Meet The Game
Words. We use them every day. I'm using them right now, and so are you. But what happens if you take words, you dice them up into a game (pardon the pun) and you throw in some insanity? Well, then you get Unspeakable Words, a card game with a Cthulhu twist. Today though, we're reviewing the Deluxe edition, which comes with a couple of extra features in the box. For those of you who love a quick card game like Uno but wishes it played like Scrabble, then read on and let's make some words.
How To Play
Each player has a hand of seven cards, which they can use to make words. On their turn, they can lay as many of these cards down so long as they make a word. Like in Scrabble, these have to be words in the dictionary (any language you like) and cannot be proper nouns or words already used before. Unlike in Scrabble, where points are assigned to letters based on their frequency in the language, letters in Unspeakable Words are scored by the number of angles they have. So an S or a U scores 0 but a H scores 4. Once you have your word, you write it down so no-one can copy it and the score for a running tally. First to 100 wins.
HOWEVER! There are two things you have to be careful of. Firstly, you make a word, you roll a glow in the dark d20 to try and equal or beat your score. If you fail to do so, you lose one sanity, represented by five cute lil' Cthulhu's. When you get down to just one, you go insane. Which in this game, isn't actually that bad. You can now make up your own words, creating things that make sense to you but no one else, but you still have to roll. If you fail the sanity check whilst insane, you get so influenced by the mighty Cthulhu that you die and you're out of the game.
Secondly, when you make a word which takes you to or over the 100-point mark, you have to make your sanity check. If you fail, your word does not score as you grow ever more insane.
There are a couple of optional rules, including my favourite known as the Chewx rule. The Chewx rule encourages players to make up the definitions of the words they come up with whilst insane. I get the sense that this rule was added after the game featured on Wil Wheaton's TableTop but I like that it exists. We had a lot of fun with a definition for the word "NUUUR" - which I'm not allowed to publish.
I have fond memories of playing Scrabble with my grandparents and playing word games like Bananagrams is always a fun mental challenge. What I like about Unspeakable Words is that it is a great icebreaker game. It's something you can pick up and play several quick hands of without taxing yourself too much. The deluxe edition has the bonus of multicoloured Cthulhu figures which you can use. This includes two glow in the dark colours in case you want a spooky game.
I'm not a huge fan of player elimination, but at least you're still involved somewhat. The rounds are quick enough that you don't really miss out. I enjoy something light like this as a break between two heavier games on a game night. Or, when people aren't really feeling something to bog them down. There's a lot of replayability from this game. The combination of letters and the difference in the vocabulary of different players, alongside the chaos that can come from being insane and the optional rules makes this a delight to have in the collection.
There is a luck element for the letters you get. However, you can choose to discard your hand if you aren't getting the letters you want. The downside is that it's the only thing you can do that turn, which kinda sucks.
The main gripe I have about this game isn't actually about the gameplay - it's the packaging. The standard box size is too much for the contents of the game which is a little annoying but hey. I can live with that… because Cthulhu demands it.
This blog was originally published on Sep 30th, 2021. Updated on May 25th, 2022 to improve the information available.