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.
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.
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.
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.