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"War of the Words", version 1.0

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Joined: 12/31/1969

What do you think? It's word rummy -- with a nasty twist. My friends really like it, and people at the games nights I've shown it at thought it was great. I've been working on this one for a while. It's easy to learn -- but the strategy can be complicated. You need to know how your opponent thinks. Someone suggested it was good enough to start looking for an agent.

The cards have photographs on them for each letter (originally intended for personal use, not for publication -- I figured in the cases where I can't use them for real publication I'd mention the location the photograph was taken at -- free advertising).

I've taken some important sections of the rules and put them in bold. The rules continue after that (word lists, letter distributions, etc.).

This can be expanded very easily (people put their own pictures on for advertising, different alphabets, etc.)
Rules for War of the Words

AGE: 6 to adult
DURATION: 1 hour

70 word cards
110 letter cards
1 rule booklet
1 set of cheat sheets

To score 300 points building words out of letters drawn from the deck.

Shuffle the decks of word and letter cards (separately) and have each player draw a card from the letter deck. The single-letter card closest to A starts (with a blank beating an A) and play proceeds clockwise. The cards drawn to determine the start are then placed in a pile face up (in the order they were drawn) in the center of the table. They serve as the beginning of the discard pile.

Next, remove one card from the letter deck, along with three word cards for each player, and set them aside, face down. These cards are out of the game until the deck they came from is exhausted. When a deck runs out of cards, the card(s) set aside from that deck is/are reintroduced, the deck is reshuffled, and a new group of cards is set aside [this is for the inevitable geek who tracks -- if you track, you'll be able to realize that the card you want is coming up with a high degree of probability: this prevents that (think if there's one letter left in the draw pile and you need to know if you want it...)].

The first player then deals out seven letter cards face up to each player, followed by three word cards face down to each player. Each player’s first task is to spell one of his three words using the letters in front of him. He need not decide which word immediately.

The game is played in a manner very similar to gin rummy. Each player draws the top card from either the draw or discard piles on his turn. If he believes that the letter drawn will help him build one of his words, he places it face up in front of him and places one of his remaining cards face up on top of the discard pile.

Players may examine the contents of the discard pile (as well as the set of words held by players since the word deck was reshuffled) at any time. They may use the supplied tracking sheets to keep track of words and letters which have already been played. If anyone chooses to track, the tracking information may be used by all players.

If a player is able to form one of his three words at any point during his turn, he discards a card to finish his turn, spells out the word with the cards in front of him and reveals that word card to his opponents. He scores the number of points shown on the card and discards all three word cards.

The scoring player then collects the letters used in the word (plus the one he discarded earlier in the play) and hands them to next player. The opponent rearranges them in any way he likes and places them on top of the discard pile. This will allow him to strike back at the scorer by automatically taking one of the scorer’s cards on his next turn (all he has to do is place that card on top of the discard pile).

Finally, the scoring player draws three new word cards and enough letter cards to replenish his seven-card hand.

A player may only score one word during his turn. He need not score the first word he gets (perhaps he is one letter away from another word worth 20 more points and wants to wait!)

There are two blank cards in the deck. These may be used to represent any single letter. Blanks may NOT be redrawn from the top of the discard pile.

There are seven kinds of special action cards: REVERSE, RESHUFFLE, RAISE THE DEAD, SEALED FATE, WORD EXCHANGE, GO FISH, and SWAP[these are there to increase strategy and prevent deadlocks that tend to occur in gin rummy]. A player invokes an action at the end of his turn by discarding the card. Special action cards may be placed up in front of the player (taking the position of a letter) until needed, and they may not be redrawn from the discard pile by the next player after they are used.

REVERSE immediately reverses the order of play from counterclockwise to clockwise or vice versa. This card allows a player to take an extra turn in a two-player game. [Taken directly from Uno. Note that Reverse is important if you have a card you want to discard -- and one of your opponents needs it to finish his word]

SWAP allows a player to swap any of his cards with one of his opponent’s – even if the opponent doesn’t want to make the trade. Note that if the swapping player chooses to take a blank or a special action card, the player owning that card may choose a card from the swapping player [this is the biggest deadlock breaker -- you can't take blanks unilaterally because it would take it too powerful].

RESHUFFLE allows a player to take the discard pile, reshuffle it, and place the reshuffled pile back on top of the draw pile. The RESHUFFLE card is discarded to create a new discard pile.

RAISE THE DEAD allows a player to replay cards from the discard pile. He shuffles the discard pile face down and draws ten cards from it. He must choose a letter card from these ten, add it to his hand, and discard one of his seven other cards. The two cards involved in the exchange must be different: he cannot replace an E with another E. After the exchange is made, the reshuffled discard pile is flipped face up, the RAISE THE DEAD card is placed on top, and the game continues. Note that Raise the Dead may not be performed unless there are 20 or more cards in the discard pile [translation: if you've got a card you want in the first 10 cards, you automatically pick it up if you play it early -- this prevents that. Odds of picking up any individual card cannot exceed 50%].

WORD EXCHANGE allows a player to swap ONE of his word cards with the word at the top of the word deck. If he doesn’t like his new word, too bad. The player’s old word card is discarded.

GO FISH allows a player to discard as many cards as he wants from his hand and replace them with cards from the draw pile. The discarded cards are placed added to the discard pile and the GO FISH card is placed on top of them. Go Fish may not be performed unless the number of cards left in the draw pile (INCLUDING the card set aside when the deck was shuffled) is greater than or equal to twice the number of cards to be drawn. [Taken directly from Munchkin's "Deck of Too Many Things"]

SEALED FATE [Munchkin's "Find a Map"] allows the player to draw one letter card for each player, look at them, and put them back on the draw pile in any order he sees fit (face down, of course). Sealed Fate may not be performed unless the number of cards left in the draw pile (INCLUDING the card set aside when the deck was shuffled) is greater than or equal to twice the number of players. It may also not be performed once one player has scored 300 or more points.

Note that a player may discard a special action card and choose not to perform the action.

The game ends once a player has reached 300 points and all of his opponents have taken at least one additional turn after that point. Note that if two players exceed 300 points simultaneously (quite reasonable if there is a SWAP in the endgame), the player with the highest score wins.

The strategy for this turns out to be EXTREMELY complex. If the guy next to you has QEEN (QUEEN is a possible word), you can hog U's -- but in doing so you effectively wind up playing with a 6- or 5- card hand (so blocking your opponent screws you over too). Then again, he may just be picking up QEEN to make you THINK he has QUEEN and burden yourself with U's. You can goad someone into dropping his Reverse by playing a Reverse of your own if you like the current turn order. Stuff like that.

Words score from 35 points (AIL) to 152 (FUZZY -- extremely difficult because you need at LEAST one blank)

What do you think?


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