wen doing writted ritings and stuff I neva thort I wud need to spell words wot it is that I rote…and even less thort ov was playing a game wot uses letters and nuffing els….boy was I in for a surprize when I came acros the Stuff By Bez stand during the pres evning at the UKGE 2018…
I usually have a format for systematically guiding me, or template if you will, that gently directs my inane wanderings through a game and the subsequent review. The following will break with tradition and become an entity unto its self.
I do not know what ambience letters creat so here is something gentile and relaxing to accompany your read…oh, yes…press play.
There is no humorous pre-amble here because there is only the words…there is no humorous sutuation…no comical scenario related to the game…just words…comprised of lettgers….soooo many letters…hundresd of them…millions of them….spewing forth upon both sides of my table.
What’s All The Fuss About?
Bez has created a clever deck of cards containing a series of paired letters and a single number. Meaningless and completely unrelated on their own, but like swarming locusts, they form weighty words when combined in subtle arrangements and give us scoring VICTORY points…I must point out that my analogy is not suggesting that locusts also combine to make weighty words.
Wibbell++ is the bas from which Bez’s over creative mind has conceived numerous word games that simply use the same deck of cards.
Fortunately for me (and I am pleased that this is a first on BSoMT) there are now a plethora of solitaire game rules. Nothing new there I hear your loud and scathing mind think, but yes! This is something special because there are not what we could term “copious” quantities of word games that facilitate solo play.
I also need to get out of this nasty habit of using the word solo. This is primarily because of the wargaming fraternity as solo is more often referred to as a head to head game whereby a player enacts both sides…in my eyes a less than satisfactory way of solitaire play as I need an opponent albeit an artificial one. Solitaire, then will have to suffice as my reference to a game that gives access to the soloist to play against an AI, Bot or even the game itself. This digression then throws up an anomaly with the solitaire word games I am about to discuss as they have no opponent….so how does this fit in to the great scheme of things?
Wibbell++ and its many manifestations:
- Yuzabell: one player, 7-15 minutes, 48 card deck, 8 turns
Yuzabell is a negative scoring game…not a negative game in its self, as it is a quick, mind bender of a jaunt (especially if the timed variant is called into play) We work our way through the deck six cards at a time, each time trying to use as many cards as we can to construct a word. Cards used in a word are discarded whilst cards left in our grubby little mits are placed in a face up pile. This process is repeated eight times leaving us opportunity to construct one final word at the game end. All those used letters discarded earlier are to our benifit… however, and it is a mighty however… those we couldn’t slot into a word are counted up and give us our final score. Here we are striving, in an ideal world, to use up all forty eight cards to give us a zero final score. If we are left with more than nine cards, this is not considered a win situation. So simple yet so difficult a challenge.
- Extendabell: 1 player, 5-10 minutes play, 24 cards used
Extendebell is a super quick but deceptively difficult game. Half of the deck is removed after the full deck is shuffled, then we draw a hand of five cards from which we make a three letter word on the table. Now the fun starts. We can play any cards from our hand on top of the already placed cards as well as adding a single card to the start or end of the created word but each turn must always be finished with a complete word. This is the tester for us now as we are striving for ever lengthier words. In doing so, we have opportunity to rebuild our base word, add to it and, through a strange morphemic transition, create a final scoring word once the draw deck has been exhausted. Not all cards will get used (and occasionally we will be forced to cull cards in our hand to bring in new blood). This unspent, abandoned, discarded pile of letters sadly has an enormous detrimental effect on our end of game scoring. The numbers on the cards are irrelevant here. We multiply the length of our final word by the number of cards we actually used during gameplay (in other words 24-discarded/unused cards) to give us our grand total. This scoring system is clever as we do not get bogged down as in scrabble with numbers, we just need to focus on letters and words, striving for seven, eight or more letters in our final words whilst trying to avoid discarding. Quick and, at times, frustrating…especially when you have no choice but to discard and that knowledge of a card that will reduce final scoring seriously affects the mind…
This little deck of twenty four cards can rapidly send us into a battle of solo mind-games where we out-psych ourselves.
- Mickell: 1 player, 20 minutes playtime, full 48 deck of cards
Mickell is a canny beast for sure. Here we are faced with simultaneously coordinating three words at a time. Again gameplay is ridiculously simple. Draw a card and either play a card or discard it (usually tactical discarding because the letters are pants).
The basic premise here is to try to score as higher word as possible. The photo above shows that we work on three lines of cards, each turn placing a card to the right of one of these three rows, if possible. It is entirely up to us when we choose to score a word so long as the word is legal (not made up) and uses all the letters in a row. Obviously holding out for the longer words will benefit us when it comes to scoring but a possible strategy is to try and make many smaller words. If we manage to score a word, cards from that row are removed. Two of these (for words of five or fewer letters) are discarded whilst the remainder make a facedown score pile…note that the more skilled of us scoring six or seven letter words only discard one card and score the rest…and the sheer genius wordsmiths managing an impressive eight letter word, keep the whole bloody lot in a score pile. Not something I have managed yet!
Play goes on until we use the entire deck of forty eight cards. Then begins the scoring which involves us counting up the number of cards in our score pile. It is evident that if we score a three letter word, we are discarding two and only scoring one card…so, obviously holding out for lengthier words will benefit in the long term.. but then we become plagued with decisions about card laying. Which row does a useful vowel need to be placed…how can we place the useless X? When will that cup of tea cool down enough not to scold my face off?
Very quick. Very simple but simultaneously working on three words strangely focuses the mind to the point of ignoring all distractions.
- Quintupell: 2-4 players with a solo variant, 15-30 minutes,
The previous three games I have played numerous times but Quintupell I have only managed a couple of games, so it is still fairly unfamiliar to me. That said, the way the game works is probably the most cunning of the set. All cards have two letters on them as can be seen in all the photos and just as in the previous games, we have been allowed to use either the top or bottom letter when creating a word. This is still the case in Quintupell, but any words we score in this game that use the top letters force us to discard the card who’s top letter was employed. In other words, we are only scoring lower letter cards.
A full deck is used for a draw deck. An offer of five cards gets laid out before us on the table. Our turn consist of taking a card from the offer (and replacing it from the draw deck) or using the cards in our hand (limit of five…hence the game name?) to make a word. Lower letters go straight into our score pile, higher letters are chucked away into a discard pile (this discard pile will become the draw deck once the original draw deck expires)…and we can take, with great satisfaction, two cards into our hand from the discard/draw pile/offer (depending on availability) if we scored a five letter word.
The difference between multiplayer and solo is simly that where multiplayers get to work through all the cards and compare their victory pile (lower letter pile) we, the soloist have to remove a card from the game each time we pick a card from the centre offer. It is the highest numbered card on offer that is removed, which incidentally is indicative to letter frequency. This means the necessity to draw also reduces our opportunity to score later in the game. Suddenly very difficult decisions have to be made.
probably the most tricky of the game from a ‘thinky’ point of view but equally great in its challenge.
As all of the aforementioned variants are all specifically geared up for solitaire play, they are all most suitable for one player. Need I say more?
The Real Nitty Gritty:
In some ways there is little point padding this out with the normal subheadings. So I won’t!
Each variant has an A4 side of rules all that simply explain how the game plays, the aims and objectives and allows us to get into the thick of letter mayhem quickly.
Each game requires just the one deck of cards so (with some minor deck adjustments depending on variant) opening the box, shuffling cards and creating a draw deck is almost all there is to set up and similarly packing away. Quick and to the point.
Table space is also little to speak of…some variants take virtually no space needing only sufficient surface to accommodate nine cards width for the larger words where otheres will need space for three card by five or six card grid… but ultimately all could easily be accommodated on a train table or large tray…some of my photos are taken of the games set up on my caravan table (from this summer’s vacation in Cornwall) One could, with care and great balance, play on one’s knee… but that can turn things into more of a dexterity game and not really what Wibbel is about…although…solo dexterity word game variants…any thougts Bez?
It is possible for certain variants to tax us to the point of failure but this set of rules is more about manipulating the old grey matter, using resources (the letters) to their optimum potential and going for high scores (or onr zero score). Now, I am not normally a fan of “beat your own score” in solo games but in this case Bez has played each to death and devised a scoring hierarchy so we have goals to try to achieve. That said, it is still more about the creative journey that gets us to the final score much more than devising a fancy strategy or having a deep longing for a real opponent. It is about how we use the letters in front of us within the constraints of each rule set to achieve greatness throughout the game, not just a triumphant finale.
Me, Myself and I:
I did surprise myself with the collection. Some were a simple challenge where others actually created an internal competitiveness… how, in a solo word game? I don’t know but there you have it! They are quick but incredibly challenging games and as I like using language (often poorly) have proven to myself that playing Wibbel solos shows my creative vocabulary is in dire need of further development.
This set of games grew very quickly on me and I found that the combination of simplicity and speed of these games meant that I was able to fit all of them (or multiple repetitions of single games) into a twenty or thirty minute game session. This makes it a very quick, easily accessable solo gaming fix. I shall keep this in my caravan so there will always be a solo game at hand (that could equally become a multiplayer game…as Mrs P is a big word game fan) when I go away for a weekend stay or lengthy holiday.
Yay or Nay?
Such a tricky one to think about, is this game…group of games… as it is my first venture or experience on BSoMT with a solo word games. I will be honest and admit that there are very few word games I have enjoyed (Paperback, Length & Wit and Unspeakable Words being the only three) and none until now that have been soloable. I think this collection of titles using one cunning deck wordlessly launches the BSoMT 1d8 die for a very creditable (6)
I wonder if I score this justly…and, in some sense need to think about my ambiguous scoring criterion. This is a fantastic collection of solo word games and, for those that love words, need a solo game fix and are short of space (or out and about) Bez’s solo Wibbell++ collection is perfect. I am not a lover of word games but surprisingly did enjoy playing these… so realistically this is actually a very creditable high score, all things considered. With that in mind I do very highly recommend Wibbell++ and all its manifestations. A very clever and engaging selection of rulesets for a simple deck of cards. If you like a challenge and enjoy word games, this is a must. If, like me you are not such a word fan, then this is still a special deck to have tucked away in a small space or pocket for those occasions when something a little different is called for rather than big, heavy Euros on both sides of a soloist’s table.
My entropic dystopian axonometric domestic establishment requires substantial embelishment…looking down from the ceiling it looks like my titchy undesirable (even frightening) living room needs redecorating!
Something For The Weekend, Sir?
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