A blog for fans of Bananagrams, word games, puzzles, and amazing things

Thursday, April 30, 2009

How else to play Bananagrams

Playing with the sort of people that memorize lists of Scrabble-legal two-letter combinations (there really ought to be a name for these people... Scrabble obsessives? Scrabble maniacs?) can be difficult for the non-memorizers. One variation that eliminates this particular advantage is the no-two-letter-words rule. Of course, since two-letter word formation is often the fastest way of adding a new letter to the grid or reconfiguring a grid, eliminating two-letter words can slow down the game. It's also surprisingly challenging. When playing against beginners, I sometimes self-handicap by not allowing myself to use two-letter words.

Must-contain-an-N-letter-word is also an interesting change of pace. Variations that slow the game down may not be ideal for games of two or four players, but when you get up to six or more players, it seems that winning depends a lot more on what set of letters you get (and what order you get them in). An additional rule to balance things out may be a useful thing to have on hand.

My favorite variation on a variation is no-two-letter-nouns. This eliminates most of the letter-combinations that nobody but the memorizers have heard of, while allowing the game flow permitted by common two-letter words. (I would exclude from the exclusion two-letter pronouns. Because I like HE, IT, and ME.)

But I have some crazier ideas for variations which I intend to try out. Stay tuned...

Monday, April 27, 2009

Rearranging Bananagrams

BANANAGRAMS can be anagrammed into a lot of phrases. My favorite is the headline-like sentence "Agar Nabs Man".

But the most disturbing is not an anagram at all. Just add a space, and you get "Ban anagrams!"! Banning anagrams would be the position of the bad banana (with the greasy black peel).

Bananagrams for the iPhone is coming soon

UPDATE: The Bananagrams game for the iPhone is now available! See this post for details.

One complaint my friends have had about the online version of Bananagrams is that the interface differs from real life play.

For those people I have good news:
According to the Bananagrams Twitter stream, there is a version of Bananagrams coming for the iPhone.

UPDATE: Here is a more recent post with a little more information on what the iPhone app will look like.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Why Bananagrams is not Speed Scrabble

  • Bananagrams tiles are of a nice, smooth plastic (purportedly, bakelite) -- easy to slide around the table -- and lack the hard corners of those hazardous Scrabble tiles.
  • Speed Scrabble's letter distribution and number of tiles (100) was designed for Slow Scrabble (played on a board, with players taking turns... you may have heard of it). Bananagrams has 144 tiles and a clearly different distribution (which might have been optimized for Bananagrams). With more tiles, it can be played with more people.
  • Consequently, Speed Scrabble players start with only seven tiles, which means that your initial grid will be at most a few words. In contrast, Bananagrams players can start with up to twenty-one letters, breaking the game into two distinct phases: 1) building of an initial grid, with lots of latitude as to how one builds this foundation, 2) the PEELing phase, in which one is constantly interrupted by the grabbing of letters, and the focus of which is more reconfiguring the grid.
  • Speed Scrabble lacks the DUMP rule, meaning that if you wind up with a bad letter distribution wile playing Speed Scrabble, there is nothing you can do.
  • Bananagrams comes in a handy fabric banana. It is the Hitchhiker's game choice. It fits in your purse or backpack. Some people keep a set in their car for emergency Bananagrams sessions.
  • Bananagrams is cheaper. Compare prices at Amazon and see for yourself: Scrabble vs. Bananagrams