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15 Great Word Games – Daily Writing Tips

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Writers and editors are among the most dedicated (read: obsessive) fans of word games. (I play Scrabble once a week — a relatively low frequency that may indicate only a mild addiction.) As the name of an old Reader’s Digest feature suggests, they enrich your word power, but they’re also fun. Here is a roster of some of the most entertaining games, from traditional contests like Password to innovative variations like Upwords. Most games listed have children’s versions, and many are available in both analog and digital form.

1. Apples to Apples Players take turns judging which noun selected by a player from a hand of cards, each labeled with a noun, best matches — on criteria such as funniest, most appropriate, or least appropriate — an adjective printed on another card. (Cards)

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2. Balderdash Players take turns crafting fake definition for obscure words in the hope that others will select the false meaning from a set of possible definitions. (Cards)

3. Boggle Players take turns jumbling a four-by-four grid of letter cubes, and all players try to form as many words as they can from letters displayed on adjacent cubes. (Letter cubes).

4. Bulls-Eye Players create words from cards labeled with single letters; they take turns rolling a die to determine the word length that earns points for each round, then advance tokens on a board according to how many points they earned. (Cards and board with tokens)

5.Catch Phrase Players take turns providing teammates with clues to the identity of a secret word before a timer goes off. (Handheld electronic timer with a database of words)

6. Password Players try to get teammates to identify a secret word by providing one-word clues; teams take turns, and the number of points awarded for a correct guess decreases with each failed attempt. (Cards)

7. Scattergories Players list as many words belonging to a category and starting with a given letter as they can. (Cards)

8. Scrabble Players use letter tiles to form words they can attach to words already placed on a grid ; they rack up points based on the relative values of the letters and of grid squares that, when used, multiply the value of letters or words. (Board and letter tiles)

9. Scrabble Upwords Players form words by placing letter tiles on a board, but, unlike in Scrabble, all letters have equal value, and bonuses are earned by forming new words by placing new tiles on top of some existing ones. (Board with letter tiles)

10. Taboo Players try to get teammates to guess a word by providing other word clues, but they are prohibited from using a list of the most obvious clues. (Cards)

11. Text Twist Players form as many words as possible from a randomly generated group of letters before a timer runs out. (Computer)

12. Word Blur Players use word tiles to prompt teammates to correctly guess a secret word. (Tiles)

13. Word Zigzag In this Boggle-like game with a grid of letters (unlike as in Boggle, in this game, the size of the grid is variable), players attempt to find as many strings of letters that form words as they can. Not to be confused with Zig-Zag, described below. (Application, or paper and pencil)

14. Words with Friends This high-tech multiplayer variation on Scrabble, which has achieved phenomenal success thanks, in part, to a number of celebrity aficionados, allows multiple simultaneous games with known or unknown opponents. (Application)

15. Zig-Zag Players try to guess each other’s secret words by testing how many letters of another word are in the secret word, and where the letters in common are positioned. (This game seems to be out of print, but used copies are available online, or prospective players could recreate the game materials from descriptions.)

Update: Looking for more? We created another list with 50 more great word games, so check that out

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