Wordsy   Official Site  |  BGG  

Designer: Gil Hova
Publisher: Formal Ferret Games
1-6 players  20 min. ages 10+  MSRP $25

text-the concept

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.

text-the components

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.

text-the mechanics

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.


Sock Puppet Charades is a KEEPER

After much enthusiastic deliberation, and deep delving by the chosen few, it became clear that Major Fun Award-winning Sock Puppet Charades was just too much fun for its award.

It’s the kind of game that you want to have around whenever you find yourself in a room full of playful people. It’s so easily adaptable to almost any setting with almost any mix of playful players. You can play in teams. You can play without teams. You can make up your own charades cards. You can write your own charades cards.

Here’s a little video, in case you need reminding:


And here, yes, is the Sock Puppet Charades Major Fun Keeper Award.

Major Fun Keeper Award

Richly deserved, you cute little charading sock puppets. And you, too, brilliant designer Jack Degnan, and astute game company Marbles the Brain Store.

Rory’s Story Cubes – Mix and Max

story cubes enchanted

As you no doubt know, Rory’s Story Cubes® has achieved that most coveted of all Major Fun awards, the Major Fun Keeper! In their ceaseless attempts to make a good thing better, Gamewright has recently introduced what they are calling the Story Cubes Mix: small sets of three cubes each, each with their own theme. Currently, there are: Clues (mystery detective images), Prehistoria (dinosaurs and their ilk), and Enchanted (fairy tale). Each box and set of cubes is a different color – making it easier to sort one set out from the other, when so moved. Though, in truth, mixing them together stimulates even more creativity. It is my great pleasure to inform you that each of these has received a Major Fun award.

They are each very affordable, each wealthy enough with iconic imagery to engage the story-telling heart and direct it towards a different world. And, when used to supplement any of the existing Story Cube sets, each takes the story a different way, each serving to add yet more to the mix of inspiration for aspiring story-makers.

And for those who have not yet purchased the basic Story Cube set, try using a Mix to supplement your next story-reading. Take any book that you and your kids like to read together, and, at mutually agreed upon moments, roll a cube or two or three, interpret the symbols, and add them to the story. It’s a whole new way to read together.

story cubes maxAnd then there’s Rory’s Story Cubes® Max, the original Story Cubes made larger. Mixing a Mix with the Max (excuse me, I couldn’t help myself) makes a mix even that much easier to unmix – should the need arise.

Major Fun Keeper AwardEach of the various instantiations of Rory’s Story Cubes complement and extend the value of the others. The Max set invites those of us who don’t see as clearly as we think. It’s size and heft is even more inviting – especially for adult and group play.

The invitation to creative, story-telling fun just keeps getting majorer and majorer.


As fellow (Major) Funseekers, you’re no doubt familiar with Qwirkle. One of the first “Keepers”, if memory serves.

Well, after we’d played it  most Tuesday nights for a year or two, my friend “Two Hour Bob” and I (2-H-B couldn’t sit still for much more than that) started messing with the rules……as gamers do.

First, to avoid the end game getting bogged down by trying to figure out what our opponent had left in his hand, we’d take four random tiles out of each game before we started without looking at them. Success!!

Lots of friends have picked up on this and. maybe, someday, it will be an official rule.

But then, one very silly night, I asked 2-H-B,   ” Why not  try ‘ANTI-Qwirkle’?”.

“Auntie Whom??”

(A reminder for those of you who need it on the basic rules.):

There are tiles of six colors and six shapes.

Three of each of each. (I love saying that!)

A turn consists of  playing one or more of the six tiles from your hand in a straight line, intersecting with at least one tile already on the board. Sorta like that word game.

The rules allow you to play either Same Shape/Different Color or Same Color/Different Shape.

No exceptions.

EXCEPT… this one Tuesday night, we were feeling…exceptional.

And we changed the rules (Sorry, Susan!)

anti-qwirkleInstead of having one and only one thing in common with the other tiles played that turn, each one could have no shared attribute. No same color, no same shape as any of the others in its row or column.

So you could play a red square, a blue diamond, and a yellow star in the same row or column, etc, but none of their properties could match.

This was fun.


And scoring? Man, did we score!

Because of the nature of the new set of rules, ‘only’ getting a Qwirkle was a  disappointing turn. Many turns ended up falling in the 15-20 point range. Or more.

So, even though you’d never ‘UNkeep’ a Keeper, there’s something fun to try with your copy of Qwirkle next time it hits the table.

Let us know how it went.

SmartMax – the Barrel

smartmax barrelWe’ve written about SmartMax before. And we enthused mightily. It’s a brilliantly designed toy, brilliantly executed. Big pieces, perfect for small hands. Pieces that click together with the aid of magnets just powerful enough to keep them together, just strong enough to be easily pulled apart. And the subtle interplay of pieces that either repel or attract each other adding just the right sense of mystery, the right element of wonder, the right invitation to experiment.

The SmartMax Barrel contains 42 pieces. Which is a significant quantity of pieces, in deed. Though you might as well accept the inevitable truth – there are never enough pieces. Even for one child. But there’s a goodly amount, and what’s more important, there’s just enough variety of pieces to engage the child through a significant range of play moods and modes: investigative, creative, constructive (and, of course, destructive) and dramatic.

The key components of this, and all SmartMax sets. is the collection of rods and balls. The SmartMax Barrel contains two different lengths of rods, each in six different colors. The colors are key to which rods will attract and which repel each other. Something to be learned, investigated, explored. There are eight large plastic-covered metallic balls which can connect any rod to any other. And can even serve as hubs for a multiple collection of rods.

Then there are eight pairs of wheels that snap on to the rods. The wheels are also very well made and roll easily and for a surprisingly long time. Snap two sets of wheels onto any rod, and you have a vehicle. In addition to the wheels there are four semi-transparent cockpits and four containers which further define the nature and function of the vehicles.

Major Fun Keeper AwardThe Barrel is very sturdy, and capacious enough to accommodate at least five more SmartMax sets or other small toys: dolls, pieces of metal, toy cars – whatever the child deems worthy of including in her SmartMax set. There are lids on both sides of the barrel that twist on and off, and the barrel itself is sturdy enough to roll on or over. Small hands may find turning the lids open a bit more challenging than desired, but parents of small-handed ones might find that useful in limiting access when access needs to be limited. As with all good toys, it’s better to put them away, out of sight from time to time – for a day or several – just long enough for the child to almost forget such a toy exists. And then, next time boredom surfaces, you can just, shall we say, roll out the barrel.

All in all, the SmartMax Barrel provides the child with what could easily become an heirloom toy. The variety of the pieces, the many ways with which they can be played, the durability of the set and the container all assure that this is a toy that can be safely and lovingly passed down through the generations.

Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty is a Keeper

Production guys with Crazy Aaron

I’ve been playing with, exploring, thinking about, o, all right, playing with Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty since I realized that it was, in deed, a toy worthy of Major Fun recognition. Today, I encountered an inescapable conclusion: this stuff is a Keeper. I mean, I can barely keep my hands off of it.

Go to Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty site. Look around. Look at all the different kinds, the properties (glow in the dark, light sensitive, heat sensitive, magnetic), the colors (Electric, Metallic, Primary) – there’s even a colorless called Liquid Glass (which is so surprisingly, uh, surprisning that you have to see it in action to appreciate it’s crystalline wonders)


And it’s therapeutic, too. Not just emotionally, but physically


Now take a look at Crazy Aaron (in the middle of the photo at the beginning of this post) with some of the more than 500 people in his staff. Not only is he constantly experimenting, continuously providing us with new putty marvels to soothe our senses and tease our intellect, but he is employing people, many of whom, because of one label or another, wouldn’t have a way to make anything close to a living.

So this Keeper award is in recognition of his deeply playworthy accomplishments, but also of Aaron himself, and his genuine devotion to making the world a little more fun for all playkind.

Major Fun Keeper Award


WeyKick is a Keeper

wooden tabletop soccer

You, of course, remember WeyKick, the tabletop soccer game of undeniably major fun.

It is with significantly consensual joy that we, after hour-upon-hour of committed exploration, present the coveted Keeper award to the WeyKick Tabletop Magnetic Soccer Game. O yes.

It’s fun. It stays fun. It’s fun for kids. It’s fun for adults. It’s fun for two people, or three or four. You can take it easy. You can take it to heart. It makes people laugh.

It comes slightly disassembled, and, if you’re not patient enough, so might you. Everything you need is there. The playing surface is already made, and very well-made it is. The wood is of satisfyingly high quality. All you have to add to it are the little scoring thingies, the goal trays, and the supports. The goal trays are attached by screws of significant length. You may want to drill the holes a tad deeper, depending on how much energy you want to spend screwing. The supports and cross piece need to be attached. If you don’t pay close attentions to the somewhat scant instructions, you will find the installation more daunting than necessary. But what a game! What major fun! A Keeper? For generations!

Major Fun Keeper Award

Dotzee is a Keeper!


The Major Fun award-winning Dotzee has stood the test of time and the playing many, many games, in many, many versions, with many, many people. It provides just the right amount of chance, offers just the right amount of strategic thinking, and is just attractive and sturdy enough to be the kind of game you want to keep for just about ever.

Ah, the heft and roll of the large, colorful dice. Ah again, the pondering and the sliding around. And most significantly ah, the major fun of it all.

Major Fun Keeper Award



Tiny Games

I have become a huge fan of tininess. From the very first time I read about Tiny Games and watched this video


my fun-loving heart was all aflutter with fluttery things. It tickles, this Tiny Games idea. Little invitations to a few moments of semi-idle fun, like the first game in the video – a people-watching game where the people watchers try to guess which people are being watched. One watcher sounds out the footsteps of the person he’s watching. The others compete (or work together) to figure out which person it is. So simple. So slight. And yet, for the moment, so thoroughly fun.

Games, especially commercially produced games, have become huge, complex things that take months, even years to produce, and, in some cases, even more years to master. Like chess, only with hi-res, 3-D, surround sound, eye-tracking, multi-platform, multi-player capabilities.

Many of my favorite games, in fact most of the games you’ll find on the homepage of Deep Fun are like that, only not quite as tiny. So they take a little more commitment, a little more planning. Tiny games are really casual games. Casual games in pajamas, so to speak. Which makes them that much more accessible, that much more of an invitation to play.

tiny games app

And now, there’s an app called Tiny Games with hundreds, that’s right, hundreds of tiny games to play at home or on a walk or on the road or at a bar or when waiting in line or at work, with tiny games you can play by yourself or with another or with two or three or for or five or more others, and another tiny games app for people with tinier folk called Sesame Street Family Games.

And these apps are a whole new way to use your smartthing – as a tool for a bit of semi-spontaneous, patently casual playing in the real world in real time with real people – really. And they’re fun. Easy, simple, clever invitations to hundreds of not-so tiny moments of shared fun.

We don’t really have an award category for these games. They’re not virtual games, though they come to us via a virtual platform. They’re not packaged games – they don’t come in a box or even a blister pack. They offer all kinds of opportunities to play, so we can’t classify them as word games or puzzles or dexterity or thinking games or kids games or family games or party games. The only category that we have left that is strong enough to express our appreciation for these games is Keeper. Which, we strongly believe, they will most definitely prove to be – for you, your friends, your family.

Major Fun KEEPER

Cirplexed – a Keeper!

You know, of course, that Cirplexed is a Major Fun award-winning game.

Yes, Cirplexed. This lovely, colorful, 2-6  or even single player tile game, as described below:


Cirplexed, all 90 wooden tiles and cloth bag of it, designed, of course, by the very same designer what designed the Keeper award-winning Qwirkle.

Well, it gives us even greater pleasure to inform you that Cirplexed is now also a Keeper-award winning game. Why? Because it’s just that kind of game. The kind you want to play over and over and over. The kind you really get angry at yourself for giving away.

O, the well-deserved joy!

Major Fun Keeper Award

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