Cost: $18 From: Tah Dah, 1-815-624-8337 Players: 2-6 Playing Time: 5-30 minutes Type of game: Word Complexity: 2 Skill level: 5 Reviewed by: Peter Sarrett, Issue 2.4, Summer 1994
This review is going to be short and sweet, just like the game it's about. Games Magazine voted Pick Two "Best Word Game of 1993." That was recommendation enough for me to check it out. Pick Two has since skyrocketed onto my 5+ list faster than any game in history but Magic. Granted, its short play time made it easy to get a lot of games in...
Pick Two consists of a gaggle of thin plastic tiles, each with a letter and a point value (plus some wild tiles which may be used as any letter). These are all shuffled face down in the center of the table and everyone picks eight to begin with. Someone says, "Go!" and everyone flips their tiles over and races to assemble them into words, crossword-style. That is, if you use the tiles to make more than one word, each word must be connected to another and all adjacent tiles must form real words reading left-to-right or top-to-bottom. Look, if you don't understand what crossword-style means, you're reading the wrong 'zine.
As soon as someone incorporates all his letters into a crossword, he calls out, "Pick Two!" Everyone stops what they're doing and all players, including the one who called out, draw two more tiles. When everyone has their new tiles, play resumes with players trying to incorporate their new tiles into their crossword. "Good" letters might be able to be dropped right into a player's crossword structure. Difficult letters might require disassembling part of a crossword, shuffling letters around and creating different words than before, which is perfectly fine.
As soon as someone has used all of his tiles, he calls out "Pick Two" and everyone draws two more tiles... and so on until there are no more tiles to draw. At this point the game ends when someone uses all of his tiles, and everyone totals the value of all their unused tiles. The lowest score after five rounds is the winner.
A round of Pick Two takes only a couple of minutes to play, faster even than a round of Boggle. A series of good draws can result in rapid-fire calls of "Pick Two," keeping the game moving at a frenetic pace. The game tends to be self-balancing, though, as inevitably a player's luck turns sour and a Q turns up to stop him dead in his tracks, forcing a hasty dissection of a crossword. We always go around the table and have everyone read their words aloud at the end of the game-- but then, we're the types who value the use of creative, more unusual words over winning.
Like most word games, Pick Two is child's play to learn. Unlike many word games, Pick Two takes very little time to play. Its speed and simplicity are the core of its charm, but the reason it became so popular in our group is because it's also a lot of fun.
Pick Two requires a lot of table space-- crosswords tend to sprawl in unexpected directions. For a more compact game, try CountDown with the same equipment: draw 20 tiles and form a crossword in 60 seconds; each tile scores once per word in which it is used, and the highest score wins.
Pick Two is apparently only available through mail order. Which is probably just as well, since the horrendous box design might have actually dissuaded me from buying it in a store. As it was, the folks at Tah Dah got the game into my hands a scant four days after I ordered it. And it hasn't gathered a speck of dust since.