I'm a sucker for word games. Modesty aside, I'm also pretty good at them, which is why I rarely get to play themó except for the occasional game of Scrabble via the Internet Scrabble Moo, none of my friends will take me on. When lighter word games like Pick Two come along which lend themselves to non-competitive play, it's an unexpected delight to be able to pull my friends into a game. Word/card games often fall into this category, such as Intersect 90 from Family Games.
Most of the 90 card deck consists of cards with a single letter (and point value) on them. Ten cards have two letters, ten have three letters, and one card has four (S-E-C-T). Players start with eight cards and must in turn play cards to form a word, replenishing their hand to eight. After the first turn, each word must incorporate one of the cards from the previous word. All of the unused cards from the previous word are then picked up by the player who played themó they'll be scored at the end of the game.
In this manner, there is always exactly one word on the table at any given time. Play continues until the deck is exhausted, at which point players total the values on their claimed cards to determine a winner.
The cards in Intersect 90 are flimsy and not very attractive, but at least some thought went into their layout. Depending on which way you hold the cards, the multi-lettered cards read left to right or top to bottom, allowing you to fan your hand in several different ways.
The game doesn't allow for much in the way of strategic play, as the only real strategic decisionó which card from the board to build onó is obvious. Since your opponent scores all the cards you don't use, you always want to try to use the most valuable card on the table (unless you can use a different card to create an 8+ letter word or use all the cards from your hand at once, in which case you get to score the entire word and play again).
The biggest problem with Intersect 90 is that it takes more time than a game like this should. The reason is that since your word depends on whatever gets played before you, you can't really plan your move during your opponents' turns. You can come up with possibilities ("If there's an F, I can make FOOLISH") but if the letters you're hoping for don't get played, you find yourself falling back to regroup. Because the set of possible words for any given turn is finite, there's a tendency to search for the optimal play. Our turns wound up dragging on as players struggled to find it. Hardly a fatal flaw, as a timer solves the problem nicely, but something to watch out for.
The selling point for Intersect 90 is its simplicity. Some word games can be intimidating, but this bite-sized game is less complex than Rummy and can be safely trotted out for play with mom and grandpa. Not something to base an evening around, but a fine time-passer.