Tetrisk

... All we know is, he's called The Hyperstig.


Mangograms

At work we’ve been playing the game Bananagrams (see also here and here). It’s a word game with lots of tiles with letters on them, similar to Scrabble tiles. I won’t explain the rules here; you can find them with those links.

After playing several games and having fun (yeah, we recommend it), we decided to implement a version to test our adage that “any game can be improved by drafting”. Drafting is a concept that comes to us from Magic: the Gathering – a card game in which a common competition format is to build your deck of cards by “drafting” them. Drafting involves getting a set of cards, choosing the one you want, passing the rest on to the next player, and repeating the process until you have enough cards to play the game. So at each step you get some choice of the “best” card to suit your deck, restricted by what other players have already taken from the hands of cards that are going around.

Anyway, we decided to draft from sets of 3 letter tiles, and at each stage replenish the set to 3 tiles by taking a new face-down tile at random from the unused pool before passing it to the next player. At each step of the draft, you then have a collection of letters, which grows by one letter each step. And at each step you must arrange (or rearrange) all the letters you have into words. The restriction is that you must have either 1 or 2 words; they must not intersect like a crossword (so they can’t share letters, unlike in canonical Bananagrams); and to prevent players being knocked out too easily, any single letter is considered a valid word. If at any step you can’t make one or two words, you are out for that round. Last player knocked out wins the round, then play again!

We had even more fun with this than the original game. At one stage one set of three drafting letters being passed around had two Qs in it, plus one random tile from the pool, which severely restricted the choice of whoever got that set at each step. (You can certainly take a Q if you can use it in a word, but it’s better strategy to take more easily usable letters for later in the round.)

So there you go, a half-baked idea which was suggested off the cuff, we tried it, and it turned out to actually be good! Oh, and we dubbed our new game “Mangograms”, to keep with the tropical fruit theme.

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