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Word on the Street

Reviewed by Herb Levy

(Out of the Box Games, 2 to 8 players, ages 12 and up, 20-30 minutes; $24.99)

 

wordstboxWord games are a challenge. I don’t mean playing them (although, of course, there’s that). I mean making a word game that is not some clone of Scrabble or Boggle. But Out of the Box has managed to do just that by building on an original concept by Jack Degnan with game play design by Max Winter Osterhaus, Al Waller, Ellen Winter and Leah Winter Osterhaus to present a different twist on the genre of word play with Word on the Street.

Word on the Street comes with 17 Letter Tiles, 216 two-sided Category cards, a card tray, 30-second timer, game board and rules sheet. Players are divided into two teams with the board situated between them. In keeping with the “street” theme, there is a “median strip” down the center of the board with spaces marked by letters (B through Y, no vowels – except for Y – and no J, Q, X or Z). The 17 Letter Tiles are placed on their matching spaces on the median. A category card is drawn (green cards are easier than blue ones) and the action begins.

With the category card drawn, the timer is turned over. The team on turn now has 30 seconds to come up with a word that matches the category card. For example, if the category is “a color”, then any color will fit the bill. The trick here is to come up with a word that will bring those letter tiles closer to your side of the street.

wordst2The team can discuss which word to choose before making their final selection. Once agreed, the team spells the word chosen, moving each appropriate letter tile one space closer to their side of the street each time that letter appears in the word. So, for example, if choosing “purple” for their word, the letters “r” and “l” move one space closer to their side; the letter “p”, because it appears twice, moves two spaces closer. Should time run out before a word is chosen or a tile moved, that potential movement is lost. Now, the opposing team gets their chance by drawing a new card and choosing a word that fits the new category.

Once a letter tile has moved three spaces off the median, it is off the board and captured by the team who has brought it over to their side. The first team to capture 8 letter tiles wins!

While team discussion concerning an answer is part of the fun, you have to act fact as there is a time element here. You only have 30 seconds to come up with a word. But it’s not just any word. You need to come up with the right word, one that will pull letter tiles towards you and, at the same time, draw them away from the edge of the street that is close to your opponents! Not as easy as you might think. And “table talk” is not limited to your team either. The opposing team is allowed to suggest answers to you! (Less than optimal answers to be sure but allowed just the same.) But the beauty of the game is that you don’t need a large vocabulary to do well nor do you need to be a spelling champion (although, admittedly, getting longer words which will pull more tiles towards you each turn that fit the categories will help you on the road to victory).

Word on the Street adds an interesting wrinkle to the genre of word game play adding a “tug of war” element that is both very different and very visual. This makes for a very good time. At least, that’s the Word on the Street.

 


 

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