Scrabble is one of the best known word games. Players must create words on a board in a crossword puzzle using letters they draw from a letter pool. Whereas Scrabble sits at the top of the word game popularity pyramid, there are other excellent word games that deserve a chance to shine.
Not all word games are based on building words from single-letter tiles. The most creative ones have players working together in teams to guess specific words or construct sentences that will elicit fits of laughter. Whichever version ends up on the table, wordsmiths of all kinds will find something to suit their vocabulary tastes.
ten Bananagrams: Scrabble on the go
Bananagrams is fun, sometimes frantic, and still a great exercise in imaginative vocabulary. Similar to Scrabble, this game turns out to be much more spontaneous and portable. Players form words in a connecting grid pattern from their pool of letters, trying to use all the letters they can.
There is also a community letter pool, called a “party” to swap tiles if players get stuck. Words can be edited and moved around the grid pattern to create new words as additional letters are acquired.
9 Tick-Tock Boom: a gamer vocabulary test
Tic-Tac Boom is a fast-paced, frantic word game that forces players to find words on the spot. While a player is holding the bomb, they draw a card with three letters on it. The player must then think of a word that uses all three letters before they can pass the bomb to the next person.
If time runs out before a player can think of a word, the bomb explodes and that player loses. A vocabulary exercise under pressure, Tic-Tac Boom provides plenty of fun for quick-witted gamers.
8 Quiddler: a simple but stimulating experience
Quiddler is great fun for word smiths and vocabulary buffs. Players are challenged to create words from an increasing number of letter cards in their hands. Players start the game with a draw of three cards, but the number of cards drawn increases by one after each round up to eight rounds.
Each player must draw a new card and try to make a word of at least two cards per hand. Points are awarded based on the value of each card. The real gamble comes when players try to make longer words each turn while waiting, hoping to get a higher score.
seven Mad Gab: deciphering hilarious phrases
MadGab is a game that is more about what players hear than what they say. Players take turns trying to get their teammates to guess the actual phrase on a card they draw by saying it out loud. The phrase on the card could be “Bat Tree Snot Ink Looted” which, when spoken aloud, should sound like the answer “Batteries Not Include”.
There are versions of the game that include plastic mouth inserts that separate the lips and hold the mouth open, like braces. This makes it harder for players to speak, but possibly easier to understand. They also make the game more hysterical.
6 Big Boggle: Random and Competitive Fun
In Boggle, players shake a grid full of letter cubes to randomize their placement. Once the cubes are installed, the timer starts and players must find words by connecting letters on the grid. The letters must touch each other to form a word. Big Boggle adds an extra row of letters to each side of the grid for a total of 25 letters.
The extra letters allow for more creativity and word discovery. Big Boggle is simple, portable, and competitive, as players compare the words they find with each other, tallying high scores based on the number of words they uncover.
5 Codenames: testing players’ communication skills
In code names, the players are divided into teams and each chooses his team leader. An assortment of cards with words and a hidden color are then spread around the table and organized into a grid. The leader must lead his team members to choose the correct word cards by giving them clues about which cards to select.
The game relies on players having the same train of thought when looking and matching words. Not only does each team have to outsmart the other, but both must avoid the assassin card lurking in the deck. Code names also has several themed versions, including wonder, Harry Potterand The simpsons.
4 Taboo: Balancing Risks and Rewards
Taboo is another game more about word association than word building or spelling. He plays like Code names as a “Dealer” player tries to get his team to say as many keywords as possible on a card. The giver cannot use the keyword and, in a unique twist, must avoid any of the associated “taboo” words on the card when giving hints.
The dealer’s turns rotate as the game progresses, so each player has the opportunity to offer the clues. Points are awarded for each correct guess and subtracted for each taboo word spoken. The team with the most points wins.
3 Catchphrase: A fast-paced cooperative guessing game
In Slogan, players circulate an electronic disc with a screen containing more than 5,000 loaded words and phrases. The player holding the disc must make the group say the word on the screen by giving clues related to this word. Once the group understands the word, the player passes it to the next person.
Adding to the tension of the game, there is a timer that beeps faster while counting down. The player holding the disc when the timer goes off loses. Slogan is great fun, especially when it gets stressful. Nothing says fun like crazy screaming and frantic guessing.
2 Dirty Words Party Edition: A twist on the classic crossword puzzle
dirty words is a dice game where players must create as many correct sentences as possible within the given time. Players begin by rolling all 23 dice and tipping the timer to begin.
Players must use the face up words to create sentences and each sentence must connect to the others at one or more points, like a crossword. Points are counted for each die used at the end of the timer, and the winner is the player with the most points.
1 Cards Against Humanity: An Outrageous Twist on Apples to Apples
Cards Against Humanity is a grossly over-the-top, outrageous, and often politically incorrect filler game. Each player, in turn, places a blank card on the table. The remaining players must use a card or cards from their hand to fill in the blanks.
The player who originally placed the blank card chooses the winner, and the player with the most blank cards at the end wins the entire game. Cards Against Humanity is filled with all sorts of pop culture and historical references, and the available expansions provide even more ridiculous fun.
NEXT: The 10 Best Card Games, Ranked