January 16, 2015

Word Dominoes

Imagine a word game without letters, one that requires all the verbal dexterity you can muster. Word Dominoes is that game.

Game play couldn't be simpler. Each domino contains 2 images. One player places two images next to each other, and all players try to come up with a word, title, name, or phrase suggested by the two.

For example, I just pulled two dominoes at random. One was the kind of stick figure drawing of a male used to denote a restroom at public places; the second was of a cow. The turn player (who placed those two dominoes together) might write down "cowboy" to describe these two images. The next person might have written down "cattleman," the next "milkman,"the next, "animal," and the fifth, cowboy."

When it's your turn, you score points by matching as many other players as possible, without matching everyone (in which case you are penalized). If only one other player matches the turn players he or she gets a bonus. In our hypothetical example, the turn player gets one point for every match -- in this case, one. The last player, who matched, scores two rather than one point because she was the only person to match the turn player.

The gameplay is simple but in practice it's a challenging task, especially for the literal-minded. While watching folks play at Words Weekend, some folks were so literal that they would only see "cowboy" for this combination, while others might think of movie and song titles. If we have any criticism of the game, it's a weird target to try to match all but one other player, as the scoring encourages coming up with duller answers than necessary. We prefer the game play of Proclaim, where the highest score is achieved by matching exactly one other player. When we tried switching our house rules, we enjoyed it more.

Word Dominoes is beautifully packaged with a small footprint and sturdy dominoes, and the graphics are appealingly retro-classic. Word Dominoes is a new game, invented by Forrest-Pruzan Creative and distributed by Chronicle Books. It is already a big seller on Amazon, and it deserves to be.