Posted by: gschloesser | August 4, 2011

Letter Flip

Designer:  Rudell Designs
Publisher:  Out of the Box
2 Players, 20 minutes
Review by:  Greg J. Schloesser  

Before I discovered European-style games, my wife and I played TONS of Scrabble and our preferred game, Upwords.  Now, I am not a word game expert, but my wife is darned close.  Still, after playing Upwords probably one-hundred times or more, I did get quite proficient at that game.  So, when I heard that Letter Flip was designed by the same group that invented Upwords, I was keenly interested. 

Sadly, Letter Flip is little more than a fancy version of Hangman.  Players take turns guessing letters, with the goal of correctly guessing four words listed on their opponent’s card.  There is little strategy or clever maneuvers here – it is all guesswork.  The result is succinctly unsatisfying.

Each player receives a nifty plastic tray, which contains 26 flip-up letters.  Each letter has an insert that can be lifted to indicate whether that letter appears 1 – 4 times in an opponent’s word.  There is also a slot into which a word card can be slid, allowing the word to be seen by the player but not his opponent.  There are four words per card, containing 3, 4, 5 and 6 letters respectively. 

Players lift all of their letters and slide a word a card into their tray.  Each turn, a player may guess a letter, the word, or the position of a known letter within the opponent’s word.  This last option, however, can only be exercised if a player has successfully guessed all letters in the opponent’s word, but is unsure of their order. 

If a player correctly guesses a letter, the opponent must state how often that letter appears in his word.  The player lifts the insert on that letter to properly indicate this number.  He may continue guessing letters, or even the word, as long as he correctly identifies a letter.  If he guesses incorrectly, that letter is flipped down and play passes to his opponent. 

When a word is correctly guessed, the opponent slides his card to the next word, the player flips-up all of his letters, and play continues as above.  The game ends when one player successfully guesses all four of his opponent’s words.  

Notice I used the word “guess” quite a bit in the above description.  That is because guesswork dominates play.  Sure, one’s knowledge of words and the ability to unscramble letters is helpful, but to get to that point requires accurate guesswork and little else.  This may satisfy some, but I want more than this from word games.  When I have a craving to play with words, I will stick with other titles, of which the design team’s previous effort is one of the best.

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