The CopyCat: How To Maximize Your Hints

A lot of people have been asking us about how we designed the Hints on each Topic Card. Some feel the Hints are totally unrelated to the Topics – a seemingly big disadvantage to CopyCats. I’m here to clear it up.

First off, the Hints are NOT meant to be directly related to the Topic like the words in Taboo. Sure, we could have made the Hints directly relate to the Topic to significantly help the CopyCats, especially if they were to go first. But initial play-testing proved that easy hints allowed CopyCats to guess the Topic quickly, often by just looking at the Hints. This makes it impossible for Humans to deduce who CopyCats are. 


Instead, Hints are often words or phrases that can be described similarly to the Topic, while maintaing a solid conceptual disconnect. This helps Humans describe the Topic while keeping the CopyCats out of the loop. The Easy Mode Hints (which we believe should always be used) provide more insight as to which direction and aspects of the Hints the Topic is more related to. Often times, it wouldn’t be a good idea for The CopyCat to just say their Hint.

This game design challenges players to think creatively and tap into deeper intuitions and connections. 

Let’s look at an example: the Topic Mall has the Hints Amusement Park and Fountain. At first glance, Amusement Park and Fountain are not really related to Mall that clearly and may easily give away the CopyCats’ identity if they say “Amusement Park”. Rather, CopyCats are advised to think about higher level associations or descriptions for Amusement Park or Fountain in hopes that they’d connect them to the Topic of Mall that they didn’t see. 


For instance, CopyCats may say “lots of people”, “long lines”, “outdoor”, or “fun”. All of these descriptions could trick the Humans into thinking the CopyCats are describing Mall. This doesn’t require CopyCats to have heard previous Human descriptions. And if they did, CopyCats might piece together the clues and come up with even better descriptions. Add in a little confidence, and CopyCats can easily trick Humans who are supposed to also stay vague/less connected in order to avoid CopyCats from guessing the Topic.

Sometimes, the CopyCat may be unlucky, going in a direction that is unrelated to the Topic. In our example, the CopyCat may say descriptions like “Ferris wheel”. That’s where player intuition plays a big role in determining which route to go with their Hints. A common strategy is giving more general descriptions such as “entertainment” rather than being too specific like “Ferris wheel”. Like real CopyCats trying to fit in, players have to hide their uncertainty, get creative, and take some risks!

Do you have what it takes to be a CopyCat?

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