Keesdrow

If you like word games, especially those of the word-seek, Boggle-type, you should most seriously and assuredly consider immediately purchasing Pywacket‘s surprisingly well-made, designed, and documented Keesdrow. (Keesdrow, as in word-seek, only spelled sdrawkcab). Surprisingly well.

First, of course, the game. Because even though the quality of the pieces and the cleverness of the design and the thoroughness of the documentation are all exemplary, if the game itself weren’t fun and challenging and unique, the rest wouldn’t matter. The board (made by a random arrangement of 64 tiles, double-sided tiles, each of which has 4 letters on it) presents an array of 16×16 letters.

Not to, shall we say, “boggle” your mind, but, do you recall how many letters there are in the original, Parker Brothers version of Boggle? Did you say 16? And did we say that Keesdrow has 16 times 16 letters? Why, yes, we did. So, one might easily conclude that Keesdrow is Boggle overkill.

Words are created by connecting letters that are horizontally, vertically or diagonally adjacent – as would be familiar to any Boggle player. Each time a letter is used, it is marked with a peg. When a pegged letter is used (a letter is used for the second time) to make a word, that peg is replaced with a different peg of a different color (yellow), and the letter’s score-value is doubled. When that letter is used a third (and last) time, a red peg us used, and the letter’s score is tripled. This makes every letter of increasing strategic value – so the temptation is to build from other people’s words, focusing on one small area of the board. And thus, quite brilliantly, keeping the players from being totally overwhelmed by all the possibilities.

There’s also a unique double letter rule, where you can use the same letter twice in a row or in the word, doubling back, as it were, if you need, and of course adding to your score as you make your green pegs yellow, and your yellow, red. And, to encourage players to widen their use of the board as the game continues, letters marked with a red peg are “dead” and can’t be used again. All of this just about guarantees that you will be taken completely by surprise by each other’s brilliance – all of you looking at the same cluster of letters and suddenly someone finding a word that was everso blatantly there and yet completely invisible to you. Hence, the Majorness of the FUN. Finally, there’s a two-minute timer, just to keep things in perspective.

In the deluxe version, the letter tiles are made of wood. For five dollars less, you can get them made out of plastic. Which maybe less appealing aesthetically-speaking, but perhaps even more durable. Everything else, deluxe or regular version, is the same. A plastic box, divided into three compartments, stocked with three different colored pegs. A folding board that acts as a frame, and a set of carefully illustrated, full-color instructions completes the package. Recommended for 2 to 6 players, 8 to adult. Though if you have more than 4 players, more than childlike patience will be required. It’s also helpful if players are relatively equally skilled, or as much imbued with compassion as with the love of wordly challenge.

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