Soliciting opinions on a Cranium board game rule dispute

I’m not sure if this thread would be better in the IMHO forum, as it concerns opinions on a disputed interpretation of a game rule.

During a friendly game of Cranium, a “club cranium” card was drawn (we called these “all play” cards because every team performs). The card was a *Copycat *card, which according to Wikipedia is played by the following rule:

I assume there is a Wikipedia-introduced error in the rule as described above: “Teammates can say anything but not use proper names or places” – how could the teammates guess the person or character being copied without saying the name themselves? Teammates are supposed to shout out who they think it is, as I understand it.

The person being copycatted in this case was was “Marlon Brando.”

When the timer was started, one player immediately emoted, “Stelllllllaaaaaa!”

The rest of us stopped and pointed out that was a proper name.

This was vigorously disputed by the player in question.

Stella Kowalski is a character in the Tennessee Williams play “A Streetcar Named Desire.” Marlon Brando’s character, Stanley Kowalski, is shouting the name of his wife in the famous scene.

The player claimed that the “Stella” cry is “an iconic moment” in the national consciousness (presumably what the “cultural touchstones” comment in the Wiki means). The player later described it as a “signature move.”

Everyone else agreed but maintained that it remains a “proper name” for the purposes of the rule.

IMHO the rule exists specifically to exclude the instant recognition that results from using the familiar names of characters and famous people. You wouldn’t be copycatting Lincoln if you just said, “I am here to debate you, Stephen Douglas!” nor would you be sensibly demonstrating your acting skills by saying “I’ll build that theme park or my name isn’t Walt Disney!”…and so on.

In fact, a previous Copycat card in that same play session had involved the character Kramer from the Seinfeld TV show. The player had mimed sliding in through a door and looking surprised, but had deliberately refrained from saying “Hello, Jerry!” on the assumption that it would not be allowed. (I consider this a roughly parallel case).

What say you? Is Stella clearly a “proper” name and not allowed? Or is it more of a sound and an emotion, as a cultural touchstone?

Normally we don’t argue rules, and especially in the case of a social game like Cranium, but the player persists days later in asserting that “Stella!” should in fact have been allowed, is in the spirit of the rules, and that everyone else is wrong.
Edit: title contains a typo, sorry

I’d say it’s firmly in the spirit of the rules but against the letter of the rules, and should therefore be disallowed. If you allow things in the spirit but against the letter, you get into irreconcilable rules-lawyering, and that’s going to ruin the game: so just make it clear to everyone that it’s the letter, not the spirit, that should motivate. We encountered something similar in a game of Cranium once.

An alternative would be to shout out, “MY WIFE!” in exactly the same tone of voice, then sotto voce, “(only saying her actual name instead)”. Not as good, naturally, but within letter and spirit of rules.

But yeah, the letter-vs-spirit thing needs to be clarified before the next game, in a no-harm, no-foul way. I strongly advise for going for the letter of the rules, to avoid exactly this sort of argument.

I agree: Stella is a proper name, and shouldn’t have been allowed.

Imagine “Luke, I am your father” as a clue for James Earl Jones. or “KHAAAAAAN” for William Shatner.

Interestingly, I myself planned to bellow “Name of woman in play!!!” in exactly that way, but was scooped by the other player.

Would it have been “legal” to say that and also to remove your shirt (assuming you had a wifebeater and hairy back under your shirt)?:smiley:

If the player hadn’t used a proper name, you know, he could have been a contender. But if it happened on the day of his daughter’s wedding, I think you could have given it to him.

Personally, I think it’s too hard to make a satisfactory rule for that game. Excluding all ‘famous lines’ is too tough to enforce, and proper names doesn’t cover much. Better would be to make it more of an improv game - do an impression of famous person X at the grocery store, for instance. Though that tends to be a much more difficult skill.

“No proper names” means - wait for it - no proper names. So you can’t bellow “Stella!”

“Iconic moment” may be the lamest excuse I have ever heard to backpedal out of a DQ.


Here’s the exact text of the current version of the card. Seems pretty clear to me.

There’s not much left of Cranium these days, but I’m going in to the office later this week or early next and can get the final word if anyone still cares.

You mean the office of the game company itself?

Heh. It would be nice to have word from On High, just fpor my own ego gratification, but I doubt it’s worth restarting the argument just for a “gotcha!” unless the player keeps harping on it or it comes up again in-game.

Such as it is these days. There isn’t a separate Cranium office now. Hasbro closed that when they bought us out.

I’ll get you a formal ruling. :smiley:

God I love this board.

Seems extremely cut and dried to me: completely disqualified. Your friend is full of hot air.

I agree, Stella is a proper name, and shouldn’t have been allowed.

Here’s the formal ruling. No surprises here.

Also, “Get the butter…” would have been acceptable.

Are you an assassin? You’re an errand boy, sent to collect a bill.

This is no fantasy - no careless product of wild imagination. No, my friends. These indictments that I have brought to you today, specific charges herein against the individuals. Their acts of treason, their ultimate aim of sedition. These… are matters of undeniable fact. I ask you now to pronounce judgment on those accused.

Or he could put on a sheet and wear it like a mu mu, and wear a ice bucket at a hat and have someone fill it. Getting a mini-me would probably make people thing of Dr. Evil.

Going out in the yard and arranging to have a neighborhood kid throw cheeseburgers over the fence to you could also be a useful clue.