Kwyjibo – Revised


Tim & I developed Kwyjibo in February as part of our unit on spelling games. It’s a spelling game where players create nonsense words and then give them definitions. We decided to revisit it because we thought it had potential and we were encouraged by our professor, Allison Parrish, to develop it more. Kwyjibo is not yet perfected, but we have taken steps to bring it closer to a game we hope to kickstart this summer, after working with a designer, and contacting a printer.

Required Materials

Kwyjibo requires two decks to play. A deck of letter combinations, classified as vowels, consonants, prefixes, and suffixes. A second deck of  prompt cards is also required. Prompt cards include phrases like “The next exercise craze” which create categories within which players create words. You can download a printable version here.

Kwyjibo is best played with 3 to 6 players.

Game Play

To begin each players draw 7 cards from the letter combination deck. With these cards they will create nonsense words. 1 player each round take a turn as a judge. A judge draws a card from the prompt deck and reads the prompt aloud. Players then begin to create a word with their cards. They may use as many of their cards as they like. After a suitable amount of time as passed (usually about 1 minute, but this is at the judges discretion), players read their words aloud and give the word a definition. Players should not be held to the proper or common English pronunciation of the word. Players read their words in alphabetical order (this may be used strategically to get a preferred read order). After all words have been read and definitions given, the judge selects what they believe to be the best word. The player who created the best word receives the prompt card; players discard the cards the used, and draw back up to 7 cards. The round repeats; the role of judge moves to the left. The first player to earn 7 prompt cards wins the game!

Judging Criteria

Judges may use any criteria to select which ever word they deem the best word. In our experience several metrics have been most helpful, and most frequently cited by judges.

Among these are(in no particular order):

1. Creativity of Definition

2. Usability of the Word

3. Pleasantness of Word Pronunciation

4. Interpretation of the Prompt

Tie Breakers

In the event that a judge is unable to choose a winner, the judge may invoke the tie breaker rule. In this instance the tied players create another word for the same prompt with their remaining letter cards.  In the event players have no cards remaining in their hand they may draw back up to 4 cards.

Player Response

Fewer people played the final version of this game than we would have preferred, but many contributed feedback throughout our refinement process and inspired our refined judging criteria. Through the several months our friends have played this game, they have mostly complained about the design of the cards, something we have not yet been able to fix. Many of the more experienced players were concerned the prompt cards would limit their creativity. They instead found that the prompt cards made the game more accessible, and that they did not hinder game play. We could still see advanced players choosing to play without prompt cards.


You can watch us play Kwyjibo here!




The Premise 

Diximus is a Dixit varient, which takes Dixit’s truncated story telling mechanic and expands on it. A standard Dixit game set is required for play. The structure of game play is slightly changed, but allows for further interpretation of the abstract art provided on Dixit playing cards.

The Brainstorm

Diximus originally started out as a much more complicated game played with Story War cards. Players were encouraged to ask leading questions of the storyteller to nudge the story into a direction for which they could play a concluding card. This failed miserably as the leading questions often made it quite obvious which cards where played by which players. Also the definite nature of the Story War cards meant fewer possible meanings or endings could be.

Game Play

Game set up remains almost the same. Instead of a six card hand each player maintains a 7 card hand.

Players take turns as the story teller. The story telling component differs greatly from that of Dixit’s. On the storytellers turn instead of saying a single sentence to describe a single card, the story teller crafts a story with three cards from their hand. The story teller than leaves their story unfinished playing a final fourth card face down. The story teller should leave a slight suggestion has to how their story ends. You can view a video of this step here.

Every other player then also attempts to end the story with a card from their own hand, placing it facedown. Players should choose cards that the story teller also could have chosen based on the story tellers suggested ending. You can view a video of this step here.

From here scoring happens the same way as in Dixit. Three scoring scenarios are possible.

  1. If all players select the storyteller’s card then all players but the story teller receives two points.
  2. If no player selects the storyteller’s card then all players receive two points plus a point for each player that chose their card.
  3. If at least one player selects the storyteller’s card then the story teller and each player that selected the storyteller’s card gets three points. Players receive one extra point for each player that mistakenly chose their card.

All cards that have been seen are discarded.

Players draw their hands back up to seven cards.

Storytelling responsibility then shifts to the left, and a new round begins.

Play repeats until a player has earned thirty points. Cards from discard pile are shuffled and reused if needed.

Player Feedback

Players seemed to enjoy the game. All players were told about regular Dixit before game play, but few had played it previously. All players stated that they enjoyed this variation more than their understanding of Dixit. One player, who plays Dixit with family, said she was considering playing this variant instead the next time she played.

I developed this Dixit variant with Tim Livingston. You can read his thoughts here.

Jux – A Juxtaposition Game.

Jux was created in the same vein as Apples to Apples, the classic juxtaposition game with a few twists to make it original. Instead of juxtaposing two words or phrases, Jux asks players to juxtapose a number and a prepositional phrase, and marry the combination to a new concept.

Jux must be played with at least 3 people, but is best played with between 5 and 10. Players take turns playing judge. Turn order rotates to the left.

Game play require 1 D4, 4 D10s, small note cards or slips of paper, and our deck of prepositional prompt cards.

The judge begin by rolling all 5 dice. This generates a random number between 0 and 9,999. Players first read the D4 to determine how many digits the random number will have, and then read the D10s in chromatic order. Using our included dice the D10 order is red, orange, green, blue.

After generating the random number, the judge draw a card from the prompt deck to create a fill in the blank sentence with the number and the prepositional phrase included on the card. For example: if the number 453 had been rolled, and the card “in the Navy” had been selected, the judge would then read the sentence “There are 453 BLANK in the Navy”.

Players then write down something they feel best fills in that blank. After all submissions are collected the judge reads all submissions aloud an chooses the one they think best fits. Judges are encouraged to pick an answer that is both creative and realistic, but may use what ever criteria they like.

In our several play tests, players seemed to receive the game well. In early play test instead of writing down responses player shared them vocally with the group. While players enjoyed the lack of anonymity, and the ability to lobby for their answer, the judge would frequently forget the earliest answers, and players disliked it when other players piggybacked on earlier responses. After we switched to writing responses down players were still encouraged to lobby for their responses, and anonymity was not expected. Additionally, during game player, some players forgot the chromatic dice order. Originally each die was assigned a power of ten, but players found that confusing and instead we settled on a read order instead.

A link to a saved Periscope live stream of gameplay is included here for your pleasure.

Tim’s thoughts can be found here.

Follow me on periscope @tomgeiser.

Taboo Meets Times Up!

In Times Up! players divide into teams, and select cards from an included deck of famous people and works of media. After each player selects several cards the cards are shuffled together players attempt in three rounds to get their teammates to guess cards in a still similar to many other guessing games. In each round the same cards are used, but restrictions increase on player method. In Round 1 each player gets 30 seconds, and may say or do anything they like, other than say the word to be guessed. In Round 2 players receive 60 seconds, may only use 1 word, but still may do anything they like. In Round 3 players receive 60 seconds, and may use no words. Cards are rotated between teams, and each round lasts until every card in the deck has been used.

For several months I’ve been playing a sort of DIY version of the party game Time’s Up!. In this version each player writes either 4-5 cards, each with a proper noun excluding place names. This variant allows for each game to be unique.

On top of this DIY version Tim and I have added several more restrictions to the first two rounds and to the card creation portion. Players were given prompt cards that contained a category. Categories included: Asian country, NHL player, NBA team, flower, author, etc. Under each category were a list of 5 prominent members of that category. Players were then told to write a card for each category, but not write any of the prominent members included on the card. Players were told to also include the category on the card, and were not allowed to say the category in Rounds 1 & 2.

The game received mixed reviews. Everyone who had played the previous DIY version preferred the version with fewer restrictions. If our new version were to work, players suggested a shorter list of restricted members on each card. Players also suggested that Rounds 1 & 2 last 60 seconds, and Round 3 last 30. They felt this bring the game to a better balance of intensity throughout the rounds.

If we were to make another attempt at this version I think we would include fewer restricted members as player suggested. I would also change timing, but would perhaps make all rounds 60 seconds.

A link to Tim’s post on this game will be added shortly.

Kwyjibo – A Spelling Game

Kwyjibo is similar in style to Apples to Apples and Balderdash, while also incorporating a creative spelling function. Players create nonsense words and then give their words definitions. A best word is selected each round by a judge.

I collaborated with Tim Livingston on Kwyjibo’s creation. You can read his thoughts on the process here.



    • Deck of 454 letter cards (175 consonant cards, 135 vowel cards, 63 prefix cards, 81 suffix cards) for spelling nonsense words.
    • Optional: a pen and paper for recording winning and notable words


    • Each player draws ten letter cards from the deck. They arrange the cards in such a way that they have created a unique word. Players need not use all ten cards, and will receive no particular bonus for doing so. (NOTE: Words that can already be found in the dictionary are NOT acceptable.)
    • Once they have arranged the word, they must devise a definition. When everyone is prepared with both a word and a definition, players present to another player who has been designated as the judge. Presentation progresses alphabetically, (i.e., a player whose word begins with an ‘A’ would go before a player whose word begins with an ‘S’.)
    • The judge selects their favorite word, which is the winner of the round.
    • Players replenish their hands up to ten cards.
    • Play continues until a player has won seven rounds.IMG_2927


Kwyjibo differs from other spelling games in that there are very few single letter cards. Nearly all cards (85%) contain more than one letter. This both adds restrictions to word creation, but also expedites the creation process, as common meanings and roots are more easily discovered. IMG_2926

Kwyjibo has been a rousing success. Several of our prototypers have said they are willing to purchase some future version of the game.

Additionally our prototypers exposed patterns in winning words we did not originally anticipate. For instance, inclusion of word etymology, a word’s pleasant sound, and a word’s ease of frequency of potential use, all contributed to a player’s success. Later definitions also tended to have more success. To compensate, upon the suggestion of a prototyper, we added alphabetical definition presentation.  IMG_2930IMG_2935

In the future iterations I hope to adjust card ratios to better support single deck game play. Currently Tim and I are split on the superiority of single vs. multi deck play. Multi deck play allows players to draw from each of the four card types as they wish, instead of a random assortment of card types in our current version. Adjusting card type ratios to correct for the single deck’s slight skew toward consonant pairings.

Winning Words:

Ewtionaw, n. – the feeling of disgust brought on by hearing a southern accent.
Croucroucroocreyadj. – color resembling a bodily fluid
Enclive, n. – Section of cabinet or drawer designated for a particular type of item
Overclieth adj. – to be into the cleanliness of one’s foot ware above all else.
Deeeeaen n. – a word coming from a dolphin language which is untranslatable, but refers to the feeling one has when returning to the ocean after being held in captivity.
Cloution n. – a hole dug with a key
Nonbritioned adj. – to be reduced to a state of breadlessness
Semigreelable, adj., a person from your past who you remember apathetically
Slolsh, adj. – the state of being both symmetrical and ugly
Irtheapleashed, adj. – the disruption of the sense of satisfaction of being idle while in a swimming pool
Embreaglition, n. – the intense feeling that an eagle is nearby
Insleagrly, adv. – to do something that should be done secretly without regard for secretcy.
Erlyousing, v. (Erlyouse) – to complain about something that has not yet happened
Interchauch, n. – The period of health between two serious illnesses
Skouble, n. – An error made during skeeball.
Wroyg, n. – A person who has been with the group the whole time, but is only noticed after a few hours.
Twoiless, adj. – When a person, normally a girl, appears dressed conservatively and plainly without her normal twee accessories.
Trowstible, adj. – Being prepared to receive someone else’s arms as your own for a party trick
Griesacable, adj. – Something that could benefit from being toned down a notch or two.
Embrow, v. – To add eyebrows, ie: with an eyebrow pencil
Semieaglou-snauoudrimity, adj. – The state of being a work of art which is partly meant to have a (somewhat) political point and and partly to (somewhat) inspire confusion as to its artistic status and merit
Stowsnoush, n. – A wooly, pygmy hippopotamus, indigenous to the mountainous regions of New Zealand
Anti-trolible, adj. – An action which undermines the safety of a bridge
Non-lousitive, adj. – The state of being something that could not go wrong
Semi-shupling, v.  – To partially almost fall down a flight of stairs
Miswhoorous, n. – A circus or carnival on the day after it has rained
Eeea, n. – The sound of things after your ears have popped
Flautrious, adj., one who appears to be keeping a secret while playing the flute

Project #1: Making a Crossword Puzzle

Screen-Shot-2015-01-22-at-3.04.23-PMWhen first shown, I expected to be able to make several crossword puzzles before getting frustrated. I expected to create better and better puzzles which each new attempt. This is not how things occurred.

Screen-Shot-2015-01-20-at-2.37.13-PMI first attempted to do a 15×15 crossword in standard American style. I had several long words that I immediately wanted to include, but found it very frustating to check every cell in the puzzle. I breifly considered acronyms for forign government agencies, and the rarest of diseases, but then decided that would not make for an appropriately difficult puzzle. I began to rely heavily on the Find and Fit feature on Dowedo, but found that its limited proper noun categlogue, and inabiltiy to suggest multi-word answers would inhibit my ability to create a crossword I enjoyed.

In my new puzzle I still attempted to follow the American convention of radial symmetry, but abandoned the check on each letter. I had tried to devise a theme in the first puzzle, but after little success did not attempt it in the new puzzle. Getting words to fit would now be the priority.

After switching to a 13×13 puzzle with fewer checks the process came to me a little more easily. Answers and phases were still difficult to come by, but there were more possibilities. I began to rely less on the Find and Fit, and instead tried to fill in common letter combinations and see what words came to me that way.Screen-Shot-2015-01-21-at-4.05.57-PM

The hardest answers on the 13×13 were the two that went across the entire puzzle, these affected so many other entries and any alteration would be painstaking. I eventually settled on NEWSGREETINGS, an answer I am still not happy with and BRIANWILLIAMS, which I arrived at by first playing around with William Jennings Bryan’s name.

After settling on a less than perfect grid of answer, I began crafting clues with mostly obvious hints. I then went back over to try to include word play, or make the clues less direct. I spent little time crafting the clues into recently discovered forms, instead relying mostly on memory for clue conventions. I consulted several friends to ensure that the clues were direct enough to generate the answers I desired. They were mostly affirming, and generally told me about clues that did already did not satisfy me.

The clues ended up coming much more easily than the answers.

The results are below.