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Subject: Yo Dawg, It's "Word on the Street" - A Bits of Boardgames Review rss

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David Montgomery
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Original post with pictures at my blog -

Word on the Street (The Hilarious Tug of Words)
Designed by Jack Degnan
Published by Out of the Box Publishing
Players 2-8 players divided into 2 teams.
Plays in around 20-30 minutes.

As the name suggests, this is a word game. Yes, you would have been shocked if this had to do with math. Players divide into teams of their choosing, and the game gets going. The goal is to move letter tiles to your side of the board, and be the first team to collect 8 letters.

Word on the Street has a very nice tri-fold board, hefty letter tiles, an awesome card holder, good quality cards, and a fairly good timer. The components aren't over the top awe inspiring, but they do look good. The tiles aren't going to blow away or slide easily, so that's a good thing for playing outdoors. The artwork on the letters is various roadsigns, which fits the theme nicely.

When it's your team's turn, a card is flipped with a category. It could be something as general as "a color" or "a type of fruit" or something a little more difficult such as "a country in Africa." All the categories are fairly easy, at least to the point that you can come up with an answer. Once the card is flipped, your team has 30 seconds to come up with a word, and spell it. As you spell the word, you move each letter tile (there are no vowels, and the rare consonants, J,Q,X,Z, have been removed) towards your side one spot. If you move a letter off the board, your team captures that tile and it can't be moved back onto the board. There are various rules for challenging spelling and so forth, but I won't go into those.

Since Word on the Street is designed as a social game, there is a fair bit of interaction. You have to work with your teammates to come up with a good word. Also, you have to evaluate the state of the tiles and figure out what you want to move closer to you and away from the other team. You won't be able to stop them from scoring forever, but delaying them a turn or two can give you the advantage.

There is a road/street theme here. The tiles do have the roadsigns as mentioned previously. I don't feel like it needed that theme to be successful, but I don't think that it hurts. The theme is light, but it's there.

Learning Curve
This is a very short learning curve. I'd say 30 seconds to teach, about 2 minutes to learn from a rulebook. Players can easily get into coming up with a word to fit the category, and they'll learn how to come up with words that better reflect the state of the board as they play.

Why I like Word on the Street
Any game I can get both of my parents to play is a winner in my book. We were able to sit down and have a fun time playing this the day I bought it. It's really easy to teach and quick to play. On top of that, it makes you think, but it doesn't feel like a classroom.

Why I don't like Word on the Street
Sometimes the timer feels way to short, and thus you feel rushed. This can lead to a negative play experience.

There are a lot of different categories in the game, and by the time I get through them all, I'll be able to play and not really remember what was played earlier. I'd say there's a lot of replayability here. If you have the same group, just change up the teams. With 4 people, there are 3 different team combinations.

Will you like it?
If you're a fan of word games such as Scabble or Boggle, Word on the Street is a nice variation on those. The team aspect makes things more fun, and it's great for all ages.

I give Word on the Street 1 Thumb Up out of a possible 2. I like the game, I think it's a good word game. There's a lot of thought and some laughing, which is always a good thing. I can see playing this with just about anyone. The downside, there isn't much strategy to the game, so it doesn't appeal to more serious gamers. A lot depends on your vocabulary knowledge, and that can become a problem over repeated plays.

House Rules
In an effort to reduce the frustration of time, we decided to say if your team had started spelling the word before time ran out, you were fine. This gives people a little more time to think, and it means the odds of the board getting messed up in a mad dash goes down considerably. Afterall, it is about having fun, so play in a way that everyone has fun.
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