Sign – a dynamic mind game


Tactics, bluff, concentration and cooperation. Sign is a clever and hilarious game for large and small groups

Sign is a multi-layered game. At first it seems so simple, as players have to put together a quintet of five of the same figures and five different colours. But then the game begins: you trade with cards that are on the table. Everyone picks at the same time, so pay attention and act quickly so you get the card you need. Be careful though, because the figures are quite similar and before you know it, you have something in your hand that you didn’t want at all.

Practising organisation and working memory

Make sure you keep the right cards in your hand, take a quick look at what you want to trade and strike as soon as an interesting card comes along. But what do you do when that last card you still need just doesn’t come along? Do you start building another quintet after all? You can, but beware: as soon as all players pass, the cards that were on the table go out of the game and new cards are laid down. Do you remember which cards have already passed?

Quintet or not?

Don’t think Sign is just about putting together a quintet. It is even more difficult. After all, you are not allowed to shout yourself that you have a quintet, only your teammates can do that.

Working together is the only way to score points

Therefore, you agree in advance on a secret signal (hence the name Sign) that you give each other when you have a quintet. If your team-mate sees this, she shouts very loudly: Sign! The quintet is checked and if it is correct, your team gets a point.

Practising self-regulation

But if a player from another team sees your signal, that player may also shout “Sign!” and earn points. Sign practices self-regulation: shouting something at random is pointless. If you say the wrong thing, your opponents will score points. So think carefully before you call out.

Quintet or not?

Class 7 says: ‘An exciting, fun game where you have to pay close attention to others.’

Together with group 7, I tried out Sign. There were exactly nine of us and we were therefore able to play it with three teams of three. First, the teams had to agree on a signal. That calls on creative thinking, because you want a signal that doesn’t stand out too much but is still clear enough.

The score can change very quickly, keeping it exciting until the end

The first round of play was really an entrance round: all children were focused on the quintets. In the second round, they already played much more tactically: Peter gave fake signals to fool his opponents, Marcel deliberately held cards when he saw opponents saving them, and Dennis tried to give signals to his teammates with the cards he put on the table.

As we discussed Sign afterwards, it struck us that it is not actually about collecting quintets. You only score points by paying close attention to others and picking up signals from your teammates and fellow players.

During the debriefing, all sorts of tactical tips came along as a result: – one player holds cards so that opponents cannot make a quintet – one player watches very closely what her teammates collect and provides them with the cards they need – the team agrees in advance who is watching whom.

Sign you play together as a team, it is interactive and dynamic

As there were nine of us playing Sign, it was crowded around the table. Everyone was jumping around, diving on the cards, quickly looking around again to see if a sign was given somewhere and looking at their own cards again. The game system makes it very dynamic. Good thinking remains important. You can’t think for long!

Sign is Dutch Design!

Sign was made in the Netherlands by the group The Mountain Men. On their website, you can read more about Sign and also find a list of game shops where you can buy the game (update 2023: the website is currently offline).

General information on Sign:

  • number of players: 4 – 9 persons
  • time: beforehand, you agree on the final score you will reach. We agreed on 5 points and spent about half an hour doing that
  • from: 8 years
  • uitgever: The Mountain Men (update 2023: offline. The game is currently published by Asmodee)
  • price: around € 15.95
  • Quick rules can be found here (in Dutch)

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