Matt: I need to have a Wordsy with you
Robin: Don’t you mean a word?
Matt: Yeah it’s like that, but I leave some of the letters out.
Robin: Right… so what’s it about.
Matt: It’s about last BRDGMNHT
Robin: Last what…?
Matt: You kept BNDNGCRDS
Robin: This is ridiculous.
If you don’t already know what kind of game Wordsy is from the title and the cover then you probably shouldn’t be playing it… but if you’re here then we might as well make a start, hey? Here’s the set up.
Yep. That’s some letters alright! So now all you need to do is think up a word that contains as many of those letters as possible, and prioritises the ones on the 5 point side of the grid as those are, quite clearly, worth the most points! It can be any length, it can have as few or as many of those letters as you like (and can think of). It’s all very liberating for a word game.
If that’s all there was to Wordsy it probably wouldn’t be all that fun. Just imagine playing with someone who had to keep thinking until they got the perfect word (which is obviously supercalifragilisticexpialidocious). Fortunately Wordsy implements a clever and player driven timing system to keep things moving snappily and pushing up the excitement levels. I’ll admit that a word game doesn’t exactly start very high on the thrill-o-meter for me, so anything to help it out some is a very good thing.
Wordsy is something of a race. The first player to settle on a word flips the egg timer and the rest of the players have 30 seconds to scribble something down in, without doubt, a desperate panic. Unless you have some decent self control. I seem not to have. The trick is that that first player earns some bonus points if their word is better than every other player; everyone else can earn a bonus if their word beats the flipper. So flipping that egg timer is a risk. You want to be reasonably confident you can beat everyone else, but 30s can be enough time to come up with something very good, if you don’t spend the first 10 of those seconds panicking like I do. That’s something that gets a bit easier with practice.
It’s a nicely gamey mechanic that gets you thinking beyond the immediate activity. It’s no longer about finding the perfect word it’s about finding words that are good enough. Is it worth spending more time trying to think of something better? An aim I find noble in spirit and utterly impossible in practice as my brain staunchly refuses to come up with anything else. Once you’ve flipped the timer, you are sat there, relishing your opponents’ panic but more than capable of getting worried yourself as you wait to see whether you’ve rushed too quickly, or worse you start coming up with better words yourself! The bonuses are a satisfyingly clever tweak that are little effort to explain but add a lot to making the game fun.
And that’s pretty much the game! It’s simple, quick, forgiving: your final score is your best 5 plus any bonuses, allowing you a couple of duff rounds. The freedom you have in creating words really works to make the game accessible to players who haven’t spend much time with word games, though experienced scrabble players still have a pretty obvious edge here. That said, the prioritisation of certain letters over others can result in some surprise outcomes. It’s probably the only word game where I’ve seen ‘pond’ beat ‘pedagoguery’.
There’s also a solo mode, which finally gives you an excuse to shout out all those long clever words you know! Not that you should need one. The solo mode really does put you under pressure, demanding high scoring words within a single flip of the egg timer, if you want to earn bonus points. Should you take too long the timer will slide down the card it rests on potentially costing you penalty points. My first game of this saw me scraping through with a basic win, but it’s a long way from there to a full hard mode win!
I feel like Wordsy is the word game for people who didn’t realise they like word games. Which is a challenging selling point! For my tastes it is far more enjoyable than Scrabble which always felt too restrictive, but I still only get so much enjoyment from spelling and spotting words that fit letter combinations. Perhaps that’s a criticism of my too-limited vocabulary! I generally enjoy playing with meaning as in Codenames or Word Slam more.
Whether you’ll enjoy Wordsy or not depends on whether you like the sound of the puzzle I’ve described here. You can give it a try on Twitter with the Wordsy bot, although I find it more fun with others than solo, if only to see how much I suck at word games after a couple of drinks! If you enjoy that then you won’t go wrong with a real set. The production value is great, and it would work well at introducing gamier mechanisms to fans of wordsmithing but, be warned, I don’t think it offers more than one can get from, say, Scrabble, except for its accessibility.