kids used to the game, especially if they aren’t confident about using one syllable words.

The components in Poetry for Neanderthals overall are fine. I think the inflatable club is a nice touch and adds to the fun factor nicely. The game boards, word cards and timer are all fine but for a game like this there isn’t much needed in the way of components. 

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Poetry for Neanderthals is a silly but fun concept that has the potential to generate a lot of fun if your group can adjust to speaking in one syllable sentences. But equally if they can’t you might find it isn’t as well received.

So, what do we all think of this game? Well, I really enjoy it and have no trouble with speaking like a Neanderthal, maybe this should concern me a little? My wife on the other hand really dislikes this game, she finds it a little silly but also thinks the inflatable club leads to some arguments with kids, which happens on occasion when one feels they have been bopped unfairly or too hard.

Out of my kids, my son enjoys this game the most and my daughters enjoy a game or two every now and then, but when they do play, they like it in small doses.

Is Poetry for Neanderthals easy to learn?  Yes, very easy.  

What will Poetry for Neanderthals teach my kids?   Hmmm maybe just what a one syllable word is?   

What age is appropriate for Poetry for Neanderthals?   The box says 7+ really, I think it depends on how well your child understands what one syllable words are.

Does Poetry for Neanderthals have good replay value?  Given how quickly you get through the cards in a game I think replay value likely won’t extend past 10 games depending on whether you play with a regular group and the number of players.      

We hope you enjoyed our Poetry for Neanderthals review. If you have any more questions or just want to share your thoughts on this game please leave a comment below, or get in touch through our contact page.

About the Authors

We are parents who love board gaming. We have three children and have been enjoying board games as a family ever since we had our first child. We share our real unbiased experiences and opinions on board games so you can decide if they are right for your family. We also write guides and articles to help you get the most out of your family game time. If you enjoy our content and want to support us you can do that through our Ko-fi page by clicking on the button below.

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