Skip to Content

‘Guess Who?’ 101 (Game): 13 Things To Know (An Introduction)

Last Updated on January 25, 2024 by Gamesver Team and JC Franco

‘Guess Who?’ is a two-player board game that was initially designed to be an easy and entertaining way for children to learn deductive skills and apply critical thinking. At its launch in the early 80s, the game was widely popular and still is in many parts of the world. 

This easy-to-learn, easy-to-play board game is a great way to spend some quality time with your children or even your friends. Each game takes about 5-10 minutes on average, unlike other board games that could take potentially hours to complete. 

If you are looking for a fun and simple board game to play with your kids or simply want to give ‘Guess Who?’ a try for nostalgic purposes, you have landed at the right place. Here, we will look at 13 things you need to know before playing or buying ‘Guess Who?’‘.

1. Object Of The Game

In order to win in ‘Guess Who?’ you need to guess your opponent’s mystery card before they are able to guess yours.

2. What Comes In The Box?

In the classic 1982 version of the ‘Guess Who?’ board, you should have the following components in your box:

  • 2 Gameboard/Trays (1 red, 1 blue)
  • 48 Face Cards (24 red, 24 blue)
  • 1 Deck Of Mystery Cards (24 yellow cards)
  • 2 Scorekeepers
  • Instruction Manual

3. How To Setup The Game?

Insert the cards into the tray. Red cards go on the red tray, and blue cards on the blue tray. Make sure you and your opponent are sitting facing each other. Shuffle the mystery card deck and draw one card each. Place the mystery card on the slot right in front of your tray. Make sure you both can’t see each other’s cards. You are now ready to play!

4. Playing ‘Guess Who?’

In ‘Guess Who?’ gameplay doesn’t depend on dice rolls or moving pieces on the board. Instead, it depends upon questions. Each player gets to ask one question each turn. The youngest player will always go first. 

Also, you can’t just ask any questions. Only yes or no questions are to be accepted. For example, “Does your person have black hair?”. 

Once your opponent has answered your question, you can then eliminate a person that doesn’t fit the bill by pushing that card down on your tray. 

The more questions you ask, the more people you can eliminate until you are able to guess the person your opponent is holding. The first person to correctly guess the mystery person wins!

5. When To Guess Your Opponent’s Mystery Card?

You can only make a guess on who your opponent’s mystery person is at the start of your turn. You can not first ask a question and then make a guess even if the question you ask makes the person obvious. 

For example, you can ask the question, is your mystery person Paul?. If your opponent answers “Yes”, that doesn’t mean you have won. Your opponent can still guess your card before you have a chance to guess theirs. 

On the other hand, if you do make an outright guess and it turns out to be incorrect, you will automatically lose the match. So, it pays to be careful unless you have no choice but to throw a hail mary and hope for the best!

6. Championship Play

As a single game of ‘Guess Who?’ takes only 5-10 minutes, playing the championship version is always the better choice to truly figure out who is best. Championship play is a best of five matches, where the winner is whoever reaches three wins first. 

This makes it so the person with the most skill is likely to always come on top as luck can only ever get you so far.

7. Challenge Game

For players wanting more of a challenge, you can opt to draw two mystery cards instead of the one. This adds a whole new dimension to the game, and it makes everything a lot harder and more complicated.

Choosing what questions to ask can be increasingly tricky, and keeping track of the answers even more so. What makes this game mode even more challenging is that a player must guess both their opponent’s mystery people on the same turn. 

Guessing one and then the other is against the rules and will lead to disqualification.

8. Distinctive Characteristics

It is important to understand that each person or character card has a distinct set of characteristics that are likely shared by only one or two more characters in the game. 

Identifying these distinct characteristics can actually make guessing your opponent’s mystery card a lot easier. 

For example, five characters have blue eyes, five characters are women, three characters wear jewelry, five characters wear hats, one character is African American, four characters have a beard…so on and so forth.

9. Asking Compound Questions

Nowhere in the rule book does it say that you can not ask compound questions. As long as the question has a yes or no answer, it is considered legal. Therefore, it is always best to use compound questions to eliminate as many characters as possible in one turn. 

For example, instead of asking, “does your character have white hair?” you can instead ask, “does your character have white hair or black hair?”. Depending on the answer to the first question, you can only eliminate up to five characters. However, the answer to the compound question can result in potentially ten to fourteen characters being eliminated. 

10. The Letter Strategy

The best opening move of the game is to ask the following question; “Does your person’s name start with the letter A-G?. No matter whether the answer is “yes” or “no”, you are guaranteed to eliminate half of the characters on your board. 

11. The Binary Search Approach

The binary search approach uses the letter strategy all the way through in order to win the game in six moves or less. Using the binary approach, each question you ask should at the very least eliminate 50% of the people remaining on your board. 

So on your first move, you go from 24 characters to 12, then to 6, then to 3, then to 2 until you are left with 1 (which is your opponent’s mystery character). In theory, then, you should be able to beat pretty much any opponent you come across using this approach.

12. Different Editions Of ‘Guess Who?’

If you are not a fan of the classic 80s version of the ‘Guess Who?’ board game, there are plenty of special editions that can make the game that much more entertaining. 

You can find special Star Wars editions, Marvel editions, and even Disney editions of the game. What’s more, there is also a female-only version of the game and even one that is inclusive of all ethnicities.  

13. Online ‘Guess Who?’

In an age where almost everything we do is digital, it is not surprising that ‘Guess Who?’ also has its own online version of the game that was released all the way back in 1999 by Hasbro Interactive. 

Modern online variations of the game are also available that are free to play and loads of fun. You can either play versus the computer AI or choose to play with real players from all over the world. 

All Things Considered

‘Guess Who?’ is a fun and easy-to-learn two-player competitive board game for people of all ages. It comes with a simple set of rules that allow players room for creativity but makes it, so no player has a huge edge over the other. 

This combination often results in close games where you are almost on the verge of guessing your opponent’s card just to be thwarted by them guessing yours first. 

Hopefully, these thirteen things that you have learned today will help you be better prepared for your next game of ‘Guess Who?’ no matter who your competition is!

+ posts

This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who enjoy sharing their knowledge about their favorite games with others!

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco serves as a New York-based editor for Gamesver. His interest for board games centers around chess, a pursuit he began in elementary school at the age of 9. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Mercyhurst University, JC brings a blend of business acumen and creative insight to his role. Beyond his editorial endeavors, he is a certified USPTA professional, imparting his knowledge in tennis to enthusiasts across the New York City Metropolitan area.