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Play on Words Game Review by Kelly BurgessThe Word Building, Word Changing Card Game
9613 Palmer Road
Minneapolis, MN 55437
Play On Words is a unique and challenging card game for one to four players that is recommended for ages eight and up. It can be purchased for $13.99. At first, I told myself that it was going to be much like playing Scrabble but with cards instead of a game board and tiles. But once we started playing, I realized it’s so much more challenging than that! Not only do you build and play words using letter cards, but you also change words that other players have already played, which allows you to steal the word for yourself! With so much rearranging going on, no one’s plays are safe!
There are actually three versions of play to choose from. There’s a solitaire version for a single player, but the fun really begins when you add more players. For two or more players, you can play the “starter” version or the “full deck” version.
In the solitaire version, you play like the starter version, but you only win the game with yourself if you end up using all of the cards in the piles with none leftover.
In the starter version, which we really enjoyed, you only use a small portion of the deck. You make eight piles of five cards each in the center of the table for two players, six cards each for three players, or seven cards each for four players. Player one turns over the top card of each pile and attempts to spell a word of two or more letters from the available cards. Once this player has formed a word, they set it down on the table in front of them. In this starter version, there is no scoring until the end of the game. Player two turns up new cards on the piles that have been used and repeats the process, only they can also use available cards to add on and/or rearrange on another player’s word, in which case they can steal the word and make it their own. Play continues in this manner until no more plays or add-ons can be made, and then the winner is whichever player has the most letters in their words. Each round of this game is completed pretty quickly, and we found it totally addicting to keep playing more rounds! We tried it with both two and three players, and we all enjoyed it very much.
In the full deck version, each player receives eight cards face down, and the remaining cards go to the center of the table face down as a draw pile. Player one has to construct a word of at least three letters from their hand. In this version of the game, points are tallied with each play at a rate of two points per letter in the word. Then this player draws new cards from the draw pile until they again have eight cards. Player two then can either create a new word from their own hand, play any of their cards into an existing word from another player and steal it (and if they rearrange to make a new word, they get two points per letter instead of one), both of these plays, or if unable to play or add on, they can discard any desired number of cards and replace them with new cards from the draw pile. In the case of discarding, the turn is ended with no points scored. Play continues in this fashion until the deck is depleted and no words can be played or added on. Any cards remaining in a player’s hand count as a one-point deduction per letter. The player with the highest game score wins. An official match is two games. If tied after two games, players break the tie by playing a starter version of the game to determine a winner of the match.
This game really gets your brain working! Even if you play when you’re tired, before long, you’ll be wide awake! It’s such a fun and stimulating word game. I really had fun playing this with my nineteen- and fourteen-year old kids. We really enjoyed the starter version because we could play even when we didn’t have a lot of time. With everyone’s varying schedules of work and school among the adults and kids in the house, it can be hard to arrange a mutual time for games, so this card game was a great way to relax and de-stress at the end of the day when we only had a short window of time together. I highly recommend it! And if you really want to heat things up, you can use the wild cards and flip cards to spice it up. There is also a bonus turn for a player who uses all eight available cards in one turn! With so many variations to game play, you’re sure to find a fun way to play with your family members.
-Product review by Kelly Burgess, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, September, 2018