Publisher: Out of the Box Publishing
Designer: Jack Degnan
Genre: Word spelling party game
Players: Two to eight (or more!) players
Playing time: 20-30 minutes
As I previously pointed out in my review of Say Anything, I’m not really the biggest fan of party games. Oh, sure, there are some that I really dig; I love Wits & Wagers and you may have already read I enjoyed Say Anything for the most part but a great many party games just leave me absolutely bored. If there were more party games like the two I’ve just mentioned and Word on the Street, which I’m about to review, I think my overall feelings about the genre would completely turn around.
Word on the Street is a great party game and an exceptional word game. Regardless if you adore word games or if you wouldn’t cross the street to play one, here is a release that should be occupying a spot on your gaming shelf. Teaching the game takes no more than five minutes and it plays pretty quickly without much downtime for the players.
So let’s see what’s under the hood of this tug-of-words.
Opening the box you’ll find a nicely presented game board, a sand timer, tiles containing the letters, the category cards in a plastic holder, and the rule book. I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the components. I thought for sure the letter tiles would be thick cardboard but they turn out to be a good hefty plastic (almost with a feel of being ceramic) that will hold up to loads and loads of use. The rules are easy to follow and you can breeze through them in minutes.
Simply enough players break up into two teams with the game board between them. The board is in the design of a street including a column of letters, running down the center, containing most of the consonants in the alphabet. Play alternates between the teams as one side draws a card, reads the category (an example would be “Something a Player Did Today”) and then flips over the included timer. The other team then proceeds to think of a word and then spell that word aloud. As they do they’ll move each letter once space toward their side of the street – the board of course. Vowels, as well as some consonants, don’t appear on the board so if the answer to the previous mentioned category were “shower” then the S, H, W and R would move once space toward that team’s side. If a tile is moved off the board that team captures the letter and it’s no longer in play. The first team to capture eight tiles wins the game.
A wonderful aspect of the design is the tug-of-war that ensues because when the other team takes their turn they might opt to think of a word that will bring letters back over to their side of the street or instead think of a word that has enough letters to capture different tiles. There’s really a bit of strategy that comes into play and that’s not a term used very often when you talk about party games.
I find it interesting that you’re not just looking to come up with any word to fit the category nor trying to come up with the longest word. A winning strategy is finding the word with the most consonants still available on the board. Obviously words that contain multiple instances of the same letter are a bonus as well.
There are a few issues that do arise with Word on the Street. First off spelling is a must! If you misspell a word you’ll end up wasting your turn because any time you don’t get it right you’ll lose the letters you’ve just moved as you come up empty. You’ll also find that some people just won’t be quick witted enough to come up with a word, spell it and then move the associated tiles before the timer runs out. This can lead to frustration for some players as they feel a bit dense compared to other players. It’s just a fact of life that you’ll have players who will smoke the opposition nearly every time out.
If you’re a fan of word games, Word on the Street is a no brainer purchase – you’ll really enjoy the back and forth and just because it’s advertised as a party game keep in mind it plays just as well with two players. If many word games leave you yawning you still might want to give a look because you’ll find this title is quite a bit different than anything else out there on the store shelves.
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