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Subject: Keesdrow - Like the Classic BOGGLE Only Different. rss

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Randy Cox
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Quick overview of the rules and mechanics (well-covered elsewhere on this game's entry):

Put all the tiles on the game board (rules say to orient all the same direction, but I don't know why)
Players take turn finding words in the chains of letters (diagonally and orthogonally connected)
Player marks letters used with colored pegs
blank No peg means letter hasn't been used and it's worth the value stated on board (1 to 5)
A Green peg means letter has been used once and it's worth the value stated times two
B Yellow peg means letter has been used twice and it's worth the value stated times three
C Red peg means letter has been used exactly three times and is not usable for remainder of the game
Player scores their word: sum of letters used (including incremental bonuses, meaning a letter used three times in the same word is worth six times the stated value)

Let's start with the name. I don't mind it as much as some people do. Saying "Keys - drow" (as in the word drown without the final letter) isn't so hard. But I always follow it up with "That's WORDSEEK spelled backwards" and the other person usually chuckles or sighs. Anyway, the name is a little too cutesy, but I can live with it.

The game itself reads like a classic. Put a bunch of letter tiles on the board and treat it as a huge Boggle board. Then, find words and put pegs in little holes next to the letters to indicate how many times each letter has been used (cumulatively for the game). Once a letter is used three times, it's off-limits to all players for the rest of the game. So far, so good. Sounds like fun. After all, Boggle is a blast and it's the same thing only much smaller.

Of course, there is one rule that's a little different from Boggle (other than the letter usage restriction)--you can sit on a letter and use it consecutively, like B-E-E-T with only three letter tlies or V-A-C-U-U-M with five letters. This, too, is acceptable as that could even be seen as just about the only lacking feature of Boggle. After all, a lot of words have double-letters in them and they're almost universally excluded when playing the old classic.

So, I figured, this must be a great game. Boggle is exciting and quick with its 4x4 grid so this will just be "Thinking Person's Boggle" what with its huge 16x16 grid (note that this is the 'deluxe' version--standard Keesdrow features only a 12x12 grid). But I was wrong. 256 letters is just too much to consume. I can look at a Boggle layout and frantically write for the entirity of the sand timer finding lots and lots of nifty little words in there. But in Keesdrow Deluxe, I see so many letters that I wonder where to start. So I end up looking at about a 4x4 section, evaluating good words. And my mental timer runs out (as I hate to inconvenience my fellow players by bogging down the flow of the game). So I settle for whatever I found in that little section, peg out my letters, and do the overly-complex scoring practices to tally my score. Instantly, I look up to other sections of the huge board and see other possibilities. This is truly a case of So Many Options, So Little Time (self-imposed time, though it may be).

But that's a problem. See, the rules make it sound like the sand timer was only thrown in as an afterthought; just in case Uncle Joe is ridiculously slow. Well, let me tell you, even people who want to play every game rapid-fire will be hard-pressed to keep this game moving along smartly without instituting the timer. But that, too, is a problem. The timer is 2-minutes long. In a four-player game, once you use up the 2-minutes, state your word, peg it out, and tally the score, it's a good ten minutes between your turns. I'm afraid that's just not going to cut it--too much downtime. And that's a shame, because I really like the concept.

There are a few options to save this game, however. One would be to reduce the board size down to standard sized Keesdrow. To do so, I guess I'd need to cut out a couple of thick cardboard strips to insert in the recessed gameboard so that the 12x12 tile grid would fit snuggly. Better yet, I could customize down to 10x10 or whatever seems to work best. Another option is to use a variant playing mode mentioned in the rules whereby each player gets a full 2-minutes to make as many words as they can. Of course, this turns it into sequential Boggle, with each player trying to make as many words as possible in a hurry, but with the fiddly pegging/scoring concept, the ability to have someone run away with the game is mitigated somewhat, as simply pegging and scoring takes considerable time. Even if you could see 50 words in two minutes, you'd find it difficult to get more than a half-dozen locked in (those tiny pegs are not easy to place accurately, and as you reuse letters, you keep pulling out the peg you just put in and replacing it with the next 'higher' colored peg). Finally, I guess you could do either of the above options and use a different-length timer, like maybe one minute. Maybe even the full 16x16 Keesdrow Deluxe board wouldn't be too painful with a one-minute (or less) timer.

So, to sum it up, I had high hopes for this game and, since I paid over $25 for it, I'll try to make it work. But a game should work out of the box and, sadly, this one comes up short.
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J
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Trying on your new Grognads hat, Randy?
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Randy Cox
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Yeah. I figured I could play around here. After all, I don't expect Keesdrow gets much traffic.

That said, I'd like to think that this is at least readable, something I can't say for grognads writing.
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Yeah, it's definitely readable. Just a lot more colourful than your usual stuff.

Y'know, if you manage to filter out all of the colours (and lately, the random extra words he seems to throw in), Grognads is surprisingly lucid sometimes. Actually, one time I got a GeekMail from him that was completely normal-looking. That was a shocker.
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Now they have a demonstration video on Pywacket Games' site.

The game inventors pronounce it the other way, Rhymes with flow.
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Randy Cox
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Frizzyhaired Chemist wrote:
Now they have a demonstration video on Pywacket Games' site.

The game inventors pronounce it the other way, Rhymes with flow.

Are they British or something? Can't they speak plain English? :)
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Worse -- they're Minnesotans!
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