Thursday, February 26, 2009

Words, Letters, & Logic

This is a word game inspired by the mathematical game at the link below:
(But this game should be more fun for the anti-math crowd.)

This game, which is for 2 players, is sort of like a cross between Scrabble and Sudoku. Sort of.

The game is divided into several phases.
In the first phase the players take turns writing letters into the squares of a 4-by-4 grid (or a 5-by-5 grid for more advanced players).
Each letter should appear at most once in the grid.

So, for example, we could have this grid:


Then, in the next phase the players take turns coming up with a list of words associated with each letter of the grid. Let the letter associated with a word be a "grid-letter" (because the letter appears in the grid). A word or phrase (that may be almost nonsense, if no shorter words can be thought of) must contain all of the letters in the squares immediately adjacent (in the directions of above, below, left of, and right of) to the word's grid-letter, but the word need not contain the grid-letter itself.

The list of words, each word written next to its grid-letter, is ordered by the grid-letters in alphabetical order.

So, in my example we can have the list of words (written right of their grid-letters):

A: mocked
B: blighted
C: dark gods (Notice that this is an arbitrary-sounding phrase.)
D: backed
E: mined
G: backpacker
H: pinto bean
I: bean
K: lack
L: sky
M: rake
N: high
P: quag hole (Another arbitrary phrase. A quag is a marshy place.)
Q: pray
R: quagmires
S: clear

For example, the letter A in the grid is next to D, K, and M. And the word "mocked" contains these letters.
(Note: Words with lots of letters are more likely to make the game easier for both players. Words with fewer letters are more likely to make the game harder for both players.)

In the next phase the players each draw their own empty 4-by-4 (or 5-by-5) grid.
Then each player writes any one letter that occurs in the original grid into any square of their OPPONENT'S grid.

Then the original grid of letters is hidden. (So the list of words should be drawn on a different piece of paper than the original grid of letters.)

In the final phase the players try to each fill their own grid, given the letter written in their grid by their opponent, with the same letters that were in the original grid (one letter per square of the grid), never repeating a letter (including the one letter written by the player's opponent in the player's grid), such that all letters adjacent (in the directions of above, below, right of, and left of) to a letter in the grid occur in the word associated with that grid-letter.

Remember that if two letters are adjacent (say, letter 1 and letter 2), then letter 1 must be in letter 2's word AND letter 2 must be in letter 1's word.

The players each try to fill in as many squares as they can under the rules.
Their score is the number of squares they correctly fill in with letters.
(Note: Not all grids can be filled in completely. It depends on where a player's opponent places the first letter in the player's grid.)

If a player makes a mistake (a letter doesn't appear in one of its adjacent letter's words, a letter is written in a player's grid that wasn't in the original grid, or a letter occurs more than once in a player's grid), than that player forfeits.

If neither player forfeits, then the winner is the player who filled in the most number of squares in their own grid.
(Ties possible.)

Back to the example, here is a player's grid with an E put in the lower left square by the player's opponent:
(* is an empty square.)

R * * *

13 points.

(Note: I couldn't put a G in the empty square at position (2,2) because there is no G in "mocked".)

Leroy Quet

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