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

Friday, December 10, 2010

Sightseeing in the WordSquared world

I have posted several previous articles about WordSquared, which is essentially simultaneous multiplayer Scrabble on an infinite grid. The interesting thing about WordSquared is that it can be played in so many different ways. Some players focus on maximizing their score with rack-clearing words that hit lots of bonus squares. Others take a more defensive approach, working to build away from anyone who might try to encircle or entrap them. And then there are those who, amidst everything else that is going on, find the space and time to build some wonderful things. In this post, I'm going to highlight some of my favorite WordSquared creations.

For those who want to navigate to the sights and see whether they are still there, I give the (x,y) coordinates for each location which you may use to locate features in the WordSquared world, as I previously described.

Let's start with this elegant chain of linked diamonds around (1600,-3800).
Note that it is formed almost entirely from two-letter words.

Then there is RON at (1300,2950):

What seems like someone's name has been rapidly covered in word kudzu, like some ancient relic.

What is the biggest designed structure in all of Word2? The hugest one I could find is this pair of parallel lines, stretching across hundreds of 15-by-15 boards like the Great Wall of WordSquared. They are located near y=-320; the longer one stretches from x=-5530 to x=-630 (over 300 Scrabble boards in length), though there are some gaps in there (just like in the Chinese version).

The area below caught my attention because it is unusually spindly. I initially dubbed this area Longwordia until I realized their was a fancier-pants (and more appropriate) name for it: Sesquipedalia.

Since the WordSquared "rack" consists of 7 tiles, obviously not every long word can easily be constructed. Either one must choose a long word that can be formed by starting with a medium length word and extending it as the letters become available, or one must separately form two or more carefully placed words and then link them up to form one superword.

Admittedly, art is not the only motivation for building Sesquipedalia. Making those long words (and, more specifically, making them on top of triple word score squares) must have earned the architect a lot of points.

Once you think through this process, you can better appreciate the challenge of assembling a bunch of interlocking long words like this. An even better example of a construction challenge is this 6-by-6 word square at (-45,-1480):
It's not enough to just accumulate letter and start building words. If you play DIAPERS horizontally and then IGNORE underneath it, you will have made several invalid vertical words (like DI, IG, and PO). I'm close to solving the puzzle of how this square can be made, but solutions are still welcome.

This impressive spiral form at (2300,1200) must have been made from the outside in, winding down, fittingly, with the word SPIRALS.

Above and to the left of the spiral is a huge triangular structure, best appreciated up close: Notice how the words snake around in a pattern that is always one tile wide, while leaving empty space that is also everywhere only one tile wide. A pattern of this scope and complexity makes me wonder whether it is the work of one of the few "bots" that have been programmed to play Word2. Or, possibly, aliens are responsible...

These are just some of the wonders you can find while playing WordSquared. And as the WordSquared world continues to boom, the number of amazing things will grow along with it. Stay tuned!

Further reading:

Monday, December 6, 2010

The new crop of games from the makers of Bananagrams: Zip-It, et al.

First they brought us Bananagrams. Last year they introduced Appletters and Pairs in Pears. This fall, they released so many new items that I feel like I am going to have to make a list:
  1. Zip-It is like an accelerated version of Bananagrams, except instead of tiles, you get twelve letter cubes. And unlike in Boggle, you can turn each of those cubes and use whichever side you want. A typical time for forming those cubes into a grid of words is reported to be about twenty seconds! It sounds super-frenetic, like playing Bananagrams on a roller coaster. Zip-It comes with Weords, a small book containing game-winning weird words.
  2. The 4th Bananagrams book has been released: 10-Minute Bananagrams, in which each puzzle is designed to be solved in 10 minutes or less.
  3. The Bananagrams 2011 Page-a-day Calendar - perfect for your favorite Bananagrams addict.

2014 UPDATE: More recent games from the makers of Bananagrams: Bananagrams WildTiles - a new version of Bananagrams with extra monkey-themed wildcard tiles.

Also available through Amazon are the French version of Bananagrams, for the family Francophile or polyglot, and the German version of Bananagrams.

If that isn't enough Bananagrams fun for you, take a look through the word games and other items I have collected together in the Bananagrammer Amazon store. I've tried to pick things that I thought readers of this blog would like the most.

UPDATE 2: The release of Oh-Spell is apparently not as imminent as I had wishfully thought. But in the meanwhile we have, coming very soon... Fruitominoes, the first non-word-game game from the makers of Bananagrams.