Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Three New Word Games

Scrabblette and the kid and I, and my sister and her family, went to beautiful Bundaberg on the weekend to visit my baby sister and her baby daughter. And Pete. PETE HUNGRY! PETE EAT BABY! Here's a gratuitous baby photo because she's so cute:

As there were a lot of us (7 and a dog) we rented a house for the weekend, right on the beach. So close to the beach that Miss Swimming Fanatic heard the ocean as soon as we arrived (at 11pm) and begged at the door to be allowed out to go for a swim. There was a lot of this:

DOG SMELL LIKE FISH! PETE EAT FISH! By my count, I took the dog to the beach 4 times, Scrabblette took her at least twice, and Uncle Scott took her once or twice. And she still spent most of her time sulking about not being allowed to go out.

Anyway, on with the story. The games I managed to play over the weekend were all word games and all were new to me.


Wordrop is a simple game for 2 or 4 players, though I really don't understand why it wouldn't work for 3 or even 5. You have a plastic frame like a Connect 4 frame and you drop letters into it - one letter per turn. You score one point per letter for every word you make that includes that letter, reckoned upside down, inside out, backwards, forwards, any which way. With a well-placed I it's easy to make 9 points with IF, IT, ITS and ID, so we figured it was primarily a game of making 2 letter words.
When all 100 letter tiles are placed the game ends and highest score wins. This game was a bit unusual in that there is no randomness - players get to choose any tile they want. However I doubt two games will be the same.

I think Wordrop is a great game for learning two letter words for Scrabble, but otherwise not very interesting. In my game I beat my sister by about as many points as she forgot to score.

Pick Two!

Pick Two is a crossword game. There are 240 letter tiles. Each player (from 2 to 6) starts by drawing 8 and arranging them into a crossword using "valid" words. When someone has completed their crossword they say "pick two" and everybody takes 2 tiles and has to rearrange their crossword to fit them in. When you've run out of tiles to draw everybody scores points (and that's bad) for the letters they haven't placed into their crossword yet.

I liked this game because it was very tense. I was playing against Scrabblette using only 180 tiles. She started off very fast and called "pick two" quite a few times while I was stuck with stupid Vs. She also got a lot more wilds than I did! I got my act together and caught up as she drew some Qs. We only played 1 round of a recommended 5.

Scrabblette didn't like it so much because there was no player interaction. I liked it because I totally trust Scrabblette to make legal words and I felt under pressure for the whole round (maybe 10 minutes?). When a game gets me pumped like that I enjoy it. Scrabblette suggests a cooperative variant may suit her better, whereas I'd like to try it with 6 players.

Word Jam
The final game we played for the weekend was Word Jam. PETE wasn't around to EAT GAME, and Trixi doesn't know any words yet so she didn't play either. However everyone else did, from the 6 year old to the venerable Scrabblette.

In Word Jam you deal 5 consonant cards. One of those consonants is worth 1 point, one is worth 2, two are worth 3, and one is banned. There's also a random category that you must make words from, like Scattergories. In the picture W is worth 1, H worth 2, G worth 3, L worth 3, and S is banned. The category was "singers". I thought of the Wiggles, which contains an S and so is not allowed. "George Thorogood" would have been worth 11 points (3 Gs, 1 H) and would have won me the game if I'd thought of it then! "George Thorogood and the Delaware Destroyers" would be worth 0 points because of the S.

Anyway, each round new consonants and a new category are dealt. Players then think of a word until someone thinks they have a good one and says "Open Sesame!". That player then becomes Ali Baba. The other players then choose to side with either Ali Baba or the thieves. Players then have 20 seconds to think of a better word. If one of the thief players can give a better word he becomes Head Thief. If Ali Baba had the best word, he gets some points and the players who sided with him get fewer. If the Head Thief beat Ali Baba, then he and the other thieves get some points. As the game proceeds the points awarded become higher. After 8 rounds whoever has the most points wins.

I didn't go for this game particularly, as the Scattergories thing doesn't attract me at all. On the other hand, even the 6 year old was able to play a creditable game, and that's got to be good for a word game. In fact, in the last round only non-gamer-elder-niece and 6yo-gamer-nephew scored any points at all. Sister won this game fairly comfortably. My strategy was to always bet on Scrabblette finding a better word, but it appears this sort of game is not her forte either and we went down together.

Not long after we had to start the long long drive home, only stopping in to visit my dad for Father's Day. PETE DRINK ALONE. YEAH WITH NOBODY ELSE.


Maria said...

I think someone showed me a game of Pick Two, somewhat modified, they called it "Take Two" and they played it using Scrabble Tiles. I thought they'd just made it up to vary Scrabble. Wasn't a big fan myself, especially using Scrabble Tiles. I'd rather play Scrabble.

Nicholas said...

I just played pick two this weekend, for the first time, and man, I loved it. Played with scrabble tiles.