- Box design is supposed to make you WANT to buy the game. Usually
boxes have interesting and colorful artwork, designed to catch the
customer's attention. LetterHEAD (Enterfection Games, 2005 - Scott
Sample) seems to have the opposite effect, having one of the creepiest
box covers on it that I've seen in a while. A demonic looking
individual, with fingers clasped together, looks balefully at the
buyer, as veins seem to be popping from his head. Fun!
The problem is that nothing about the game can rescue it from these
poor first impressions. Not only are the components shabby (to say
the least!), but the game itself is simply an exercise in anagrams.
There are already games that have been made for the anagram enthusiast
(Anagramania), and they at least have quality components. I found the
game lacking in pretty much everyway, and can't find anything to
recommend in it.
A board containing a long spiral of spheres is placed on the table,
with players placing their chips on the first sphere in the line. A
pile of cards is shuffled and placed on the board, as well as a
thirty-second timer. One player is chosen to go first, and the game
On a player's turn, they simply turn over the top card and look at
the jumble of letters on it (such as "PHILDON"). While another player
flips over the timer, they have that time to attempt to figure out
what the anagrammed word is (in this case, it's "Dolphin"). If the
player does get the word, they immediately move their pawn forward on
the track one space for each letter in the word. They then get
another turn and continue to go until they miss one.
If the player does run out of time, then the card passes to the next
player, who has the timer flipped and follows the same rules. If none
of the players get a specific word, then the card is tossed, and the
player to the left of the original player goes next. The game
continues in this manner until one player reaches the middle of the
board, at which point they are declared the winner.
Some comments on the game…
1.) Components: Well, I don't know how to describe the components
without breaking down and calling them what they are - awful.
Frankly, I can't believe the price charged for the game, because I
would be willing to put out homemade copies for the same price, and
ones that would have much better quality. From the demented picture
on the box, to the lackluster, poorly printed board, to the clear
plastic chips used as for tokens, nothing is of any real value -
except perhaps the timer. But the worst part is by far the cards. I
can forgive the lackluster (although easily visible) font, but the
thin black border on the business-card sized cards has a worn look to
it, making the cards look like they were all quickly cut by hand. I
almost didn't want to read the rules after seeing the components, but
I persevered on.
2.) Rules: The rules of the game are printed (in rather large type)
on two sides of a sheet of paper. They are written well enough, since
the game is very easy to teach and play.
3.) Anagrams: If you don't like anagrams, stop reading the review
right now and go look for another game. Frankly, all the game is
about is finding out who is the best anagram solver. Now, it is
possible that this can be done in a fun way, but letterHEAD is not the
way. It's equivalent to the fun that you get when you read random
words from the dictionary and see who knows the most. The person who
is best at anagrams will win; and if you already know who that is, why
play the game? I do realize that there are a lot of people who have a
fascination with anagrams, such as those found in a newspaper or
computer game - why play this one?
4.) Selection: There are over two hundred words in the game, which
might sound like a rather large selection; but it really isn't.
Because once you've seen a word and learned the anagram, I really
doubt that you'll forget it so quickly. A list of letter groups and
their anagrams are included, which make cheating possible, I suppose.
5.) Fun Factor: Well, not any, actually - unless you really like
anagrams. It's possible for one person to win the game on the first
turn, if they're good enough. Whee. There's no player interaction,
and the word selection ranges from fairly easy to fiendishly hard. Oh
look, I got a hard word every turn! When can we play again?
I won't play letterHEAD again; it's one of the few games that really
have gotten it wrong on all counts - both in mechanics (if there are
even any) and in the horrifying components. I hesitate to give a game
such a negative review, but I honestly don't think anyone will enjoy
this game. Anagram lovers will do better with another alternative,
and gamers have ten thousand better choices.
"Real men play board games"