Ok, it is not Christmas but if i say "Bingo" who would honestly resist to take out a marker and start playing? And what if the game is not the usual one that we are all used to play but a fun party game that does involve the use of a Thesaurus? I am talking about "Word Bingo", a new 2022 family game published by the Finnish Tactic.
Un-boxing And Components
Word Bingo comes in a nice, medium size box. Overall, it is simply designed but colourful and very sturdy. Furthermore the company has a nice green footprint and the paper used comes from responsible sources. Inside the box there are 6 player boards, 1 small hourglass, a set of 110 cards and 80 round cardboard tokens. The components are designed for two to six players although there is nothing really preventing you to increase the maximum number of players. For example, you could purchase multiple copies or you could use a bit of creativity.
Player boards and tokens are very standard. In particular, the cardboard items are very simple although their design is neat and colourful. Cards and the hourglass are also designed to be simple and easy to read. It is evident that all components prioritize the readability over the aesthetic but the overall result is not bad at all.
The rulebook is a single double sided page. It is easy to mistake it for a flier (as I did initially) but it also means you could learn the game in literally a few minutes. This is a big plus for a game that is intended for kids and families.
As mentioned above, the game is similar to a classic Bingo but instead of numbers, it will be “drafting” words. At the beginning of the game, each player picks one board that displays 49 letters in a 7 by 7 grid. Scope of the game is to mark a full row or 7 either vertically, horizontally or diagonally.
At the start of each turn, a player will set the sand timer and turn one card. The card will detail a subject and the player will need to think of a word that fits the subject of the card using one of the letter on the board. For example, you will need to name “something that is hairy” or “something slimy” or “a part of the body” etc. If the player finds a word and the answer is not challenged by the others, the player can cover the letter corresponding to the word with a token.
Players could keep answering in case they do not have the matching letter on the board. Once they place a token, they can turn another card and try to place as many tokens as possible before the the sand in the hourglass runs out.
To spice up the game, the deck contains also cards without a subject but with a twists. Among the twists, some will allow the current player to place a token for free or to steal one from any other player. Other twists could immediately end the player’s turn and move the turn to the next player, to the one next to them or to the previous player.
My favourite twist is the lightning round. These cards are marked on the back with a big symbol to be easy to spot and they still have a subject written on them. When turned, every player could think of a word and the first one to answer gets the token on their board. The active player can then turn another card but it is a good way to keep everyone on their toes during each round.
As mentioned above, the first player to form a row of seven tokens wins and can shout "Bingo".
Word Bingo is one of those games that tends to stick with you for long. The game is designed to be simple and to be fun for the whole family. In fact, I have played it mostly with my son and a couple of friends and we always had some very good time together.
Overall, the game mechanics are very solid and provide good fun. All subjects are fun and sufficiently vary to allow some re-playability. The twists are also very efficient in preventing anyone to fill the board right from their first turn. Tokens rapidly go to the board and a “Bingo” always come out unexpectedly.
It is quite funny to see how the pressure tends to build up due to the time running out and the risk to turn a twist after each card. Each player finds himself eagerly awaiting their turn hoping another player will not put too many tokens on the board. This is pretty much the same tension you feel when your numbers are not pulled out in a classic game of Bingo.
I think this is one of the major strengths of this game as it keeps up the players attention till the very end and it makes the game exciting. It is true Word Bingo is not a very complex game with a high production value but it is a solid game that could provide a lot of fun. Considering the good price, I would put it into the bag for any family reunion or Christmas dinner. Perhaps with a thesaurus to get an head start….