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Subject: Bananagrams for gamers and non-gamers rss

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Mike Amos
United States
Minneapolis
Minnesota
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As I've been participating in Secret Santa this year I've been thinking about how long it's been since I added anything but a rules question to the site. I decided to see what games I've played the most but not reviewed and put in a few. When I looked at my plays (not an exhaustive list) I found Bananagrams at the top. It's probably a little over represented there because often a session of bananagrams will entail multiple games.

So, what do I think of one of the most ubiquitous games today?

Cost: Clocking in at $10 (US) this game is about as cheap as you can get a full game, especially with plastic tiles and a clothe bag.

Accessibility: This game is pretty accessible, although it's a little less so than many people seem to think. Most non-gamers I played this with (and that's most of the people I played this with) seemed to look at it and thing "Oh, Scrabble, I love Scrabble".

What most people don't quite get is that you don't just constantly get seven tiles to play off the person who is able to make long words. You play off your own words, meaning that if you can only make small words, no one will bail you out. Additionally, with this being a simultaneous action game there is value in speed, also speed allows one to screw with everyone else in the game, making this slightly more interactive, in a very specific way, than Scrabble.

Replayability: I enjoyed this game straight out of the bag. Everyone else I played with seemed to as well, although they would look a little dazed the first two games as all their Scrabble assumptions got challenged.

The challenge with this game is that anyone who knows how to deconstruct games will determine in a couple games who to leverage the roles optimally while other players, even ones better at puzzle solving, will get frustrated by all that can be thrown their way. meaning that this game sours rather quickly. Most of the non-gamers I played this with had short memories for the p4wnage. They would frown on the game for a day or two but ask to play it at the next opportunity but it didn't take long for the memory to reassert itself.

Replayability is limited, more with gamers than non.

Fun: For me, this game has a very short fun cycle. I enjoyed learning the mechanics but once I "solved" it, it was no longer fun to play. Barring randomness it quickly becomes predictable and manipulable.

Summary: This game is ok. Initially it is fun for all but it will become tiresome for all involved. It's relying far more on mom's buying it for their kids who "like to play games" than on being genuinely good.

EDIT: 11/20 correcting some formatting.
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Ian Ichamoe
United States
Iowa
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wow...a bit harsh. I don't think Bananagrams was ever meant to be deep (It's called "Bananagrams" for Pete's sake ... and it's stored in a fat banana!)

It's really more of speed scrabble. If people hate word games (scrabble, boggle, etc.) they'll hate this. But it serves well as a filler on game night. (It's also great as a filler because you can end it at any time(.

Nice review, though.
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Greg Austin
United States
Wisconsin
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Good review, though I'm not sure I understand how the game is "solved".
I've had multiple plays with pretty evenly matched thinkers and wordsmiths and the outcome has never been a given. But then most of the enjoyment I've had with the game was having some nice quick word-building interspersed with a good deal of messing and sparring with other people verbally.
 
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