Fast4Words Review
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Players: 2 (ages 6+)
Playing Time: under 10 minutes

I’ve always been a fan of word search puzzles—the ones with a big grid of letters and a long list of hidden words. They’re a nice, relaxing way to pass the time on a lazy afternoon. But Fast4Words takes that relaxing, easy-going pastime and turns it into a fast-paced head-to-head race against the clock. It’s a word search, a strategy game, and a speed game—all mixed up in one fun and frantic package.

Each player starts the game with a set of letter cubes, a score sheet (though I found that a plain old piece of paper and a pen works just as well, if not better), and four minutes on his or her timer.

To begin, players take turns placing letter cubes on the letter grid between them. When it’s your turn to place a cube, your timer will count down the seconds. As soon as you place your cube, you tap your play button, which stops your timer and starts your opponent’s.

Once the grid has been filled, the next stage of the game begins. As both timers count down, you and your opponent race to find the most words on your side of the grid. They can be two, three, or four letters long—and they can be in any direction. As soon as you’ve found as many words as possible, tap your play button again to stop your timer.

When both players have finished, you add up your score—one point for each letter in each completed word, plus bonus points for any remaining time on your timer. The player with the most points wins.

Fast4Words is a fast-paced mix of word games like Boggle and one-on-one challenges like Connect Four. The two stages of play make the game both strategic and skill-based—and the timer will keep you on your toes.

In the beginning, as you’re placing the letter cubes, you’ll have to plan ahead, so you’ll have as much time as possible to write down your words later. But you’ll often have to adapt quickly, too—because you never know when your opponent will place a cube that blocks your next move. You have to plan your words, but you also have to think strategically.

Once you move into the second stage of the game, you’re on your own. You’re free to scribble down as many words as you can find—no matter how short or long they may be. But you’ll still have to move quickly—because the clock is ticking. You’ll still want to consider your strategy, too—because if you leave time on the clock, you’ll be able to add bonus points to your final score.

Of course, older players will most likely have an advantage—but you can even things up a bit more by adjusting your timer. If you’re playing with younger kids, I recommend evening things up a bit by setting your timer to three minutes instead of four.

That flexibility, along with the various strategies—and the high-speed, word-searching action—make Fast4Words a quick and exciting game for word enthusiasts of all ages. If you enjoy the challenge of a word search—as well as a little bit of friendly competition—you’ll enjoy every frenzied minute.

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