Nerdy Wordy Review
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Players: 2 (ages 8+)
Playing Time: About 30 minutes

Since I’m a writer, it’s only natural that I’m a bit of a word nerd. I always loved spelling tests as a kid—and I’ve been known to play Boggle by myself. So a game like Nerdy Wordy is right up my word-loving alley.

Nerdy Wordy looks like a mix between Boggle and Battleship. Each player gets a tray (like the trays in Battleship—only smaller) that contains 25 letter cubes (making it look a lot like a Boggle tray—with 25 spaces instead of 16). There are five cubes with the letters A-F, five with G-L, five with M-R, five with S-X, two with Y and Z, and two blank cubes, which allow you to choose your own letter.

Players start with an empty tray. One player begins by choosing a letter, which both players must then place somewhere in their trays. Players then take turns choosing letters—and using those letters to form words (across or down—but not up, backwards, diagonally, or around corners)—until all the cubes have been used and the players’ trays are full.

Once game play has ended, players add up their score: 10 points for a two-letter word, 15 points for a three-letter word, 20 points for a four-letter word, and 25 points for a five-letter word. The trick is to try to find words that have smaller words hidden inside them (for instance, the word BEARS also contains the words BEAR, EAR, and EARS). And if you can get a ring of connected five-letter words around the outside edge of your tray, you get an extra 100-point bonus. The player with the most points is the winner.

Nerdy Wordy is much more challenging than you might expect. Not only do you have to come up with good five-letter words that contain a few extra words inside them—but you have to do so while your opponent keeps making you use letters that don’t fit into your plans. As you continue to play, you’ll find yourself trying to come up with words using letters on the lesser-used cubes (the Y cube and the G cube)—or trying new strategies to see if you can get even more points. The only problem is that once you find the best words, it’s tempting to try to use the same ones over and over.

For adults, Nerdy Wordy is a quick and easy—yet challenging—game to pick up from time to time, though it probably won’t be an everyday favorite (except for the biggest word nerds). But if you’re the parent of a word nerd kid—or one who needs a little help with words—this is a great game to play together. It’s easy to understand—and it’s fun enough to trick kids into enjoying something educational. It’s also compact enough to fit in a carryon or a backpack—so it’s perfect for bringing along on family vacations.

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