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Cranium Board Game: Rules and How to Play?

Cranium Board Game: Rules and How to Play

If you’re a child of the 90s or early 2000s, then you might remember Cranium. This colorful board game was a classic and still has plenty of fans today! The game has many elements to it, making it fun for the whole family.

The game has aspects of Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary, and even Ludo! But it’s very much its own unique game and well worth playing. Before we discuss what you need to play and the rules let’s take a more in-depth look at the game itself.

What is The Cranium Board Game?

Cranium is a board game all about variety! While you can see the inspiration from other board games, it remains its own unique, fun challenge. There is no game quite like Cranium, that’s for sure.

The game was developed by Richard Tait and Whit Alexander, both former Microsoft employees who wanted to create a game that celebrated everyone’s skillsets. Interestingly the game was also first sold in Starbucks coffee shops, not traditional toy shops.

Cranium is designed to be a team game, but it can be played with single players too. There can be up to four teams, and all players start at the same start point and must immediately choose a category.

We’ll talk more about the categories below in the rules section. If the player/ team succeeds in their question/ challenge, they roll the ten-sided dice and proceed to move around the board. If player’s get their first question wrong, they will have to wait and try again on their next turn.

Failing the first question also means a team will have to take a longer route to the end goal Cranium Central. The game isn’t over when one team gets to Cranium Central, either. Once there, the player/ team must complete four final questions/ challenges, one from each category.

The other teams can then choose one final challenge category for them to do. If the team in Cranium Central can answer this last question successfully, they win the game! But if they don’t, play moves to the next team, and they’ll have to wait for their next turn to try again.

What You’ll Need To Play?

To play the Cranium board game, you’ll, of course, need a game set. Despite its age, Cranium is still a very popular game, and finding a game set should be pretty straightforward. There are numerous different editions of Cranium, but the most popular has over 600 challenge cards included.

If you’re unsure which version to get, you can always buy Cranium online. When you open the box, you might be surprised by all the things included. But most of the equipment included are the challenge cards. These are split into four distinct categories and we’ll outline each of them below.


Sketch and Sculpt

Also known as Creative Cat, these blue cards will challenge you to either a drawing or sculpting activity. A small pot of clay and pads and pencils are included with the Cranium board game for this very purpose. These challenges often work like Pictionary, where you draw/ sculpt something for the rest of your team to guess.

Word Puzzles

Also known as Word Worm, these yellow cards are all word-based challenges and can include activities like spelling words, solving anagrams, fill-in-the-blank challenges, or explaining the definition of a word. Scrabble players will love these kinds of challenges.

Fun Facts

Also known as Data Head, these red cards are your general knowledge questions. Questions are generally basic trivia, truth or false, or sometimes include multiple choice answers.

Act and Hum

Also known as the Star Performer, these green cards will typically ask players to act out a scenario or activity. You may also have to do an impression of something or someone or hum a tune for others to guess. They generally play like Charades or the Concept board game.

Club Cranium

Specific cards (in each of the categories) will be marked with the Club Cranium stamp. If one of these cards is drawn, then all teams must do the challenge. The first team to get the correct answer will get a bonus roll of the dice.

Rules and Gameplay

Rules and Gameplay

The Aim of The Game

The aim of the Cranium board game is to be the first team to reach Cranium central! While this might sound easy, it will often be quite challenging. The key to winning at Cranium is to have a well-balanced team or skillset.

But most people will likely have at least one or two categories they dread. But even if you lose, you’ll still have plenty of fun and probably learn a thing or two. So, without further ado, let’s outline how you play Cranium.

The Setup

The first thing to do is deal with the equipment. Give each of the teams a paper pad and pencil, then place each of the challenge card boxes in the four corners of the board. They correspond to the color of the cards.

So, the Sketch and Sculpt cards will go in the blue section of the board. The timer and dice go in the center of the board. The four colored team tokens go at the start space. Once all this is done, you are ready to start playing.

Playing Cranium

The player whose birthday is coming next will go; first, play then moves to the team on the left, and so on. The start place is also a planet Cranium which are essentially wild zones, and this means before you can roll to move, you can pick any of the four challenge categories to complete.

If you succeed in the challenge, you can then roll the dice to move. Every team only moves on their colored segment of the board, and if you complete the Planet Cranium challenge, you can move to the lower fast track.

However, if you fail the challenge, you must take the longer track. On each turn, your team will only get one roll and only if you complete the challenge. The game follows this pattern, with each team taking rolls and completing challenges till one team reaches Cranium Central.

Winning Cranium

To win Cranium, your team must first reach Cranium Central. Once this is done, you must complete a challenge from each of the four categories. If you manage to do this, you have one final test.

The other teams can nominate a final challenge category for you to complete. If you complete this fifth and final challenge, you win Cranium! But if you lose at any point, your turn ends, and you’ll have to wait for your next turn to try again.

Cranium – An Educational Thrill-Ride!

Cranium got a lot of praise upon its release for managing to be both educational and fun. While the game can be challenging, win or lose, you’ll always come away with a sense of achievement and likely learn a thing or two. It’s a great family board game, especially with older teenage children.

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