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Two new challenges for word-game fans!
Score points by unscrambling letters on the table to make words. Each turn you change one letter to either help you or thwart your opponent.
Think fast! The fun starts when everyone turns over a letter. Make a word first and you score a point for sure. If you hold out, you might score big points. But don't wait too long... someone might make a word longer than yours and you won't score any points!
First I should point out that I hate word games. I can't spell worth beans (oops, is that word copyrighted by Uwe Rosenberg?) and this is a disadvantage in just about every word game I can think of. With that said, I love this game. The best of the Wizards of the Coast's new line of family non-collectible card games. It has different rules for 2 players and 3+ players but the mechanics are basically the same. You have 6 or more letter cards on the table and you try to make the longest word possible from these cards, using each as many times as you want. It is a 'take your time and think it over' type game with 2 players and because of this I prefer this to the to the 3-4 player game. I find that with 2 players both players try to find the best words for each other. Thank goodness my girlfriend can spell. The 3 or 4 player game is totally different with a lot of suspense and strategy as you try to make the longest word from the cards available but not necessarily before anyone else. You score less for being first but any subsequent words must be longer. Very highly recommended.
Alphablitz is a great word game with a twist. The twist - unlike most word games, you can use any letter as many times as you like, something that Boggle or Scrabble players may require some getting used to. Also, once a word has been used, it, or any variation on it, is not allowed to be used again.
Like in most word games, in the multiplayer version it involves looking at a set of letters, in this case two letters placed face up in front of each player. Players make words by calling them out loud. The first player to say a word gets one point, the second two points, etc. and each word must be longer than the last. If you can manage to say a very long word first you would get one point, and reduce the chances of your opponents getting any this round. The last person to say a word in each round gets a bonus point. At the end of each round players choose one card from their hand of three to modify the letters on the table, so the game is constantly changing. You have to be able to think fast to do well in multiplayer Alphablitz, meaning that many people who like other word games just won't like this game because of the fast pace. In addition to letter cards, there are Blitz cards which kill a pile. The game ends when both of a player's piles are blitzed.
The two-player version (which the rules suggest could also be tried for multiple players, although I haven't yet tried it), is much slower and strategically oriented. There are six letters on the table and play is turn based. The goal is to make the longest word possible. You earn a point for making a word, and bonus points if your word is longer than the number of letters available. Either before or after making a word you must play one letter from your hand. This is a strategic point in the game - your play could increase the length of your word, make it impossible for your opponent to make a word without first playing a letter, etc. As in the multi-player game, Blitz cards kill a pile, so the number of letters you have to work with gets smaller and the challenge of making a legal word (which must be at least 4 letters) gets greater. The game ends when there are only two piles that are not Blitzed.
I like fast-paced, non-turn-based games ([page scan/se=0513/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]Brawl, anyone?) so I'm naturally biased towards this one. I really like the fact that it combines both an excellent multiplayer and an excellent two-player game in one, giving you maximum value for your dollar.
Why not five stars then? As I said in the review, the fast paced nature of one of the variations means that many players just will not enjoy this game. Also, vocabulary differences among players can quickly segregate the group into those looking for a quick four letter word to get any points, and those coming up with 'propinquity' immediately after the cards are turned (true story!). But I think it is well worth the inexpensive cost!
Last year's Best New Word Game deserves another mention in a category in which fresh ideas are all too rare. The deck of letters and Blitz cards offers two splendid games.
Alpha, for two players, features six cards dealt to the table and three to each player You make a word using any of the letters on the table as often as required. Follow this by covering any exposed letters with a new one from hand, or eliminating a letter with a Blitz card. The end comes, often with unseemly haste, when all but two piles have been Blitzed.
Blitz is for three to six players. Each gets two facedown cards and a hand of three. Facedown letters are revealed simultaneously. You earn a point if you are first to form a word with them, plus a bonus if you exceed the number of active piles. Satisfied? Well, the second player gets two points plus bonus! You can only call out one word in a round, which must be longer than the last. Too much haste might give an opponent an opportunity to excel. On the other hand, too much dallying may leave you searching for a really, really long word.