This is the second installment of a series of articles, in which I take a look back at some of the new games I've played and explored in the past year. Today's category: Word Games.
My award for Best Word Game goes to Montage. It's been around for a while, but has just appeared in a great new edition after being nearly impossible to find for years, and is a fantastic partnership game for four players. From the same designer comes a terrific two player game, What's My Word? which would be a worthy winner as well. In passing I mention a great new word game that I learned last year, the relatively new Prolix, where the main concept is to come up with words that use some of the point-scoring consonants on the game board, but you are not restricted to using those letters only (link to review). Of the word games you learned this year, what was your favourite?
Montage is a holy grail among word games, fetching ridiculous prices on eBay and elsewhere until this reprint. Strictly for four players, it sees players work in partnerships, playing tiles with colours corresponding to letters, and giving crossword style clues with the aim of having their partner try to guess the chosen word before the opposing partnership. Clever, tense, fun, and an all round solid game.
Want to know more? See my full review: Ender's Comprehensive Pictorial Overview: A holy grail among word games gets a welcome reprint
What's My Word?
if you are among those who enjoy logic or deduction games, and don't mind playing around with words, you'll likely find a very satisfying game in this box. There's good reason that What's My Word? was deemed worthy of a reprint after first appearing almost 40 years ago! Gryphon Games have done well to release the game not just with a simple score pad, but in an attractive folder that makes for a very pleasing and classy looking package. Some great scoring elements have been added to the traditional Mastermind mechanic, to turn this into a deductive word game that really works well. A very good two player game, if you're the target market. Recommended.
Want to know more? See my full review: A Comprehensive Pictorial Overview: A classy and clever Mastermind-style deduction game with words
BuyWord is a word game from master designer Sid Sackson, yet it struggled to get published due to a very crowded field largely dominated by games like Scrabble and Boggle. When it finally appeared in 2004, a couple of years after Sackson's death, it went on to win Games Magazine Game of the Year award in 2005, and many consider it a "modern classic in the making". Its 2011 release in a deluxe edition should be welcome news.
Let's be honest that the genre of word games isn't everybody's cup of tea. But this one is different, because it introduces a simple economy to the game. The letter tiles in the game have dots on them, and the amount of dots in a collection of tiles will determine its buying and selling price. Players first must buy tiles, and then try to sell them at a profit ideally by making large words with lots of dots.
The economic element that Sackson has incorporated presents an interesting twist on the traditional point-scoring model associated with most word games, and works really well. It avoids some of the pitfalls associated with Scrabble, which can reward players for knowledge of obscure short words. The game is also very accessible for non-gamers, and has a very broad appeal. It also works outstandingly as a solitaire challenge. In BuyWord, Sid Sackson has produced a word game that deserves to be a modern classic among word games.
Want to know more? See my full review: Ender's Comprehensive Pictorial Overview: Eat your heart out Cult-of-the-New! A deceased master designer brings us a living modern classic
Make Five is an interesting word game that's largely flown under the radar despite being from a more mainstream publisher. Letter tiles are drawn, to determine letters that all players place simultaneously in their own 5x5 grid, trying to create point scoring words. It's the kind of game that could be enjoyed by fans of Scrabble and other word games. The public domain game Word Squares which inspired Make Five is worth trying at zero cost if this kind of game sounds like it might be of interest to you.
Want to know more? See my full review: Ender's Comprehensive Pictorial Overview: A fun word game that happens when you combine Scrabble with elements of Bingo
Join the discussion: What is the best new word game that you learned in the past year? And if you have played any of above mentioned games, what did you think of them?
Read the whole series: My 2011 in Review: A look back at some new games