- Scrabble Deluxe Edition: Yeah, I’m going to review it anyway. Of all the variant boards for the original game, this is one of the best. There have been a few different models for the Deluxe Edition – I use the 2000s one, of course – but they’re mostly the same: the grid is raised to allow for the tiles to stay on the board without moving, there is a cloth bag instead of the silvery plastic one for tiles, and the tiles are a darker wood. The selling point for me, however, was the turntable – again, it removes neck strain and allows for board movement, not to mention providing a nice place to sit for my cat.
The Diamond Anniversary Edition, above, is a similar product – it has the raised grid, smaller turntable, along with curved racks, a folding board, trays for the tiles, and newly-colored premium squares.
- Super Scrabble: Instead of the 15 x 15 board, Super Scrabble has a 21 x 21 tile board, 200 tiles, and more premium squares (including special Quadruple Word and Quadruple Letter Spaces) – which provides for some high-scoring, but ridiculously long, games. And there enlies the problem with Super Scrabble – you have to invest a good 3-4 hours for just a two-player game, at which point you might want to just play a long game of Monopoly.
- UpWords: Basically Scrabble, Star Trek chess style. Along with going along the length and width of the 10 x 10 tile board, you can stack upon the tiles on the board for extra points. It’s a lot of fun and the game moves fairly quickly, and it’s also fun to have the tiles stacked high. However, a major problem with the game design is the lack of a bag for tiles (I originally used a landscape-sealed manila envelope, then the bag from an old Scrabble game once I got the Deluxe Edition).
- Scrabble Scramble (a k a Scrabble Express): Unlike the Express versions of Monopoly and Sorry!, Scrabble Scramble is like Scrabble. Instead of the 100 tiles, there are 12 cubes, and instead of the regular board, there is a 9 x 9 Twister-esque mat. The rules are modified so that the game moves quickly – enough to play two or three games within the time period of a full-on Scrabble game. Everything – the cubes, the mat, the timer, and the scorepad and golf pencil – fits in a cup, so it’s a nice travel game, as well.
- Boggle: My second-favorite game. I always lose to my mother (but I’ve only been shut out twice, and one was a 5-way shutout), but it’s always a fun challenge for the 3-minute word game.
- Jumbulaya: I heard about this from its many awards – 2008 Games magazine Word Game of the Year, a Mensa Select Game – and it certainly rises to the occasion. Unlike other tile word games, it’s a ‘word jumble’ game and not a crossword game – it’s only linear. For another thing, the points are tallied at the end of the game – which only comes when a player claims all nine lines, when a player forms a ten-tile word (there are ST, ED, and CH tiles along with the Qu, now standard in all games except Scrabble), or when a player finds a ‘JUMBULAYA’, a 7-, 8-, or 9-tile word going from one end of the board to the other. It’s not only a game of word knowledge, but a game of strategy and of mental stimulation – there are few better feelings from board games than finding the JUMBULAYA (which is much like catching the Golden Snitch – it ends the game, but it does not always guarantee victory – I found it in the first game we played, but lost by only five points). While it takes a while for game play – a JUMBULAYA can only be found when a six-tile word is put on the board – regardless, it’s quickly becoming my new second-favorite.
Any other word games I should know about (Bananagrams, &c.)? If there are, leave ’em in the comments!