Word games are often time consuming affairs—the kind of game where you either find an almost maniacal fascination with anagrams or where you must carry on an extended conversation with your fellow competitors as each player grinds through endless permutations of letters and point combinations. Don’t get me wrong. I love thoughtful word games but there are times when I want a full game to be over in the time it takes to finish one round of Scrabble.
Games like Boggle, Bananagrams, and Word on the Street are good examples of fast paced word games.
To this category of word game I wish to introduce the Major Fun Award winning game of Kerflip!
In many ways, Kerflip! is like a puckish and caffeinated child of Scrabble and Boggle. Players draw letter tiles from a bag and then simultaneously drop them on the game board. The players then look for words created by the letters. When you call out a word you can’t change your mind so you have to make sure it’s a good one. But you also have to be fast. The first players to call out words have a distinct advantage when it comes to scoring. If someone is taking too long, the game comes with a 15 second timer which may be deployed to speed things along.
It’s like a cattle prod in the shape of an hour-glass.
There are many quirky elements to scoring but a large part of it boils down to the tiles. The letter tiles are double-sided: one side is whit and the other side is orange. After players drop their tiles onto the game board they must flip any orange tiles to the white side. Once all players have called out their words, scoring starts with the fastest player. That speller scores 10 points per white tile and flips any tiles from his or her word to the orange side. The next player scores 5 points per orange tile and 10 per any white tile, flipping the white to orange as they are used.
This mechanic rewards speed AND word length. It also is a great way to apply pressure to the combatants. For the most part the players race each other. The timer is only needed for that last poor sucker who thinks he can calmly sift through all the letters for that killer word (er… he or she… it’s not like it ever happened to me…)
Orange tiles are removed from the game and any unused white tiles are returned to the bag. The game is over when the bag does not contain enough tiles for each player to draw.
Like I mentioned before there are other scoring rules that I won’t go into here. They are designed to keep the game fast paced and the score always in doubt because some points are kept concealed until the end of the game.
The game is beautifully designed, and the box is a lesson in game utility. The game board fits inside the box to easily contain the tiles. Clean-up is especially ingenious. Used orange tiles are pushed into two openings in the box. At the end of the game, you simply tilt the box up and the tiles slide into a waiting cup so you can simply pour them back into the bag.
It’s fast. It’s addictive. It’s elegant.
It’s Major Fun.
2-4 players. Ages 8+
Kerflip! was designed by Damon Tabb and is © 2012 by Creative Foundry Games. Provided by the good people at Game Salute.