April 13, 2012

Board Game Capsule: Word on the Street

Word on the Street @ Let's Play Green Bay!
Designed by Jack Degnan (2009)
2-8 players / 20 minutes / Ages 12+

Another game near Out-of-the-Box's booth was an eye-catching, life-sized setup of their popular, team party game, Word on the Street.  My two boys, nephew, and I were immediately interested.  We popped into the booth to quickly learn the game from a staff member on a table set-up before tackling the monstrous edition.  The game is extremely straight-forward.  Before we finished up with the demo game, another family happened in to inquire about the life-sized version.  Game on!

The board consists essentially of five "lanes" of a street with a number of letters running down the center lane from top to bottom.  There are no vowels and some of the uncommon consonants are also omitted.  Each team owns one side of the board.  On a team's turn, they will flip a category card and must think of a word that fits that category.  Then, spelling it out in proper order, they can move each letter of that word one lane closer to their edge of the board.  Your goal is to eventually move it off the board, at which point that letter is yours.  Collect a total of eight letters in this fashion and you win.  If you come up with a word that has one particular letter multiple times, then you can move it as many times as it appears.  So say the category card reads, "U.S. States," and you say Mississippi - well then that letter 's' is most likely yours!

Word on the Street is a nice jack-of-all-trades title.  With it's sand timer, all-ages access, and potential for humorous results, it certainly fits the party game scene in a similar vein as Taboo, Apples to Apples, and Wits and Wagers.  It is a good choice for the "wordy" and learned crowd that likes Scrabble and Boggle.  Its family friendliness is off the charts as both a fun way to spend time and bond with your kids, as well as a learning tool for categorization, synonyms, and spelling for them.  And finally, I could easily see this as a starter, filler, and/or night-cap for hobby gaming groups - there is a tad bit of strategy in not only trying to think of words (quickly) that will pull letters to your side of the street, but also pull them away from the other team.

I'm not pretending this is a deep game, because it is not meant to be such.  It will lack staying power and probably not be a common or recurrent title.  So just don't over-do it.  As a filler, or a fun activity for family gatherings, or a social ice-breaker, or as a learning opportunity for kids, you can't go wrong with Word on the Street.  In doses, this unique social game concept is simple to learn, accessible to kids, and a blast to play.

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