Letter Roll® – a word game for just about everybody

It’s a word game. It’s a party game. It’s a family game. It’s even a kid’s game. It’s Letter Roll® – easy to learn, short, intense rounds (lasting one or two minutes each); easily adapted to different skill levels and play preferences, taking some of the best elements from some of the best word games (a little bit of Boggle, a little bit of Major FUN Keeper-award-winning PDQ).

Your Letter Roll® box contains seven, hefty, 20-sided (go ahead, count them) dice in three different colors. Two sand-timers (your orange one-minute and your blue two-minute timer), four commodious worksheet pads and four full-sized, sharpened pencils. The different colors of the dice identify the level of difficulty (letter frequency) each die introduces. The two white dice display frequently-used letters, the three blue dice less frequently-used letters, and the two orange dice the infrequently-used, and hence, the most challenging.

When it’s your turn to roll, you select any four of the dice. This gives you some control over the level of challenge. Choose only blue and orange dice, and you have an extremely challenging round. Choose only white and blue dice for a refreshingly less challenging round. Just to keep power where it most comfortably belongs, an other player gets to eliminate one of your chosen dice, so that ultimately it’s not totally your fault if the round turns out to be too easy or too challenging.

Once the final selection is revealed, the roller announces the letters rolled, and players race to write down as many unique words as they can think of that use all three letters. As long as each word uses all the letters, it doesn’t matter what order the letters are in. (Having the roller announce the letters, by the way, is another welcome, controversy-avoiding touch – as determining which face of the 20-sided dice are actually showing can prove somewhat of a challenge.) Players race to write as many words as they can think of, knowing that at the end of the round they will only score for words that no other player has chosen. When the time is mercifully up, players take turns reading their lists while the rest of the players draw lines through any of the words on their list that get called out. This results in much, somewhat good-natured, but clearly mournful moaning as scoring potential gets graphically reduced. When all lists have been read, players announce and record their scores, getting one point for each unique word remaining on their lists. This encourages originality, cleverness and obscurity, all comfortably confused by a strong element of pure chance.

To further refine the intensity of the game, players can select either timer, the one- or two-minute sand timer, to be used during the duration of the game. The one-minute timer not only shortens the playing time, it also makes the search somewhat less excruciating. The less time you have to think, the easier it is for you to forgive your lexicographic lapses.

Designed by Tushar Gheewala, the challenge presented by Letter Roll is so wonderfully flexible that it can be played by kids as young as 7 or 8 (just reduce the number of dice) or by adults in the prime of their linguistic abilities (increase the number of dice, increase the number of letters required for each word). By allowing each player to determine which dice to be used, players can further refine the challenge as each round of the game is played. It’s a great 2-player game, and, with only slight modification of the rules, you can have as many as 20 players happily engaged (team play takes the game to an hilarity-inducing level of collaboration and chaos). As with just about every game published by Out of the Box, the components are designed for years of play, the box for easy storage, the rules for clarity and durability.

Let those good times roll again. Letter Roll® is Major FUN.

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