Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Word On The Street

Word games are something most of us have played at one time, or another, whether it’s the old pen-and-paper Hangman’s Noose, or the classic Scrabble or more recent Boggle.
Word games are great in that they are educational in regards to expanding vocabulary and of course working the brain a bit at the same time you’re having fun.
A new game which enters the fray in terms of games of the genre is Word on the Street. This is a brand new game, created by Jack Degnan and released by Out of The Box this year.
As you might expect Word on the Street is all about creating words.
The game comes with 17 plastic letter tiles which are placed alphabetically down the center of the board. Vowels are missing, as are j, q, x, and z.
The game can be played with two to eight people, with players divided into two teams which take turns thinking of words which fit their category card.
The cards cover categories such as ‘a string instrument’, ‘the last name of a comedian’ or ‘a type of pepper’. Teams must come up with words which fit the card from the words available on the board. A 30-second sand timer is turned when the category card is flipped, and you must agree to a word and move the letters before time runs out. Of course that is where the challenge comes from, working under the pressure of the falling sand.
Letters contained in the chosen word are pulled one lane closer to the edge of the board, and eventually are slid all the way off, scoring that team a point.
On the other team's turn, for their category word they try to use and slide the remaining letters to their side of the board, while keeping in mind any letters that the opposing team have moved dangerously close to their edge. This is of course a major strategy of the game. You need to be able to pull your opponent's letters back across the board, so you are always looking for words which incorporate the most ‘at-risk’ letters.
The game essentially is a tug-of-war scenario with players trying to get letters dragged to their side to score points, while opponents are trying to drag them back their way.
The categories are quite diverse, and certainly several are rather challenging for ‘classical composers’ to ‘a mushroom’ -- really how many different types of mushroom does the average person know?
The cards are where the game could naturally see an expansion, simply adding new categories for players to have to deal with.
The letter tiles are heavy molded plastic, so they will last, and the board is typical heavy cardboard.
The box gets high marks, as everything has a molded spot so components store nicely.
If you are a fan of word games, there’s no reason not to like this one. It has a different enough approach to searching out words to be fresh, yet is simple enough to learn quickly.
That said, if exploring your vocabulary isn’t your cup of tea in terms of board games, then this is one to pass on.

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Oct. 28 2009 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

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