What's Eric Playing? #162: Wibbell
More word games! Word games are a lot of fun (I typed loads of fun but then realized I was watching British TV while I was doing this and it’s affecting my dialect some, I guess?). Regardless, I, as I have in the past, have another word game for review. This one comes straight from Bez, who made another game I quite like, the In A Bind series (now Yogi, I suppose). Wibbell++ is more than one game, though; it’s actually a set of games. Wibbell is only one of them, but that’s the one I’m doing, so here we go. Anyways, it’s a word game; you’re gonna make some words; you in?
Setup is kind of trivial. There’s a deck:
It’s full of cards!
Take two cards, flip them face-up, and you’re REALLY ready to start! Like, this is a fast-paced game.
Wibbell actually plays pretty much the same as Anomia. It’s a bit harder, though, as it works essentially like this:
Each card has two letters. Using one letter from each card, make a word! Naturally it needs to be a real word, but don’t be a jerk about it. If you come up with one, shout it out!
If you’re the first, you got it! If there’s a tie, the shorter word wins! If it’s still a tie, whatever word comes first in the alphabet wins.
Either way, whoever wins, takes one of the cards and places it face-up in front of them. Now, whenever that winner subsequently guesses a word, they must include one of the letters on each card in front of them. That should up the ante a bit. When any player takes a fourth letter, they take the fifth letter as well, and then all players flip all of their cards face-down and place them in a scoring pile.
Play continues until the deck is depleted. If you would take the second-to-last card, take the last card as well, as a free bonus.
Once there are no cards left, count up all the cards in your scoring pile. The player with the most cards wins!
If you’d like to play with a variant to add difficulty for skilled players, you can force every player who wins a round (takes a fourth and fifth card) to place one of their five cards into a Permanent Row, which can never be turned face-down. They’ll still count for points; it’ll just make the game much more challenging.
PLAYER COUNT DIFFERENCES
Just increased contention at higher player counts, really. At two and three players, you should only use 24 or 36 cards in the deck, respectively. I am most fond of it at higher player counts, even up towards 7. It’ll be hardest for one player to break away since the two-letter words are easiest and there are lots of players. Whatever works, though.
- Long words. The major issue here is that long words will always lose tiebreakers, as a minor incentive to not just yell a word with a bunch of letters and hope the math works out. That said, if you’re the fastest, you’ll still get the cards, so whatever works.
- Don’t just … take cards. There might be combinations of cards that you just don’t want. Even if that’s not the case (and that’s fairly rare) you should be mindful that you have to use a letter from each card in front of you, so you don’t really want like, three S’s or something in your zone.
- Prepare words. Know what letters you’re looking for and have a few words in your back pocket. You want to be fast as soon as the card is flipped, so if you pick two random letters and make words with them, you’ve got at least a 1/13 chance of those words being usable (even more if they contain other letters!).
PROS, MEHS, AND CONS
- Super fast. I mean, it’s a very fast word game. Not many word games faster, I don’t think, other than maybe Werewords.
- Super portable. It’s basically the size of a deck of cards. Pop it in a Quiver or honestly in your back pocket and you’re basically there.
- Setup is super simple. You take out the deck and you’re ready to go. No fuss. Nothing that complicated.
- The Wibbell++ system is expandable and expanding. There’s more games than there were when I got it and more are being added. So if you’re trying to get into making a game, this might not be a bad place to start. Especially if you enjoy word games or are in need of a quick prototyping deck!
- One of a few word games that doesn’t incentivize analysis paralysis. That’s a common complaint that I have in word games, so it’s nice to see a fast, real-time word game to sort of solve that issue.
- Cards are very distinct. Makes it easy to tell them apart. I also really like the designs on the borders. The cards look nice.
- Some people really don’t like real-time games. I’m generally a fan, but this is something I’ve noticed and you should be mindful of. It’s just not a genre for every game group.
- Tuckboxes remain one of my nightmares. I’m just always worried about destroying them. It’s very stressful.
- Not as much laughter as Anomia. People tend not to say hilariously incorrect things so much as … regular incorrect things. Like the wrong word. It means people won’t be laughing as much so it’ll definitely not kick Anomia off of the “party game” plateau, if that’s what you’re looking for.
- The flow of the game can get a bit bogged down by challenges. If people are challenging every word (especially if people are using longer words) then the game’s flow is going to get significantly hampered, which will make the game a bit worse.
- The “yell a long word really fast” strategy seems vaguely optimal, at times? Especially if you’re playing with new players and they haven’t gotten a feel for the game. Once that happens, the game devolves a bit until players get faster on shorter words. But that interim might be enough to convince people not to play. If you’re worried about it, it might not be a bad idea to set a cap on word length (like 10 letters or something) to try and disincentivize that kind of behavior. Generally we’re fast enough now that that doesn’t work all that well, when we play.
OVERALL: 8.25 / 10
Honestly, I like Wibbell quite a lot. It’s a neat concept and a nice in-between between Anomia and a more-serious, less-party word game. It’s probably going to be a hit with the casual word game crowd (the same people who would likely enjoy Rewordable, for instance) first and foremost. The nice thing is, with the Wibbell++ system, if there are things you want to do to make it into a heavier game … you can! Prototype it, test it, share it! I personally think that’s pretty awesome. Either way, if you’re looking for a fast-paced word game, Wibbell might be a good choice to check out!