October 31, 2013

Dabble

Every November, a group of word fanatics congregate at Mohonk Mountain House for Will Shortzís Wonderful World of Words weekend. On Saturday afternoons, we play word games, and the group that selects what we play tries to find newish word-oriented games, especially from smaller game companies. With the loss of many independent toy stores and even chain stores, such as Toys R Us, it is harder than ever for consumers to find new games, ones that the big box stores wonít carry.

Now that the holidays are nigh, I thought Iíd write a little about the four games we are playing. First up: Dabble, from INI, LLC. The rules to Dabble are so simple that you can be up and playing within a few minutes. You pick 20 tiles with one letter and point value on each. With these tiles, you need to make exactly one 2-, 3-, 4-, and 5- and 6-letter word. If you succeed, itís better to have put the higher scoring tiles in the longer words.

Dabble was invented by a man in his 80s, George Weiss, who is beyond cool:

The board game is not brand new, but the app is, and Iím addicted. There are other apps on my iPad, I think, but I havenít been using them lately. The point values on the tiles make Dabble more versatile than Text Twist and similar anagram games. Once you get proficient at finishing all 5 required words, you can try to garner higher scores and faster times. The app will keep track for you. Want to challenge your friends via the app? No problem. Care to try the game free on Facebook? Why not?

What separates both the board game and the app from the competition is its elegance and simplicity. There are usually elements even in games I love that I would like to change. Dabble is a pure word game, without gimmicks and doodads, one that is easy to play, but difficult to conquer, and even harder to put down.

[Dabble is available directly from INI, or Barnes & Noble stores, Amazon and B&N online. The app is available from the usual sources in all popular formats.]