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[GR] letterHEAD

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  • Tom Vasel
    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.
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 8, 2006
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      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
      begins.

      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 gameā€¦

      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.

      Tom Vasel
      "Real men play board games"
      www.tomvasel.com
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