I love word games, and I'm always looking for good ones.
There's a bit of trouble in our house over that, though, because my husband isn't a words person. (Insert the mom on Raising Hope here for the full effect. That line is classic in our house.)
Even though he's not a words person, he likes word games. But they have to be the right ones.
Wordariffic sounded fun. It's sort of Apples to Apples meets Quiddler (think Scrabble with cards instead of a board). But it was not that game. You'll have to decide if it might be right for you.
Wordariffic is a party game for three to nine players ages 12 and up that takes about a half-hour. It’s designed by Jeff Siadek and published by Gorilla Games. You can buy it on the company’s website.
In Wordariffic, players have cards with letters that they use to build words a judge will like.
How it works
Each player draws 11 cards, which have a letter in the upper right corner.
At the beginning of each round, one player rolls a 10-sided die, which corresponds to a list of words on the starting card. Words range from “tune” to “elusive” to “asterisk.” The word chosen is called the key word.
Players use their cards to try to build a word that relates to the key word.
The player or players with the longest word will get a poker chip automatically.
The last player to come up with a word becomes the judge. She won’t score points that round. Instead, she’ll decide which player’s word relates most closely to the key word and thus receives three chips.
Players redraw up to 11 cards. Play continues until all 30 chips are gone.
The game includes a method to keep the judge from playing favorites.
And if someone hates the cards in their hand — all vowels, for instance — they can discard any number of cards and sit that round out.
Why you might like Wordariffic
Wordariffic is a different take on Apples to Apples (or Cards Against Humanity, if you prefer). Speed matters a lot.
If you have an evenly matched group, the game can be challenging and fun.
There’s a ton of variety in the key words, and commonly used letters are abundant. You won’t be stuck with a handful of Q’s, though you might have more E’s than you want.
This is a game that people who are great with words and are quick-thinking may like a lot.
Why you might not like Wordariffic
If you have a slow player, that person will be stuck either discarding or being the judge every round. They won’t get any points that way. It’s a party game, so points aren’t all that important, but it can still be frustrating.
Likewise, if someone is quick and can build long words, they might win while never relating the words to the key word.
I don’t like to compare games, but this one begs some comparisons. Part of what makes Apples to Apples a fun party game is trying to think like the judge. But in Wordariffic, you don’t know who the judge is while you’re making your word.
What makes Quiddler great is that you’re just trying to build the longest word you can while maximizing points on your cards. You don’t have a time limit (though you might wish some players did).
Wordariffic leaves out those elements.
It can be really funny if someone can build a word that relates well to “Otter,” for instance. But most of the time you won’t have the cards in your hand to come up with something clever.
More than other games, this will take a crowd that has even footing. They need to love words, have a decent vocabulary, and be able to spell.
I love word games, but this one was a problem for the group I played with. We all left the game feeling like it took two good ideas, but didn’t blend them quite well enough.
The method for choosing the judge each round seemed to be the biggest problem. For a slow group, or just one that’s not evenly matched, changing the judge each round would probably work better than having the slowest player being stuck as judge. That would allow players time to rearrange their cards and come up with something better related to the key word.
One player suggested giving a chip for the first word to encourage speed, but without punishing slower players.
I’d like to try it with some rule changes and see what happens, but for me, playing this straight out of the box led to frustration for nearly everyone at the table.
Other reviewers' opinions
Game Boy Geek Dan King said, "It was much better than I thought it would be." He liked the speed element. He liked that the slowest player was judge, but didn't like the open scoring. He praised that the game was family-friendly and easy to teach.
Zee Garcia said the game is "extremely ugly." He said the game itself "is pretty good." He's not a fan of word games but liked that it was quick and offered some laughs. Some of the folks he played with didn't like the judging, but he thought that was against the spirit of the game. I agree.
Yes, and I think that's an area where Wordariffic might shine. Once your kids are reading somewhat proficiently, they'll be able to play — and play as well as the adults at the table.
What my husband wants to do to the game
Andrew would want to rotate judges. And he found the speed element too difficult. (He would crush at a game where you do math in your head.
I got a review copy of Wordariffic from Gorilla Games. I wasn’t required to write a positive review, and I wouldn't have taken the game if I were. Much of this review appeared at News for Shoppers, where I first wrote it.