What's Eric Playing? #159: Rewordable

What's Eric Playing? #159: Rewordable

Base price: $16.
2 – 8 players.
Play time: ~30 minutes.
BGG Link
Buy on Amazon (via What’s Eric Playing?)
Logged plays: 4

I’m always on the hunt for a good word game (though I’ve already found several, with PaperbackHardbackLetter Tycoon, and Word Domination), and so Rewordable caught my eye with its flashy color scheme and multi-letter cards. Naturally, I picked it up, played it, and am now reviewing it. How’s it hold up to the other word games?

CONTENTS

SETUP

Setup’s super simple. There are a ton of cards:

Shuffle them, first. You can essentially choose how many cards you want to play with, and that’ll determine how much time you spend playing the game. The general recommendation is 20 cards per player, with a cap of 100 cards, maximum. If you want a longer game, use more, if you want a shorter game, use fewer.

Deal each player 5 cards, and put three face-up in the center. Now, add in the Rewardables:

These are nice little tokens which give bonus points for fulfilling certain criteria.

Once you’ve done that, you’re pretty much ready to go!

GAMEPLAY

Game’s played as a series of turns in which you, as you might guess from most word games, spell words using the cards in your hand. Unlike other word games (except for Paperback, really), these words are sometimes chunks of letters that you can use.

The key thing about this game is that you can also improve words that have already been played by appending, prepending, or inserting cards from your hand into those words. This makes your own words more valuable, and allows you to steal your opponents’ words! You must play at least one card from your hand each turn, otherwise you can discard as many cards as you want to the bottom of the deck. You can also use the cards in the center to help you!

The Rewardables are certain criteria that you can fulfill by creating, improving, or stealing a word. Certain Rewardables give you points for the length of the word (in letters or cards), the color of a word, or stealing / improving a word! Once you have fulfilled that criteria with a word, you take the Rewardable and replenish it from the stack. While your words can be stolen, Rewardables cannot be taken from you once you’ve earned them.

That’s pretty much the entire game! You go around until the deck is depleted, then you score:

  • Blue cards: 1 point
  • Pink cards: 2 points
  • Yellow cards: 3 points
  • Rewardables: 4 points

This does also mean that you can just count the number of letters in words you’ve spelled and add in 4 x (# Rewardables), if you want.

The player with the most points wins!

PLAYER COUNT DIFFERENCES

One thing you should be aware of is that downtime kind of increases significantly as player count increases, exacerbated by the likelihood of players taking cards from the center three cards (meaning that you can’t really plan for your turn until it’s … your turn). This causes the game to take a lot longer. Plus, you might also want to steal words from your opponents once they’ve played them, so you’ll need to probably take a hot minute on your turn to get the lay of the land. If everyone does this, the game will take a very long time.

Also, more players makes stealing words more viable (and necessary, to be honest), as the expected number of Rewardables each player will get decreases as player count goes up (assuming that each player takes, say, one Rewardable per turn). You should be focusing on getting Rewardables because of their point value, but it’s useful to also scheme to steal big words from other players.

That said, I’d probably shy away from this at > 4 (opting for something like Anomia), just given those concerns. Two-player is a good state for this game.

STRATEGY

  • Focus on Rewardables. They can’t be taken from you and they’re worth the most points, so it’s often to your advantage to go for those each time. Bonus points if you can take more than one in a turn or take one and steal an opponent’s word.
  • Prefixes and suffixes are your friend. They make your words more difficult to steal and can often net you Rewardables, if you play your cards right.
  • There are several Rewardables for single-color words. This means if you have “ION” as a yellow card and can’t use it, don’t despair! It might be worth a bunch of points later. Doesn’t mean someone else won’t steal the word, but at least you got the Rewardable.
  • You need to steal pretty frequently. If you can’t make a high-scoring word yourself, you need to try to steal it from another player. Especially if it’s your last turn; you’re going to want those extra points (or at least you’ll want to keep them from your opponent).

PROS, MEHS, AND CONS

PROS

  • Nice aesthetic. I really love the colors. They’re bright and make the whole game seem bright and exciting, which I really like.
  • The stealing words thing is pretty neat. Makes you value weird prefixes and suffixes a lot more. Also you can go after players that are in the lead, which can be useful. This might not be to everyone’s liking, though.
  • Nice, easy-to-understand scoring system. I’ve been playing Fletter and having some trouble with its scoring system, but this one makes a lot more sense to me. Each card is worth the number of letters it has. Simple.
  • I like the ability to modify the game length by adding / removing cards. It’s nice, especially for a game with as simple of a concept as this one.

MEHS

CONS

  • Can feel a bit luck-of-the-draw. If your opponent has the right cards for the Rewardables at the right time, you can just be … hosed. Not much you can do about it, especially since so much can change between turns (especially as player count goes up). This is a similar thing I had an issue with in Letter Tycoon — since the cards in the middle can change consistently, there’s no point really planning out a word until it’s your turn, which means:
  • As with most word / spelling games, there’s a high opportunity for players to just get ruined by analysis paralysis. Like, it’s real bad. I think we’re at the point where all word games should just have timers of some kind. As I mentioned previously, this game also kind of forces you to plan on your turn (maybe a word came up that you want / need to steal, for instance), so there’s a fair bit of downtime.
  • Maybe I’m just bad, but I’ve infrequently felt like I didn’t have the right chunks available to spell words. It was a tiny bit frustrating since I felt like I had a fair bit of dead weight, especially since it felt like the game was built to prevent that (cards are supposed to be “useful chunks” rather than individual letters). This has happened in several games that I’ve played, though.

OVERALL: 6.75 / 10

Overall, I enjoy Rewordable. I think I prefer it at two players because it’s easiest to predict the state of the game and you have a bit more of the tug-of-war thing going on with stealing words. With more players the downtime / analysis paralysis goes out of control without really gaining anything useful (since you also lose the ability to really predict any of the game state by your next turn). That said, if you’re looking for a cheap and interesting spin on a word game (especially for travel), this is not a bad one to check out. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s challenged everything I knew about word games, but I enjoy it and would play it again. Plus, I really like the design aesthetic. It pops. Game looks great!

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