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Simon Taylor
Australia
Live in Perth, Australia
Born and bred in Britain
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I've played boggle for years - it's been the family favourite since my age was in single figures.

Rules:
- Few/Some/Many/Loads
- Intuitive/Medium/Confusing

Parts:
- Few/Many
- Plastic/Wood/Card
- Low/Medium/High Quality

Interaction:
- None/Some/Much/Loads

Luck:
- None/Little/Some/Much/Loads

Memory:
- None/Little/Some/Much/Loads

Fun:
- Silly/Amusing/Mild/Serious

Strategies/Methods for Winning:
- One/Two/Some/Lots

Tactics During Game (adapting to situations):
- None/Few/Some/Lots

Ability to Pick on Winning Player
- None/Some/Lots

Time (mins):
- under 30/30-60/60-120/over 120

Summary:

You find words from the grid, and after three minutes, the person with the most words that no-one else has found will win. With a few bonus points for long words. The basic strategies are either to get as many words as you possibly can, and win through sheer volume, or spend more time searching for long words and win through high-scoring quality words. The little memory required is a good vocabulary - particularly of obscure three-letter words - and the little luck is the fact that when you compare words you've found, if two of you have been particularly concentrating on one area of the board, and one other has concentrated on another corner, the first two are more likely to cancel out each others' scores. But play a few rounds, and this cancels out.

We find that Dad's vocabulary is vastly different to Mum's and Sister's, so Mum and Sister often cancel each other out, leaving Dad to get more points. But since Mum and Sister have better vocabularies and see more words, they do better than Dad. And Sister and I do best overall because we are quickest to see the words and write them down.

It's worth getting a dictionary as you would for scrabble, and a timer that beeps to tell you when the three minutes are up (or you never notice time is up).

Why do we love it so? It's so quick to play - as many three minute rounds as you have time for - that it's often possible to squeeze it in brief intervals. We can have a good laugh over the number of words my sister guesses and hopes are in the dictionary, and the number of words that are in my mum's vocabulary that we've never heard of. We all have a special boggle vocabulary of words like "dag" and "ain" that are not in normal UK vocabulary but pop up lots in Boggle and at some point in the distant past, my sister guessed and found in the dictionary. It's something everyone will play, and is far less involved than something like scrabble. It's also possible for young children to play - just allow them to have two-letter words as well, or score for any word they get even if others have it too - and they can then compete well with adults.

Note: The edition you get matters - and I'm not talking about the difference between Boggle and Big Boggle and Boggle Junior or whatever, but between different publications of the basic Boggle game. The old edition has far harder letter combinations on the cubes. This is by far the better version. The newer version has easier letters, making it easier (too easy) to get long words. In the new version, you really need to extend the three-minute time limit and/or disallow 3-letter words, or there are just too many to get, and it becomes luck of the draw as to whose lists happen to overlap and cancel out. There is no mention on the boxes that this change has been made, and I only noticed when I played on a new version and was amazed how easy I was finding it. I was so suspicious I went and checked the dice. Geeky details below:

-----

I recently played a game with friends on their set (a pretty recent UK version with a blue box). I was amazed how easy I was finding it to get words. So I went and compared it to my old version (c1976, yellow box, sold in the UK). They've very different indeed.

New Version | Old Version
AAEEGN | AACIOT
ELRTTY | AHMORS
AOOTTW | EGKLUY
ABBJOO | ABILTY
EHRTVW | ACDEMP
CIMOTU | EGINTV
DISTTY | GILRUW
EIOSST | ELPSTU
DELRVY | DENOSW
ACHOPS | ACELRS
HIMNQU | ABJMOQ
EEINSU | EEFHIY
EEGHNW | EHINPS
AFFKPS | DKNOTU
HLNNRZ | ADENVZ
DEILRX | BIFORX


Distribution:
A: vi | viii | -2
B: ii | iii | -1
C: ii | iii | -1
D: iii | iiii | -1
E: xi | x | +1
F: ii | ii | .
G: ii | iii | -1
H: v | iii | +2
I: vi | vii | -1
J: i | i | .
K: i | ii | -1
L: iiii | v | -1
M: ii | iii | -1
N: vi | v | +1
O: vii | vi | +1
P: ii | iii | -1
Q: i | i | .
R: v | iiii | +1
S: vi | v | +1
T: viiii | v | +4
U: iii | iiii | -1
V: ii | ii | .
W: iii | ii | +1
X: i | i | .
Y: iii | iii | .
Z: i | i | .



As you can see, the new version has removed many of the more awkward B, C, D, G, K, L, M and P which don't tend to help form long words, and have added more H, N, R, S, T and W, which tend to form longer words. It's also amended the vowels, taking a less helpful A and I to become a more useful E and O.

The new version is so easy that my friends had long-ago decided not to allow three-letter words at all - and even with this rule, in the few games I played, the new game with words of four letters and above was easier than the old one with three letters and above...

I highly recommend the old version, if you can get hold of it. Otherwise, be prepared to find a game that is very easy and is just a race to see who can write quickest - or extend the three-minute playing time, which would make the intense writing period a bit too long for me.

Edit:
There are lots of versions out there. The old version referenced above is this one:


The new version referenced above is this one:



[Edit: changed CIMOTV to CIMOTU in the list of new cubes after pointed out in comments below that is a typo, sorry!]
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Garry Rice
United States
Perkasie
Pennsylvania
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Appreciate the notice that they've changed the game in newer versions. I enjoy the older version, but would never think to check the letters on the dice or that they might change them!

I would question whether I would say the interaction is non-existent - we have alot of fun with the word comparing after the word search, and there's alot of interaction there. When it comes to finding words, I agree, there's no interaction, but I would suggest that the word comparing is also a very large part of the game...

Great review! Thanks again for the research!
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Simon Taylor
Australia
Live in Perth, Australia
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Yes, I suppose by no interaction I meant that technically, none is required - you could technically play the game without interacting, and then feed the words into a computer to do the cancellations and work out who got the most points.

As you say, in actual fact, much of the joy of the game revolves around seeing what other people have got. For mocking Sister for getting another made-up-three-letter-word that finds its way into the dictionary, or marvelling at Mum for having got some dodgy eighteenth-century word for a hairpin, or laughing at Dad for getting odd three letter words like "Ado" and "Ole" (as in 'Ole King Cole', we're reminded every single time without fail) that no-one else notices for the third round in a row, or cursing the fact you got 'Wear' but missed 'Weary', 'Wears' and 'Swear'.

As for the dice changes - I never thought to look until I got beaten in the new version by someone who got two eight-letter and one nine-letter words in the same round - when I'd never seen more than one eight-letter word in an entire session in the past. I only checked because I was bitter I'd lost by two points in the final round to a nine-letter word ;-)
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Dan Nunuyerbiznez
United States
Unspecified
Nevada
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We play a modified version of the rules, largely to simplify scoring.

No 3 letter words.

Each word is worth number of letters minus 3.

We use a digital timer with a "bell," set to 1:45. At the bell, we reset the timer and rotate the board 180 degrees.

(We play with the old set of letter cubes).

Works for us. The kids got to play 3 letter words, and got n - 2 points, when they were small, and it was competitive!

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different versions
psymann wrote:
the new version has removed many of the more awkward B, C, D, G, K, L, M and P which don't tend to help form long words, and have added more H, N, R, S, T and W, which tend to form longer words. It's also amended the vowels, taking a less helpful A and I to become a more useful E and O.


Thanks, that's an interesting discovery.

Here's the old version data, sorted and by frequency. I used it for a toy program I wrote a while back, but maybe someone else will find it useful or interesting. I'll post the Big Boggle data, too, for completeness.

Read "q" as "Qu". Groupings are merely for readability:

aaciot
abilty
abjmoq
acdemp

acelrs
adenvz
ahmors
bfiorx

denosw
dknotu
eefhiy
egintv

egkluy
ehinps
elpstu
gilruw


Challenge Cube (in some editions)
iklmqu


By Frequency - excluding Challenge Cube
10 e
8 a
7 i
6 o
5 lnst
4 dru
3 bcghmpy
2 fkvw
1 jqxz
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Gregor Jochmann
Germany
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psymann wrote:

As for the dice changes - I never thought to look until I got beaten in the new version by someone who got two eight-letter and one nine-letter words in the same round - when I'd never seen more than one eight-letter word in an entire session in the past. I only checked because I was bitter I'd lost by two points in the final round to a nine-letter word ;-)


Ok now this got me thinking. I consider myself a fairly competent Boggle Hero cool, playing since many years. I own the old german version (dice distribution see below). In our games, words with 7 or more letters hardly ever occur. 7-letter words maybe once in 10 rounds, 8 letter words once in a year and i remember having found a "holy grail nine-letter word" just once in my lifetime.

Here comes the dice analysis:
Dices: PTESUL, ENTVIG, PEDCAM, RESCAL, VANZED, RILWEU, FEESIH, TONKEU, RESNIH, ,TAAEIO, ENTSOD, BOQJAM, ROSMAI, YUNGLE, FOXRAI, BARTIL

Letters by occurence count:
13 E
9 A
8 I
6 N, O, R, S, T
5 L
4 U
3 D, M
2 B, C, F, G, H, P, V
1 J, K, Q, W, X, Y, Z
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Simon Taylor
Australia
Live in Perth, Australia
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Grumpf wrote:
In our games, words with 7 or more letters hardly ever occur. 7-letter words maybe once in 10 rounds, 8 letter words once in a year and i remember having found a "holy grail nine-letter word" just once in my lifetime.


Yep, that sounds about the standard of the original game I had. I still remember the one Holy Grail word, which was Quotients, and was found by my sister five seconds _after_ the timer had run out! Adding both Quotient and Quotients to her score would have put her two points ahead of me to win, so I was glad we'd been using a buzzer instead of the sand timer and finished after exactly 3 mins!

So after hundreds of rounds, that's still the nearest we've had to a nine-letter word in play as far as I can remember. Eight is very very rare, seven deserve a big smug grin, and six is the normal highlight of a good round. With the worst rounds, you're sometimes lucky to get four.

Yet with the new version, you can feel upset if you've not got a handful of five- and six-letter ones every round.
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Chris Halaska
United States
Eugene
Oregon
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Thanks so much for the cube/letter breakdown. I just used it to produce a complete game from a bunch of Boggle cubes I found at a thrift store.

One thing I noticed is that either you have a typo, or there's been one subtle change in editions:
- the cube you have marked as "CIMOTV" in the set I have is "CIMOTU".

I don't have the box for the set I found, but the cube shaker has a square blue base, transparent blue cover, and white letter cubes with blue letters.

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...game pleasure in wood
United States
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The version listed on BGG as the Parker Brothers 1987 USA edition states on its box "NOW WITH A REVISED LETTER ASSORTMENT!".

I checked the cubes in my 1983 USA Parker Brothers Challenge Cube edition, and the letter distribution is EXACTLY as in your chart under the "old" edition.

So 1987 might have been the dividing line between the new and old letter distribution...
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Justin Case
United States
Greensboro
North Carolina
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psymann wrote:

New Version | Old Version
AAEEGN | AACIOT
ELRTTY | AHMORS
AOOTTW | EGKLUY
ABBJOO | ABILTY
EHRTVW | ACDEMP
CIMOTV | EGINTV
DISTTY | GILRUW
EIOSST | ELPSTU
DELRVY | DENOSW
ACHOPS | ACELRS
HIMNQU | ABJMOQ
EEINSU | EEFHIY
EEGHNW | EHINPS
AFFKPS | DKNOTU
HLNNRZ | ADENVZ
DEILRX | BIFORX




Thanks to psymann for bringing this to our attention, and for others who contributed to the knowledge on this topic as well. With this information, I knew to troll eBay for a bit to find a bargain on one of the older sets to go alongside the "Boggle Lite" that I had thrifted a few weeks ago.

The set which arrived today does indeed have the older original letter/cube distribution. It is this one, in case the information is helpful to anyone else:


It is the Parker Brothers 1980 edition.

meeple
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Justin Case
United States
Greensboro
North Carolina
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x2fer wrote:

Thanks so much for the cube/letter breakdown. I just used it to produce a complete game from a bunch of Boggle cubes I found at a thrift store.

One thing I noticed is that either you have a typo, or there's been one subtle change in editions:
- the cube you have marked as "CIMOTV" in the set I have is "CIMOTU".


I don't have the box for the set I found, but the cube shaker has a square blue base, transparent blue cover, and white letter cubes with blue letters.


I'm quite interested in this one myself.... I just went to go fetch the game that I thrifted a few weeks ago, and my set has the C-I-M-O-T-U cube as well.

The version I am using as a reference here is this one:


Interestingly enough, my box does not have the "Now with a revised letter assortment!" notation; I'll get it scanned and submitted to the database in short order.

Hopefully psymann will revisit the thread in short order to give us a verification one way or the other. In the meantime, I wonder which cube other folks have?

meeple
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Simon Taylor
Australia
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I expect you're right about the typo - I can't check because the "new" version I looked at was owned by a friend who lives far away and I sneaked a look at it and copied all the letters down quickly while they weren't looking ;-)

Since V and U look similar (especially as my handwriting is dreadful), I expect I wrote down "U" and then later read it as "V" by mistake.

I'll edit the original post accordingly, well noticed, thanks :-D


--- in fact, just been to edit it, and found that the distribution of V's and U's I'd given were only correct if that was indeed a CIMOTU cube, so it surely must have been a U, apologies for typo! :-)
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