Cost:$27.00 plus shipping From: WRDZ, Inc., 4439 Thoroughbred Dr., Roswell GA, 30075 Players: 2-4 Playing Time: 30-60 minutes Type of game: Word Complexity: 5 Skill level: 8 Reviewed by: Peter Sarrett, Issue 1.3, Feb./March 1993 NOTE: This game is now out of print.
Language has been around for millenia, and word games aren't much younger. In all that time, you'd think the well of ideas would be pretty much tapped out. Yet I'm constantly amazed at the relatively steady flow of quality word games to come down the pike. Although WRDZ borrows a little from Scrabble and its ilk, it is unique enough to stand apart from the pack.
The letter tiles and game board are made of high-quality heavy plastic, and WRDZ thoughfully includes a cloth bag for the tiles. You only get one tile per turn in WRDZ. You must either play it within about 60 seconds or spend your turn exchanging it with another from the bag. The object is to collect points by forming WRDZ-- simplicity itself, since WRDZ are just a group of letters which form part of a word. For a WRD to be legal, you must be able to insert some combination of letters in front of it, behind it, and/or within it to form an actual word. STC is a fine example of a WRD: it could represent STiCk, oSTriCh, SpasTiC, or any number of other words.
The plastic board is criss-crossed with ridges along which tiles can slide. You're allowed to insert a tile in front of or behind another tile and slide the displaced tile (and all tiles on the other side of it) one space. Since you earn points for every WRD you form, these types of moves are by far the most profitable. But you need to have a word in mind for all of the WRDZ you form or risk being challenged.
You're only obligated to reveal the word you had in mind if an opponent challenges, so a good poker face can go a long way. You could plunk down a high-scoring move with absolutely no clue about what words the WRDZ might form. But if nobody challenges before the next player starts his turn, you get away scott free and gain one point for every tile in every newly-formed WRD. On the other hand, if you're challenged and can't come up with a word for every WRD formed by your move, your challenger takes the points you'd have earned. Worse, they're subtracted from your score! The game continues until somebody reaches a predetermined total.
It may sound confusing, but it's actually a devilishly clever mental challenge. It's also easier than Scrabble because your options are more limited-- you only have one tile to place. Of course, you can insert that one tile anywhere on the board. The dreaded Q, Z, J, and X are surprisingly easy to play-- but once on the board, they often pose formidable problems in later moves. You don't even need to spell well or have a large vocabulary. In fact, if you're playing against opponents with better language skills, they'll often not challenge your intended bluffs because they're able to think of words for them!
If you have any interest in word games, WRDZ belongs on your shelf.