Designer: Gil Hova
Publisher: Formal Ferret Games
1-6 players 20 min. ages 10+ MSRP $25
In Wordsy, players use a grid of letter cards to form a word each round. Some letters are worth more, others less. If you’re quick, you could score a nice bonus but only if your word scores more than the others. At the end of 7 rounds, the player with the most points wins the game.
Wordsy comes with a deck of 76 letter cards. 60 of the letters are common. 16 letters are rare. The rare letters have a golden color and icons showing the bonus points they score.
There are also 4 column cards that will determine the point value for letters during the game (5-4-3-2).
The game also comes with a scorepad, a sandtimer and pencils. There’s also a no-flip card and a card used in solo play.
Each round, a grid of 8 letter cards will be dealt to the table. The letters will be separated into four columns and a point card will be assigned to each column. The leftmost column is worth five points, the next 4 points, 3 points, and 2 points.
There can never be more than two of the same letter in the grid and there can never be more than 2 rare letters in the grid. When everyone is ready, the round begins and the goal is to form a word using the letters in the grid.
If the two letters in the 5 point column are T and L, then you’ll have a lot of incentive to use those letters. If your word has a T and an L you’ll get 5 points for each.
If the 3 point column has a B and and H, you’ll get 3 points for a B in your word. Since H is considered a rare letter you get a bonus point, the H is worth 4. So if my word was THIMBLE I’d score 17 points.
You can use the letters in any order and the word you make can be any length (the longer, the better). No peeking at other people’s words!
Each player will have a sheet from the score pad and will write down a single word for the round.
The first person to finish will put the other players on the clock by flipping the 30 second sandtimer. You must have a word written on your sheet by the time the sand runs out.
When the round ends, each player will read their word aloud and announce his or her score. If you were the fastest player to find a word AND your word scored more points than most or all others (depending on the number of players) you get a bonus. If you were not the fastest but your word scored more points, you get a bonus. These bonuses increase in later rounds.
Between rounds, the mix of letters in the grid shifts. The four cards in the lower point columns (3 and 2) are discarded and the cards columns 4 and 5 slide down. Four new cards are then added to the grid in the high point columns.
It’s lather, rinse and repeat for six more rounds.
The fastest player from the prior round takes the no-flip card, meaning he or she cannot flip the timer in the next round. This means someone different is guaranteed to be the fastest player each round.
At the end of the game you get rid of the two lowest scoring words and add your points, including any bonuses. Highest point total wins the game.
To this point, Wordsy follows some pretty standard conventions we have come to know and love when playing word games.
It has some Boggle in its DNA. There’s a random grouping of letters each round BUT….
Instead of a grid of letter dice we have a grid of letter cards AND all the letters in Wordsy are not created equal. Some letters are clearly more important than others based on their position in the grid. This makes you look at the letter grid in a way that’s fresh and different, prioritizing letters in high point columns or rare letters with bonus points.
Wordsy is a Scrabble cousin, too. The goal each turn is to come up with the best scoring word you can given the options available BUT here’s the big one…
You can use any letters you want to make your word, even letters that are not part of the grid!
This changes everything. You can add as many non-scoring letters as you need to get to a word that uses the juicy scoring ones. Unlike Boggle, you can’t complain about a weird gibberish jumble of letter cubes turning up. Unlike Scrabble, you can’t complain that your rack of letter tiles resembles the mating call of some angry monkey because it’s all vowels.
Suddenly the grid of letters on the table is not a limitation; it’s an opportunity. Wordsy challenges you to be creative, the game wants you to play with letters and words to find one that fits well with the scoring rules you are presented with each round.
This means the variety of words found each round will most often be wildly different, since players have so much freedom to find them.
That moment of discovery each round is what makes Wordsy special and different and fun. You arent just rearranging fixed letters like a puzzle to find the best fit. The game asks you to add your own imagination to find the right combination of letters that ARE NOT THERE. You’re more invested in every word you find because you had to add something to find it.
Wordsy is familiar but fresh. It is easy to teach and learn. It encourages creative thinking. And it will not wear out its welcome over time since each new grid of letters provides a new challenge.
This makes Wordsy a modern classic. The fun it offers is evergreen and can grow with players over a lifetime of games. It also makes Wordsy a Keeper, the highest honor any Major Fun game can achieve. If you are a fan of word games, make room on your shelf for Wordsy. I’m confident it will stand the test of time.