Word game lovers, attention please. Calliope Games has taken two of America's favorite past times, Sudoku and crossword puzzles, and combined them into a fun, innovative new game. In Wordoku, one to six players create words and earn points using customizable letters.
At the heart of Wordoku is a set of beautiful, square wooden pieces with symbols on one side (star, clover, circle and square) and letters on the other. Players build a four by four grid using the symbol sides, which do not allow them to see which letters they are starting with.
One player starts a five-minute timer and all players flip over their tiles to see what letters they have to work with. Each player attempts to create two to four letter words in each row and column of their four by four grid. But these grids can be customized by exchanging tiles. This is where Wordoku shines because anyone who has played a word game knows that being able to change even a single letter can be exciting.
To exchange letter tiles, players have two options. First, a letter can be exchanged for another random letter from a bag full of extra letter tiles. With a little luck this can be helpful. A second option allows a player to flip over a tile, showing its symbol, and use it as a wild. The only restriction is that players may only exchange and flip over one tile of each symbol.
When the timer expires, players calculate points. Each letter of a word is one point unless the letter was a wild. Wilds are worth nothing. But if a word is in a row or column with one of each symbol, the points are doubled!
Play continues for three rounds and players build a brand new grid after each round. Points are not cumulative; players earn awards for highest score for each round and improving their score from the previous round so the winner is the player with the most awards after three rounds. Wordoku is more challenging than you might think, and the timer and customization aspects create a tense feeling as time runs out.
The components in Wordoku are excellent. There are tons of custom wooden tiles that look great on the table top and are fun to manipulate and customize as gamers play the game. The tile bag is of fine quality created with durable, smooth material that holds all of the letter tiles. A score pad is included to keep track of points. There are also extra tiles to add a fifth symbol, thereby allowing players to build giant five by five grids.
Be aware that players will need to have access to a timer either from another game or on a digital device. There are a number of timers available on the market. A dictionary app may also be used to help players agree on what words are legal to use. Wordoku: Fun Spelled Out can be purchased at Barnes and Noble, and more information is available at boardgamegeek.com.