Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Bill Eberle, Greg Olotka, Peter Olotka

Heidelbär Games

No. of Players:



G@mebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

When I was still a young boy, we often played Scrabble with the whole family. Seven drawn letter-tiles to form a new word on a plain, uninspiring gameboard. Admittedly, I was not what would you call an enthusiast of the game. Words with more and rare letters were more valuable than short words. And then there were those boosting fields, saying that the letter or the word would count twice or thrice. Scrabble games usually were accompanied by a lot of down-time while looking for new words with your poor choice of letters (often missing all the necessary vocals). Later we also played Letra-Mix, a variant that came with a sand-timer that reduced the down-time. But still you had nothing to do during the other players' turns.

That's why I hesitated when HEIDELBÄR GAMES offered Wordsmith to me. Another Scrabble variant whose thematic is to find words? But something seemed to be different. I could not find any letters. Only a lot of plastic pieces in four different colours and a die, a paper and a die for every player. This didn’t seem to be the traditional way of finding words. My interest was aroused, and I agreed to have a closer look and review the game.


Click on image to enlarge!

Indeed, it's not only our task to find words, we have to find the matching letters first. Well, find is not exactly the right word, we have to compose the letters with the plastic pieces. But we are not free in this, there is only one way to build each letter of the alphabet. The allowed compositions are given on each side of box bottom which is placed in the middle of the table, one side facing each player. An "A" for example is composed of two red and a yellow game piece.

So, what we need are those plastic letter pieces, right? Let's see how we get them: at set-up all letter pieces are placed in the bottom of the gamebox that already stands in the middle of the table, each colour in a separate part. Then the four dice are rolled twice, and all player take the rolled letter pieces. Four colours and six-sided dice? Well, two sides of the dice are wilds that enable the players to take any colour.

Prepared with our eight letter pieces, and the returned personal die, the game can start. Then, at a command, all players simultaneously look for words with their choice of letter pieces. If a player finds a word, she or he shouts out the word, other players check, if nothing was wrong, and then the player writes the word onto her or his paper. Each letter of the word is a victory point at the final scoring, but beware: all letter pieces that were leftover for building the word go back to the box. The game continues with the remaining letter pieces that can be used for the same letters or for new ones. Of course you cannot use the same word another time, but you can use part of it.

Of course it would be wrong to think that throwing away unused letter pieces would be without a fine: six thrown-away pieces are OK, but after that, every other unused letter piece reduce the total victory points of the player by one. And after the 12 thrown away letter piece, you are even only allowed to build new words with all the remaining letter pieces you still have.


Click on image to enlarge!

The aim is to build six words in a round. With the first player shouting out her or his sixth word, the round ends. Now back to the die: Imagine you cannot find any word with your choice of letter pieces, maybe you just need another red letter piece to form the missing A for "Apple". Or imagine you have thrown-away 4 letter pieces with the first word already, leaving you only 5 pieces for five more words... Of course, there must be a way to get new letter pieces. It's just as simple as rolling your die and taking the matching letter piece from the reserve. There is no limit to do so, but remember: all unused letter pieces after finding a word are thrown-away and victory points will be lost.

Just one word, everyone involved all the time and a short real-time game round. That is definitely a great game to overcome my Scrabble trauma of endless down-time. Still it is a modern variant of the all-time classic games. You should like real-time games, and you should also like finding words for playing Wordsmith. I personally liked the concept of the game. The game material, although plastic, looks fine and of high quality (the semitransparent of the letter pieces was a good idea, I think). There are also same variants including a solo game. The only "problem" I have found is that experienced players have a considerable advantage, because they already know the needed letter pieces to form most letters. But this can easily be solved by playing a second, third, twentieth or hundredth round with the same group of people. Ok, hundredth round is exaggerated, but Wordsmith is a fast game and three rounds should be obligatory for every game round. Be sure: you get better fast, and maybe you also can overcome your trauma of the classic concept of finding words....

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Copyright © 2020 Ralf Togler & Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany