I have been lucky enough to get a sneak preview of the Print and Play edition of Wordopolis - the new word game from Caper Games, which is hitting Kickstarter on the 22nd January. As you know I love a word game.
Wordopolis has reminded me of an important life lesson: you buy cheap*, you buy twice. If you take nothing else from this blog - remember that! My first print of Wordopolis was on 'cardboard' - I bought a pack of many sheets of this 'cardboard' very cheaply. It was like thick paper. It did allow me to have my first play-through of the game and realise that Wordopolis deserves printing on fine and beautiful card. Which - thriftily enough - you can buy books of from The Works for £3!
*The fact that I feel £3 is 'thrifty' but not 'cheap' tells you all you need to know about my budgeting skills.
So, once you've printed it on sufficiently elegant card... then what?
Shuffle the letter cards and place them in an 8 x 8 grid. Draw 4 cards and place some or all of them over letters in the grid to create new words. The grid works like a wordsearch - you can read in any direction as long as it is in a straight line.You score for new words created when you place the letters. The trick is to create as many new words as possible with the strategic placement of letters. While is only played over four rounds it requires a decent amount of thought and planning before placing letters. Think Scrabble rather than Boggle! There are bonuses to be scored dependent on the number of letters in words you create and extra bonuses if you create 10 or 15 new words. Additional care is needed because if you don't spot words you have created then the other player can claim those points. Even if it is your first play through of the game, your son might mercilessly steal points from you instead of letting you off which you would you have done for him. So just be aware of that - we don't want any unpleasantness.
This picture shows the 8 by 8 grid and also showcases my shuffling skills which are on a par with my dice rolling abilities.
An interesting anomaly
It bears mentioning that usually I can't get anyone to play word games with me because apparently I 'just win so it's pointless' so I was pleased that this has a solo variant. As soon as I set it out my son who is 13 took an interest in it and is enjoying playing it with me. I think it's because instead of making words from scratch you are using some parts of words or groups of letters from the grid so it is not just a test of vocabulary but also of observation. He has also beaten me a couple of times which may suggest that it plays differently to other word games or just that my brain is slowing with age. In the absence of actual science lets just go with - Wordopolis is a unique game: awesome in a range of ways!
It's good for your brain.
We have played as a group and I have played solo games -all equally enjoyable and rewarding. The game plays in the same way and there are no additional rules to read and learn.The solo game is a tough nut to crack - you need 1000 points to win. A feat I have yet to master. I am positive that it is achievable but it is certainly not very easy. Each time I play, I generally score higher so my brain is becoming attuned to the skill set required to beat it. The ability to improve is always a motivating factor and knowing that other play-testers have beaten the solo variant fills me with hope. (As well as a growing concern that my brain is turning into a fully soaked sponge and it is only a matter of time till bits of it fall off in the bath).
Other Good Bits!
The rules are really straightforward and easy to remember, and scoring and bonuses are on a separate card for quick reference. The randomised nature of the set up means that you can have endless variety in your games. I can't see myself ever tiring of this. Before I got Moveable Type (another awesome word game with a solo play option) I used to play Boggle or Bananagrams solo. They're great games - but playing solo, you are just aiming to do better than you did last time and each game stands in isolation. In the solo game of Wordopolis you are aiming for a set score to beat and the game is progressive. I love that most of the letters are already there, so any thinking or planning you do in the first round can benefit you later. When playing with others I much prefer games where the competitive element lies in doing your best and not expending energy trying to thwart someone else. As the thwartee in many of our household games it's always nice to be beaten without being completely destroyed! And as my family bemoan, an English degree gives me an edge in word games so there's even a chance I'll win. Wordopolis also lends itself well to an app and online version which will be available. But for me the lure of the cardboard is still too strong. I'll be there on January 22nd right at the front of the queue!
If you want to try it out, come to one our events and join me for a game.
Find out more about this game and Caper Games other fab titles (including Get Adler) here .