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Describe Your Level of Interest in an English-Language Edition of Top Ten from Worst to Best

by W. Eric Martin

Aurélien Picolet‘s co-operative party game Top Ten debuted in France from Cocktail Games in late 2020. The game saw editions in Spanish, Russian, Italian, Korean, Hungarian, Chinese, and German in 2021, with the latter — a publication of Cocktail Games itself, not a licensed version — being nominated for the Spiel des Jahres award in 2022.

As I explained in this overview post and video, Top Ten was my choice for SdJ based on how the design encourages interaction and creativity among all players. In each of the five rounds, you are given a topic — e.g., “You would like to dive into a pool full of… Complete this sentence, from the worst to the best.” — as well as a number in secret from 1 (in this case worst) to 10 (best). You must give an answer to the prompt — sometimes just a word, sometimes a more involved presentation or full-on mime — ideally landing in the right spot based on your number, and that round’s Captain needs to identify players from low to high.

The game is all about being clever in unusual situations, but more than that it’s about being clever based on what everyone else is doing. You need to figure out where they land on the 1-10 scale so that you can fit your performance to match, and the more you play with the same people, the more you read them correctly — which feels great! You have the joy of the performances themselves, as well as the feeling of guessing everyone’s role correctly and winning, assuming that you do. (As I noted in my post, my father-in-law never quite seemed to get the game, but the rest of us adapted to try to make it work.)

Why am I bringing all of this up six months after Top Ten lost the Spiel des Jahres award to Cascadia? Because at the time of the nomination, an English-language edition of Top Ten did not exist. Cocktail Games told me that it was looking for the ideal partner for this game on the vast U.S. market, and now that partner has finally been announced: Exploding Kittens.

So when will the game be released? Well, not until 2024 because Exploding Kittens isn’t just releasing the game as is. (I’ll note that no edition is quite the same as another because the topics are customized to the culture of the audience. A French topic about creating your “Asterix and Obelix -ix name” became in the English mock-up that I received from Cocktail Games a topic about creating your Kardashian K- name. The concept remained the same, but the specifics did not.)

Here’s most of the press release for this announcement:

Exploding Kittens, the leading game and entertainment company, today announced that it secured the rights to recreate the English-language version of Top Ten from Cocktail Games, the French party game and board game publisher best known for classics such as Hanabi. The reimagined game with an Exploding-Kittens twist will feature new game mechanics, title, and packaging, and is expected to be released in 2024.

“I’ve been watching how Top Ten has captivated players throughout Europe, and it’s pretty exciting to get the chance to adapt it for English-speaking players,” said Elan Lee, Co-Creator and CEO of Exploding Kittens. “We’ve built an incredible pipeline for developing and publishing new games and we see a lot of potential in Top Ten to become a new household favorite in the U.S. and other countries around the world.”

Since its release in 2020, Top Ten has been a favorite party game in the European market. [game explanation removed] The game celebrates creativity, humor, and teamwork as players try to communicate secret levels of intensity in the answers they make up on the fly. Exploding Kittens’ team of designers will build upon the game’s existing fundamentals and update the mechanics to appeal to English-speaking markets, leaning on their experience in building easy-to-play, interactive party games that make players more entertaining.

“Exploding Kittens has a fantastic understanding of English-speaking audiences and their love of party games, and Top Ten is a great fit for their library,” said Matthieu d’Epenoux, Owner of Cocktail Games. “We can’t wait for Exploding Kittens’ new version to be played in all of the English-speaking countries around the world.”

Despite not feeling that any changes needed to be made with the design of Top Ten, I’m curious to see what will change. Exploding Kittens has a fairly successful track record, after all, and it’s aiming for a market that is far larger than “what Eric likes”, even though I often view myself as squarely in the SdJ audience, so who knows?


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