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Subject: Bananagrams - Playing Bananagrams without the rules rss

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Lance Hampton
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I love the Banagrams, I just hate the game.

Let me explain...

First for a good explanation of gameplay I won't duplicate the already good review by singingdragon.

The goal of the game is ostensibly to build a crossword from your tiles. But until the tiles from the draw pile are depleted, you aren't really playing for anything. If you complete a crossword with all your tiles, then everyone draws one tile. This, of course, is most detrimental to the one person who has no extra tiles to work with that single tile. Sure, you could get more by dumping it but it feels artificial.

The only way to end the game is for the draw pile to be reduced to fewer tiles than players and for a player to build a crossword from all their tiles. One strategy would be to just sit there until the tiles are gone and complete your crossword.

So I don't play the game, but I play a lot of Bananagrams. There is just so much to love about the game without the game.

What's to Love (Part I) - The Components

The components are 144 bakelite tiles with a decent distribution of letters. These won't break, dirt/dust/dinner won't stick to them. They bounce loudly off the tile making them easy to follow when dropped. There is no gameboard, just use any flat surface in front of you.

What's to Love (Part II) - It's Not Scrabble

Not that I hate Scrabble. I quite like it. The obvious similarity to Scrabble is the tileset. Lots of letter tiles and you build them into a crossword. It will use the same part of your brain that takes an assortment of letters and forms them into words.

Vive la différence as they say. The differences are substantial though. You don't play against other people. Nobody will come along and clobber that U that you so desparately need to unload your Q. Also, you have a whole lot more than 7 letters at any one time. If you have 20+ letters, the odds are extremely long that you'll be completely stuck with all vowels or consonants. Everyone who has ever stared down AEIIIII should sympathize. For every handful of 20-30 tiles, I've only once been unable to complete a crossword from them and I might have finished it that time but we had to walk out the door for dinner.

Since you're playing with a lot more tiles, you can create a lot more words. Scrabble is about finding that one word from 7 tiles plus one or two on the board. This is about finding those words that will unload your trouble tiles and build a skeleton so you can hang the easy letters off the edges to complete.

You can rearrange your crossword any time. Try that in a Scrabble tournament. Any time you feel like it, you can move your tiles around and restructure your crossword. This is common once you have the backbone of your crossword going, you might undo a word to get more letters to use with those last few in your hand. I also find myself pulling off a questionable word and rearranging to more common words.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Bananagrams

So I don't like the game, what could I possibly do without the playing the game? I just play. No game, just play.

1. Grab a handful of tiles
2. Make a crossword
3. Grab more tiles
4. Rearrange to complete another crossword

All the brainy fun, no time pressure, no obligation to draw tiles.

I'm most likely to play this game during dinner. I'll pull out the bag, grab a handful of tiles for myself, my wife and my son. I'll even give a few tiles at a time to my 3 year old daughter so she can spell her name. She can currently make a crossword using her name and her brother's name. Ok, it's just 6 letters (only 5 tiles), but it's a start.

As we're not engaged in a game or worrying about time, we can work directly to complete or try for a long or cool word. Our current house rule is anything must be spelled as it would be written in a sentence.

Additionally, playing as I do, it is quite enjoyable as a solo venture.

Being that the tiles are indestructible and easy to clean and I can just play, Bananagrams makes it onto my dinner table regularly, making other appearances at night for me to unwind or in the evenings playing word games with the kids.


Which brings us to the bottom line
------------ I have fun playing with Bananagrams -------------
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Chris Ferejohn
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I like the game with the rules as written (though I always start with 15 tiles/person regardless of number of players), but I will be the first to admit that having a big bag of indestructible bakelite letters is cool in and of itself.
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j b Goodwin

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cferejohn wrote:
I will be the first to admit that having a big bag of indestructible bakelite letters is cool in and of itself.


And a big BANANA-shaped bag, at that!
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Just call me Erik
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cferejohn wrote:
I like the game with the rules as written (though I always start with 15 tiles/person regardless of number of players), but I will be the first to admit that having a big bag of indestructible bakelite letters is cool in and of itself.


I thought, as I saw Bananagrams on the shelf at the craft store, "If there's anything an amateur game designer needs, it's a bag of letter tiles."

I like Bananagrams, but I do think the mechanic of how to draw more tiles is weak. "Peel" should trigger more than 1 draw at a time. Or, you should be able to "Peel", but just for yourself, more than once.

Nothing like having a completed crossword and drawing a Z.
 
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Lance Hampton
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Yea, if you have 3 people, you still have half or more of the tiles out. That means 20 PEEL's before the game ends. So what are you playing for the first 19 of them? I'd really be tempted to DUMP a dozen or so times just to load up on letters.

Whatever, it's fun to play while eating. I can make cool words, I can make hard words, long words. The only constraint I play by is completing a crossword with exactly the tiles I pull in one handful.
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Wes Jones
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That means 20 PEEL's before the game ends. So what are you playing for the first 19 of them? I'd really be tempted to DUMP a dozen or so times just to load up on letters.


If you wait until you have your full compliment of letters before you start building words then you're awfully far behind the people who only have a couple left to use up. At least that's how the game has played for me every time I've played it.

For me, for those other 19 turns you mentioned the challenge isn't just to use up your letters, it's to use up your letters in such a way that you can quickly accomodate new letters. You don't want to be starting from scratch every time someone yells peel.

I'm not trying to convince you to like the game, I'm just not sure why your first 19 turns haven't had that same quick pace that I've had when I play. In my experience the game is a race the whole time, and you definitely want to be the one yelling "peel," not just sitting back and waiting for more letters.
 
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