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I have always been one who loves to play word games such as Scrabble, Crosswords, Word Searches and the like and upon a recent visit to see some of my family over the Christmas period we come to a point where there was little in the way of entertainment in terms of television or radio, so what better way to spend the evening then to bring out one of the many board-games and this instance it was “Boggle”.
Boggle is classified as a board game, but in reality it is not because there is no board. Instead there is a rack that is compartmentalised into sixteen slots arranged as a four by four matrix. This rack also comes with sixteen dice and each of the dice has a different letter on each of the six sides. There is also a transparent dome that fits on top of the rack. A three-minute egg timer is also supplied which is that of the old-fashioned type, made of plastic with white sand inside.
Each of the dice is white and has the letters printed in black which is bold and easy to see and the awkward letters such as ‘M’, ‘W’ and ‘Z’ (so it can’t me mistaken as an ‘N’) are underlined much to my relief as I feel that many mistakes could be made whilst rushing to write down words within the three minute time limit. There is also a ‘Qu’ that appears on one of the sides of one of the dice and counts as two letters.
The game states that it is suitable for 2 to 6 players, but I feel that many more than 6 people could play as long as you have enough room around your table or playing surface. The game is also recommended for ages of 8 years or older.
Each player will also require a pencil/pen and paper to write with. This is not supplied with the game, but is not something that anybody should complain about as I am sure that we have all got these somewhere in the house.
The idea of the game is that for each turn one of the players shakes the rack with the sixteen dice inside, first ensuring that the dome fitted on top and secure, then allowing the dice to drop so that each of the dice fit snugly into the compartments and therefore forming a random arrangement of letters. The rack is then placed on the table, the egg timer is turned upside down and the game begins. In effect this game is a mixture of skill and luck but depends more on skill and having a good vocabulary, although the game could be regarded as a good educational game for the younger ones to improve their vocabularies when played with adults.
Whist the three-minutes pass by, each player is required to write down as many words that they can see in the arrangement of letters. Words can be formed from adjoining letters such that each letter in the word must be next to it’s preceding letter either horizontally, vertically or diagonally also bearing in mind that you may use each dice only once for any particular word. Each word must be three letters or more to score any points.
All words are allowed including plurals and they must appear in the English dictionary, so it is advisable to have a dictionary at hand when scoring to resolve any disputed words as quickly as possible. Abbreviations, slang and hyphenated words are not allowed though.
The game finishes or shall I say that it should finish when the three-minutes have passed i.e. when all of the sand is in the bottom of the egg timer. I have often found this to go un-noticed possibly for quite some time, but then again each player has had the same amount of time so all is fair. One solution to this would buy one of those new egg timers that buzz or make a sound when the time has elapsed.
So, the time has passed and it is now time for each person in turn to read aloud the words that they have found pointing out how they have used the dice to make the word and for any disputed words to be checked in the dictionary.
As each of the players reads one of their words, if another player has the same word they should also say that they have that word. In this instance each player with that word is required to cross it from the list as you can only score on unique words. When all of the players have finished showing their words it is time to score their remaining words and points are awarded for each of the words based on the length.
3 letter word – 1 point 4 letter word – 1 point 5 letter word – 2 points 6 letter word – 3 points 7 letter word – 5 points 8+ letter word – 11 points
The winner of the round is the person who has scored the most total points. There are no particular rules for the game from this point on. You could keep playing until one of the players has one five rounds for example or you could even keep playing whilst keeping a running total of the scores until one of the players reaches one hundred points. How you decide who wins, is entirely up to you.
Each game in terms of playing time lasts for 3 minutes, but if you take into account the time it will take to do the scoring then you are looking at up to 10 minutes per game bearing in mind how many players there are. So the game is very quick to play and that is something that I do especially like about the game unlike games of “Scrabble” that typically take anywhere between 45 minutes and 1 hour to play.
An important thing to bear in mind is that depending on the group of people who you are playing with, you may want to change the rules slightly. I am no mastermind, however when playing this game over the Christmas period with some of the younger members of the family we decided to scrap the rule about only allowing unique words to be allowed as the younger ones would end up scoring 0 points obviously because their vocabularies would not be as good as the adults. The game is quite flexible in this respect as it allows the rules to be changed without losing any of its appeal.
I recently bought “Boggle” from Toys-R-Us for £9.99 and according to their web site the price has not changed. For this price, I would say that this is great value for money for the hours of fun that you will get from this family game whilst keeping the children entertained and quiet!
To conclude, I would say that this game is great fun for something that is such a simple concept. It is incredibly easy to set up and has very few parts so in theory it’s less likely that parts will get lost. I first played this around a year ago and still regard this as one of my all time favourites. I find this game to be very compulsive and it is a great family game too. My final rating is 5 stars – highly recommended.