Distraction Game Review

The Basics:

  • For ages 7 and up (publisher suggests 8+)
  • For 1 to many players
  • Variable game length (depends on number of players)

Geek Skills:

  • Active Listening
  • Reading
  • Memorization

Learning Curve:

  • Child – Easy
  • Adult – Easy

Theme & Narrative:

  • None


  • Gamer Geek rejected!
  • Parent Geek approved!
  • Child Geek approved!


It’s easy enough to go to your local gym and workout to strengthen your body, but adding “muscle” to your memory cannot be done by bench-pressing and running laps. Lucky for you, ThinkFun has the perfect game for you to flex your memory and give it that lean, mean 6-pack you’ve always wanted your brain to sport the next time you go the the beach. Get ready for some intense memorization and focus as you and a group of your friends attempt to out memorize each other and do your very best to not be distracted. Oh, look! A butterfly!……

Distraction is a card game that is comprised of two sets of cards. The first is a deck of 54 round Number cards. The second is a standard sized deck of 50 Distraction cards. These two decks will be used in the game, but remain separate from each other at all times.

Game Set Up

To set up the game, have all the players sit down around the playing area. Shuffle the Number and the Distraction decks, keeping them separate.

Place the shuffled Distraction deck face-down in the middle of the playing area where all the players can easy reach it. Decide, as a group, if you will be playing the blue questions or the purple questions. Note that there is no difference in difficulty or topic in regards to the different colored groups. The two groups are separated to allow the players to mix and match the questions and alternate between the different groups easily.

Deal out to each player the Number cards, face-down. For 1 to 3 players, deal to each 12 Number cards, removing all remaining cards from the game. If playing with 4 or more, deal all 54 Number cards out evenly, removing any remaining cards from the game.

Players keep their Number cards face-down at all times and do not look at them!

Once all the cards are dealt, each player reveals their top Number card. The player with the highest number goes first. All the players then reshuffle their Number deck, keeping it face-down.

You are now ready to play! Prepare your brain for some pain!

Of Numbers and Random Questions

Game play is very straight forward.

Starting with the first player (or any player starting a new round), their top most Number card is placed, face-up, in the middle of the playing area next to the Distraction deck. This is the start of the Number stack where all the Number cards will be played. The first player says the number out loud. For example, “Twelve!” Game play now continues clockwise with the next player.

The second player now flips over their top Number card, placing it face-up on the Number stack covering the top most Number card. The second player now says out loud the number on the Number card below their card and their card number. For example, “Twelve! Five!”

The third player now now flips over their top Number card, placing if face-up on the Number stack covering the top most Number card. The third player now says out loud the numbers on the Number cards below their card and their card number. For example, “Twelve! Five! Seven!”

As the round continues, so does the difficulty and the time to repeat the number sequence starting with the very first Number card played working all the way up to the last Number card played.

Play continues like this until one of two possible outcomes occur.

  • If a player is ever challenged and fails to correctly recite the numbers on the Number cards in played order.
  • If a player plays an orange Number card that causes the player to draw a Distraction card.


Whenever an orange Number card is played, it is placed on the top of the Number stack as all the other Number cards. However, before the player can recite all the numbers in the stack, they must first draw a Distraction card and answer the question asked by the card or perform a simple task as described on the card. The player reads the Distraction card out loud, answers it, and then recites the numbers in the Number stack.

The Distraction card is placed in the Distraction discard pile once used. If at anytime there are no longer any available Distraction cards, simply reshuffle the Distraction discard pile to create a new deck.

The questions in the Distraction deck range from super easy to somewhat difficult. For example, one Distraction card asks the player to state where they want to go on their next vacation while another Distraction card asks the player to say “Hello” in three different languages.

The tasks also range from easy to a bit more involved. For example, one Distraction card asks the player to close their eyes and try to touch their finger tips together and another Distraction card asks the player to bang out a drum beat on a table. All easy, but different levels of activity and focus.

The goal of the Distraction cards is, of course, to distract all the players in an attempt to keep them from remembering  the numbers in the Number stack.

How rude.

I Challenge!

At anytime, including after the player recites the numbers in the Number stack after a normal Number card is placed or after a Distraction card is played and the numbers recited, a player can “challenge” the player who just recited the numbers. Once a challenge has been given, the active player again recites the numbers in the correct order (or tries to) while the player who challenged picks up the Number stack and looks at the cards while the player recites from memory the proper order.

If the challenged active player gets the order right, the player who unsuccessfully challenged takes all the Number cards in the Number stack and adds them to their current Number cards, reshuffling their hand once they have done so.

If the challenged active player fails to recite the numbers correctly, they  take all the Number cards in the Number stack and add them to their current Number cards, reshuffling their hand once they have done so.

Regardless of the outcome, the player who lost the challenge now places one of their Number cards face-down creating a new Number stack and starting the next round of play.

On the off chance that there is a tie when a challenge is issued (two or more players shouting “Challenge!” at the same time), the player who called it first is the challenger. If it was too close to call easily, the group decides who is the challenger.

Winning the Game

The first player to play their last Number card on the Number stack and correctly recite the card order triggers the end game. All the other players now get one more round and a chance to tie the game. The game play continues as normal with the next player in clockwise order placing the first Number card to create the Number stack. Obviously, this is not possible in a 2-player game.

If there is a tie, the players who tied the game now have a final round to determine the winner. The Number cards are reshuffled and all the Number cards are now dealt out to the players evenly, setting any unused cards aside.

Play is completed as usual with each player taking a turn, however, a player is immediately eliminated if they lose a challenge. Once there is only one player left, that player is crowned champion and can now join everyone else in putting an ice pack on their head to help reduce the tremendous amount of heat coming from their cranium.

A Quick Word on Solo Play

Technically speaking, and according to the game rules, you can play this game solo. However, the rules that come with the game do not discuss solitaire play. The assumption here is that the player attempts to recite the numbers in the stack, completing any Distraction cards, and then ends the game when they can no longer recite the number sequence correctly. At which time, the player would need to review the Number stack, essentially challenging themselves.

To learn more about the game, visit the game’s official web site.


Memory games can be a lot of fun and are always challenging, but I cannot emphasis enough how important it is to ensure your timing is right before attempting to play such games. If you or your little geeks are tired, avoid playing memory games at all costs. Your level of lethargy will drastically reduce your effectiveness as a player and I can almost guarantee that your younger geeks are going to get immensely aggravated. In truth, the same could be said for almost all games and any activity in your life, but memory based games need their players to be well rested, focused, and most of all, willing to play.

That being said, it took a few days to get this game on the table. My little geeks as of late have been suffering through colds and lack of sleep. For the most part, I only get to play and introduce new games to my little geeks in the evenings and on the weekends. If I get home late from the office or my sons are in a particularly grouchy mood, we avoid playing board, dice, or card games and instead focus on lighter activities such as reading books or listening to music.

When the stars and moons did finally align correctly, I sat my oldest little geek down to teach him the game. My 4-year-old had no interest at the time and was content to play with Minotaurus. As my 4-year-old built an elaborate labyrinth with LEGO bits, I taught my 7-year-old Distraction. As you have already read in the overview, the game is very straight forward and not very rules heavy. It didn’t take any longer than a brief explanation and a few examples before my little geek was ready to play.

While I shuffled the cards and set the playing area, I asked my son his thoughts on the game so far.

“I like it! Seems really hard, but I like how you are asked silly things while you are playing.” ~ Liam (age 7)

And just because he was at the table, my 4-year-old wanted to add his thoughts, too.

“Liam is going to win, Daddy! Go get him, Liam!” ~ Nyhus (age 4)

Ha! I love it when the kids team up on me. Even though my 4-year-old isn’t playing, he is very much in his older brother’s corner. Excellent. Let’s play a few games and see if the game is a winner or just another box to put on the game shelf.

Final Word

Distraction is one of those games you are either going to love or are going to have an unquestionable dislike for. I doubt there is a happy medium. I think it plays well to those who like a challenge but not a lot of commitment. Certainly, those who enjoy memory games are going to have a blast with Distraction. It really makes you focus in and pay attention. When the Distraction card is played and you are forced to suddenly switch your mental gears to think about something else, it can seem like a grueling task to keep the number sequence in your short-term memory. Here is where the game really shines and sets itself apart from other memory games as it forces the player to think then think again, challenging their ability to remember, recall, and react. Few memory games provide such a level of difficulty.

For those who do not care for memory games, avoid Distraction at all cost. It might help you to imagine that Distraction is like an angry Mob and you are the Monster. If the two of you should ever meet, disaster will ensue. Seldom have I seen such sour faces from players as they feel forced to remember meaningless random number sequences and are then required to complete an arbitrary task to boot. Never mind that this is the very concept of the game, it just didn’t resonate with some of the players. That’s fine; not everyone likes memory games.

If you are currently thinking that Distraction sounds like a punishing game, it most certainly can be. If you slip up, you are going to take a tremendous hit in the game by being penalized with more Number cards. What is being tested in the game is the player’s memory span and for those who are doing poorly in the game, their ability to cope with the stress. It’s never fun to lose and even less fun to be placed in a situation where you are having trouble focusing and regaining lost ground.

By the time we had finished our second game, my 7-year-old was exhausted and declined a third game. He did very well but never won. Adults will have a real advantage over the little geeks if they have learned tricks to help them associate digital sequences, no matter how random, in their short-term memory. These are just “tricks” we have learned over time. For the little geeks, who do not have the level of experience or any reason as of yet to learn these tricks, they will be at a disadvantage. This did not stop my 7-year-old from having fun, however, and he and I enjoyed ourselves a great deal. It was fun to push our own limits and see how far we could push each other.

My little geek quickly reads the Distraction card, while I do my best not to lose track of the numbers myself!

Gamer Geeks, this is a fun and challenging memory game but not for you game elitists. It is too linear in game play and does not allow for any real depth of strategy or tactics other than those mental tricks you bring to the table that help you remember things in the short-term. The game play is quick and the level of difficulty quickly ramps up. In truth, it looks like an excellent Gamer’s game on the surface, but after a few plays you quickly realize it is just not enough to make it as a requested game at the gaming table. A shame as many a Gamer geeks could use the mental workout.

Parent Geeks, this is an outstanding and very challenging memory game. It will bring into sharp focus the need for the players to pay close attention to be as competitive as possible. There is an easy learning curve to the game but there are some giant mental hurdles that the players will bring to the table. The good news is that one player’s hardship is another player’s advantage. How the players leverage these will be the deciding factor in the game. Unlike other memory games, there is a built in equalizer that attempts to tackle the differences in skill and ability by throwing in a random distracting element. This can be a source of great enjoyment and frustration. Even the most skilled of memory players will be hard pressed to recall a 10-digit memory sequence after they have to complete a random event on the Distraction card. The game also plays exceedingly well with a mixed age group and skill level, be they gamers or non-gamers, and can fit a large number of players. This makes Distraction into an excellent party game, as well, and a great one to bring to your next family gathering.

Child Geeks, prepare your brains for some engaging and challenging memorization! You will need to pay close attention to the numbers and then recall them all on your turn. If you ever feel that the game is going too fast, tell everyone to slow down! The game is about memory, not speed, after all. This is a great opportunity for you to learn how to keep track of larger and larger sets of numbers. While you might not be as good at it as you would like at first, I can guarantee that your ability to play stronger will improve the more times you play. You are, in many respects, just like a weightlifter, but instead of strengthening you’re muscles, you’re strengthening your mind! If that’s not a great thing, I simply do not know what is.

Distraction is distracting but in a very good way. We found the game to be an excellent time at the gaming table, engaging all the participants and keeping everyone on their toes. The games can be played quickly or as slowly as people like. For this reason, we highly suggest you keep the game slow for the little geeks to allow them to keep up with the numbers being played and those they are keeping track of in their heads. When you are playing with adults or older little geeks, feel free to ramp up the speed to a frantic pace! The game allows you to easy shift and shape the experience presenting both a wonderful challenge and a good time for all. Do play Distraction whenever you have the opportunity to do so! Just make sure you stretch your brain before you play to avoid any injury. We suggest reciting the alphabet backwards.

This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.

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About Cyrus

Editor in Chief, Owner/Operator, Board Game Fanatic, Father of Three, and Nice Guy, Cyrus has always enjoyed board, card, miniature, role playing, and video games, but didn't get back into the hobby seriously until early 2000. Once he did, however, he was hooked. He now plays board games with anyone and everyone he can, but enjoys playing with his children the most. Video games continue to be of real interest, but not as much as dice and little miniatures. As he carefully navigates the ins and outs of parenting, he does his very best to bestow what wisdom he has and help nurture his children's young minds. It is his hope and ambition to raise three strong, honorable men who will one day go on to do great things and buy their Mom and Dad a lobster dinner. Cyrus goes by the handle fathergeek on Board Game Geek. You can also check him out on CyrusKirby.com. Yes, he has a URL that is his name. His ego knows no bounds, apparently....

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