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This is an attempt to list the letter-by-letter word games that have been published -- called "letter-by-letter games", or "word-building games", to distinguish them from word games which use whole words, phrases, sentences, etc. Examples of the latter include Taboo, Guestures, Trivial Pursuit, and Charades; all of which can be considered "word games", but are outside the scope of this list. Instead, this list focuses on games in which the basic element is a letter, and words are built up from there. We will also not be listing traditional word games which can be played without special equipment, although many of the games here could also be played without the paraphenalia listed here (typified by Jotto, for example); To include pencil and paper word games would turn this project from a web page into a book! Similarly we will also be avoiding purely electronic word games (such as Jumble) unless they also have a board, card or tile component.
ScrabbleTM is probably the best-known letter-by-letter word game today. Many of the games below were invented to cash in on the popularity of Scrabble; but many of them pre-date it, especially the games using lettered cards and letter-dice, and one game in particular - Pressman's Wordy (copyright 1938) - may well turn out after a little detective work to be the original inspiration for Scrabble (copyright 1948).
The games currently listed are mostly from the USA with some from other English-speaking lands such as Britain and Australia, but submissions of games from other countries and for play in other languages will be most welcome. (Here's a good list from France that I haven't yet had time to go over individually) We hope to eventually document all aspects of a game, so that if you are going to buy one (on eBay, for example) you'll be able to check here and see just how many tiles or cards there should be before you buy a set with some missing items. We'll also be documenting the rules, when possible, so you can play on an old game whose original rules are lost. (Meanwhile, the Games Cabinet, About.com, D'Antiques, and the AGPC (not online - photocopies by mail only) have a fine selection of rules, and John McLeod has a huge database of rules for card games. The about.com site also has some advice for buyers. As, occassionally, do we.)
This list is not done yet - there have been an astonishing number of such games published. We'll continue to add any new submissions and corrections that are mailed to Steffan O'Sullivan <email@example.com>.
My thanks to the contributors (listed below), and to anyone else who responds to my plea to fill in either more game titles, comments, or both. Also thanks to external sites we've linked to, which may have a review or an image of a game. To keep the loading time of this page reasonable, I'm not placing any images inline within this page.
The games are in alphabetical order, and are numbered merely so I can easily see how many we've been able to list. If we give a date, it's the oldest date we're aware of; if we give a tile count, it's the highest tile count we're aware of - but beware, games may be older than we know or we may have info from boxes with tiles missing!
I've recently started adding some price guide information, basically just summarizing the prices fetched on eBay for the permanent record, before eBay forgets old sales. These are not to be taken with any authority. Anything you sell is worth what you can get for it. I've seen the very same game sell at times for $10 and other times for $50.
The latest major change to this page is to add some images of the games. A few words of explanation are needed here. The principle source of research for finding uncatalogued games is the online auction site, eBay. When I find a new game, I generally mail the person selling it and ask if I can use the image from their page. Usually they say yes with no strings attached. Occassionally they ask that I link to their auctions, which I'm happy to do in exchange. However most times I don't get an answer at all, which is a little depressing, though certainly understandable because many auction sellers aren't interested in what they sell - they get job lots from a house clearing when someone dies and sell everything off as fast as possible. It's a business. And I wouldn't want to put someone out who was trying to get some work done. So... although in life I'm generally very strict about copyrights and things of that nature, I have in these pages included some graphics from people from whom I have not had explicit permission. In those cases, I generally check their 'other sales' pages first, and if they are a specialist in word games, I'll include a link to it because no matter when you access it you'll probably find a word game. People who have only ever sold one word game however I don't generally link to as the word game will be long gone from the memory of eBay by the time you click on their link. In those cases I may out of politeness include a generic link to eBay, or have no attribution at all. If any ebay advertiser spots one of their scans here and is offended by this appropriation of their images, I will remove it immediately. My common sense feeling is that no-one is likely to object. I know I certainly wouldn't. Now that the page below is starting to get a pretty good coverage of what's available, new games are arriving more slowly than before and I have more time to pursue requests to include images. When I first started this page, I was adding 10 or 20 a day, and it just wasn't possible to track everyone down to ask their permission. On the plus side, we do have quite a lot of good pictures here :-)
So, without further ado, the games:
Quick index: [A] [B] [C] [D] [E] [F] [G] [H] [I] [J] [K] [L] [M] [N] [O] [P] [Q] [R] [S] [T] [U] [V] [W] [X] [Y] [Z]
> From: firstname.lastname@example.org > > We were given a wedding present of the Finnish 'version' of Scrabble > called Alfabet which is played on a 17 x 17 board with x4 Word squares > and 8 letters on racks - maybe that's where your information came from? - > I believe it is a popular game in Scandinavian countries. The tile > distribution is fun when applied to English!! > > Mike O'RourkeI believe this page contains an image of the Alfapet rack.
Splotch 8 A 16 N 14 B 4 O 16 C 6 P 4 D 8 Q 2 E 24 R 12 F 4 S 14 G 4 T 20 H 10 U 6 I 14 V 2 J 2 W 4 K 2 X 2 L 8 Y 4 M 4 Z 2[SA2]
B D A U T CAB PASS T ATOM CORE KEEN [Not too shabby for 1932!]"Proper names, abbreviations and foreign words are not allowed. Players may use the dictionary as a means of settling disputes. If a word is querstioned and is not found in the dictionary, the player must take back the word and lose his next turn. If the questioned word is in the dictionary, the one who disputed it must lose his next turn."
I believe the following is the point scale:
8 points for a "one-on-one" (one-word clue, correct answer).
4 points for getting it on the first turn (with more than one word as a = clue)
3 points on the second turn
2 points on the third
2 bonus points if it was the asterisk word
I'm not sure how many spaces are on the board, but it's a very simple layout. The first one around wins. There are also squares where both (or all) teams get to guess at the clue-giver's clues, but we have never played with them, so I'm not really sure how they work. Anyway, it's a great game, and VERY addictive. It just so happens that, as far as I'm concerned, my brother owns the only copy known to man. I NEED a copy of the game. [JT] (I'll pass any offers on to Jim who contributed this review! - GT. By the way this doesn't strictly match our criteria for inclusion, but then there are a few others such as "Chain Letters" that are borderline as well. It was such a good review I thought I'd include it anyway)
(Armand Jammot is the originator of "Countdown")
in this French game you uncover your opponents letters by a complex process of triangulation (on a hex grid). See also the French game Bataille de Mots Croises and the English game Decypher.
"The word game where your logic and deduction lead to your opponent's destruction! For word game lovers and strategists alike! Combine the skills of deduction and logic to outwit your opponent and win!" Two players, ages 8+. Two sets of letter tiles and a board that consists of four 5x5 grids separated by a screen (two grids per player). You apparently fill your grid (like a crossword?) and try to deduce the contents of your opponent's grid. Sounds like a cross between Scrabble and Battleship. [DUT]
See the French games Bataille de Mots Croises and Decrypto.
See Funagain Games
May be more of a children's education toy than a game.
This is a box of 63 small wood tiles that have the letters of the alphabet on them and a small number up in the corner. I have no idea how this is played, but looks like some sort of scrabble or word game/domino mix. Box says Diamino, Marque & Modele Deposes-Brevete. SGDG France & Etranger. Made in France. Box is 7" long, 3 1/4" wide and about 1" tall.
[From an ebay advertisement]
"Chinese Diamino". An attempt to make a crossword game on a hex grid. Has 12 wild-cards to make it easier. Read about it at web.avo.fr.
As the editor of this review says, "What a lack of imagination!". Has a few small rules that make it different enough from Scrabble to avoid a lawsuit, but why bother?
Made in Portland, Oregon. 180 letters, bag, dictionary. 4 tile racks, score pads, note pads, rules. Find highest scoring word from a draw of 10 letters.
Players use wands with a gummy end to dig out words from a pile of letters. Money and cards feature the Monopoly Man. Gummy wands liable to dry up with age. [AS] [GT]
378 letter tiles, many cards with a subject printed on each. Deal out subject cards, players simply dig into the common pile of letter tiles, spelling words relating to their subject. [SOS]
Variation on Scrabble Word Cubes. 23 word cube dice, timer and instructions.
No information at present.
The board is 5x5 with holes which are initially covered with reversible O/X pieces, all on the O side. Then a card with letters which align with the holes is inserted in the base. The first player uncovers two letters, making sure his opponent sees them too, then replaces the plugs, X side up. Play continues with the players alternating. After the third pair of letters has been revealed, each player may guess a word every turn. To do so, announce the word, then expose the letters (from the Xs) in the correct order. If correct, the player keeps the pieces removed and those letters can no longer be used. If incorrect, remove 2 points from the guesser's score. Once all letters are X side up, continue the process but flip the pieces back to the O side. Play continues until all the pieces are back to the O side or both players decide to give up. Score 1 point per piece. Reviewed in Games Magazine in the Jul/Aug 1980 issue. [DUT]
"Game of Words and Sentences". 295 (?) letter squares (brown backs), instructions for 4 games. [image]
326 (?) letter squares. Rules for 10 games. There is a similar set called the "Golden Eagle" edition, with fewer letters.
Race to form two four-letter words. Reviewed by Games Magazine in Feb 1985. [JB]
See Funagain Games. Also available from etoys.
Duoword is a progressive new word game, produced in Australia, that combines attacking strategies with creative word building skill. With 14 letters to play 2 words each turn, the word potential is enormous! Score by counting the number of letters in the words played and apply the bonuses/penalties that are covered. Extra Word Bonuses entitle the Player to refill to 14 letters and play an Extra Word during that turn. It is not uncommon for Players to use 14 letters or more during a turn. Making words has never been easier. Educational entertainment for the whole family. Played on a unique circular board with 112 MAGNETIC letters, suitable for 1-4 Players aged 10-100+
DUOWORD(R) is also a fascinating solo puzzle. A quality Australian product.
Web site http://www.ozemail.com.au/~duoword [RF] (You can tell this blurb was written by the author, right?)
Two Decks Per Package. The game consists of four sets of consonants (21 cards per set) and five sets of vowels (5 per set). Two to four players for one deck. For more players add another deck. For ages 5 and older. This will describe only one game that can be played: Separate the vowels from the consonants. Shuffle vowels. Deal each player 5 vowels. Place surplus vowels on table face down. Shuffle all consonants. Now deal each player 7 to 12 consonants. Place surplus consonants on table, face down. There is no need to hide cards from other players. Try to spell a word from your set of cards. Only one play for each turn. Player can draw a card from top of deck by placing a card under the deck (one exchange per play). Keep consonants and vowels in separate stacks. A player gets one point for each letter in a word. A player gets a point for each letter added to a previously spelled word. Game is over when only one player has cards but has no play. Player with most points wins the game. Example: JOY = 3 points; JOYFUL = three additional points. Crosley Products, Hampton, Florida.
This is a board game in which the players are insane asylum inmates, trying to escape. (You each believe you are Napoleon and the asylum is Elba, where Napoleon was exiled in 1814.) In order to escape, you need to collect cards with letters on them and spell various words - you can also use them to spell weapons during the game to help you fight. [SOS]
Designed by Haim Shafir, 2-6 players aged 10+, pub April '97. A word is hidden in the mechanism, players roll dice to enable them to open flaps, revealing letters. When they guess the word they score the values of the closed flaps. [PE]
Cross between Probe and Battleship, came with pads of game sheets. Reviewed in Games Magazine, July 1983 [JB]
Game #234. This is designed like a pinball machine, you pull back a flipper and it rolls balls into letter slots. The back opens for cardboard letters.