The eight stages of Kerflipping:
1) The Unboxing
You open the box. You take out the various and many intriguing components: the bag of 90 letter tiles (two-sided, ivory and yellow, some of which having little numbers on them), the lovely cloth drawstring tile bag, the four (yes, four) sand timers, the cute little deck of 22 bonus cards, the sturdy, yet empty, inner box for, what, holding the letter tiles? even though you already have a lovely cloth drawstring tile bag; the game board with the tuck-in-able flap; and the large, well-illustrated, cardstock rule thingy.
2) The Re-box
You read enough of the rules to realize that you should put the tiles in the tile bag (logically enough); and that strange, sturdy, yet empty inner box should have actually stayed in its special compartment; and that board with the tuck-in-able flap should go back on the box, on top of the strange, sturdy, yet empty inner box, with it’s flap, tucked in.
3) The wonder
You read a little further and find yourself pouring the letter tiles out of their lovely letter-tile bag, onto the flap-tucked game board, and then sweeping the tiles into the two compartments that yawn enticingly in their left and right compartments in front of the flap-tucked game board. And then you lift the box, and shake it so that the tiles slide rearwardly. And then you remove the gameboard only to discover that yes, as advertised, almost all of the tiles (you needed one more slight shake) have made their way to that inner box, which is now, at last, filled. And you remove that inner box and dump the tiles with consummate ease into the lovely letter-tile bag. And you are awash in wonder at the sheer cleverness of it all. And you do the whole thing again so that you can be similarly wonder-washed.
4) The play
And now, at last, box reassembled, tiles in their lovely drawstring bag, cute little bonus cards tucked snugly into their compartment, front and center; you find yourself stepping beyond the playing-with-the-game stage, ready, finally, to play the game itself actually. You and three of your anagram-loving, party-going friends each take three tiles from the tile bag, simultaneously place your tiles on top of the board in a random, ivory-face-up fashion, and then: let the game begin. As soon as you find it, call a word that can be spelled from some of the letters on the gameboard and start your timer. Now the remaining three get a bit more frantic, because they must find yet another word, hopefully a word that doesn’t use any of the letters that were in the first player’s word. (Well, you can use them if you need to, but they’re worth only half of the value of an unused letter.) And then the second player calls her word out, and starts her timer. If it happens that somehow in all this focused fury that the second player’s timer runs out before a third player has called out a word, the round, of course, reaches its untimely conclusion. And on and on, until everyone has found a word, or run out of time.
5) The score
The first player spells out his word, turning each tile in the word over as he announces each letter, and scoring 10 points for each. Should any of the tiles used in creating the word happen to also bear a number in their lower corner, the player also takes that many bonus cards, and keeps them, face-down, until stage 7: the summing. The next player then spells out her word, scoring ten points for each ivory-side-up tile, but only 5 points for each of the tiles that are yellow-side up (having been turned thuswards by the first player). And again, should a numbered letter tile be involved, collecting bonus cards accordingly. And so on, until the last player’s score has been recorded. And the on to stage 6.
6) The Replenishment
And so it goes, round after round, until there are not enough tiles left for the replenishment.
7) The Summing
The inevitable end of the game evits itself. Players add their totals from each round, arriving at a grander total. And then, for the moment of grace, look upon their bonus cards, adding their cumulative bonus to their cumulative scores and chortling variously. And, semi-finally, a discussion of strategies and feats of astounding cleverness and the fickleness of fate, and marveling again, perhaps, at the genius of it all: the box, the game, each other. Perhaps even noting how, in deed, given the tile-flip factor, a child as young as shall we say eight years could join the game, at somewhat of an equal advantage, should she be quick enough to shout out a word of as few as shall we say four as yet unused letters, and should we be inclined to invite her to join us some other time perhaps tomorrow.
8) The Replay
And so, without further ado, the game begins again, unless someone new wants to join, which will result in yet further ado.
Kerflip. Designed by Damon Tabb, available from Creative Foundry Gameworks, for 2-4 players, 8 and older.