Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Lingo Land is a word game for anyone

 Lingo Land was the fourth game I tried from Dark Imp's tablet collection (which is separate from their playmat collection, which you also print off and play) and it might actually be the best game of the lot. 

Lingo Land is a word building game for as many players as you want to cram in. It's also a Roll and Write, which means you roll some dice and then write something down.

Print the game sheet off. Get a couple of dice. Make sure everyone has something to write with.

The game sheet consists of five boxes and five lines with ten dashes each. The alphabet is broken down into the five boxes. Every box has one of the vowels and the last box has X as an extra letter.

You can probably see where this is going. Roll the dice. One die is assigned to pick a letter box and the other is assigned to a line where you are writing a word. You can pick any letter in your chosen box and letters can be reused. This isn't one of those games where you can only use E once. Sixes are wild.

Okay, this is the touch that actually makes Lingo Land good. Well, not just good but able to be played at all. You can write the chosen letter on any open space on the line. Having that much flexibility lets you actually do some sort of actual planning and makes the game have fun and depth.

You know, every time I write about a word game, I note that I'm really not a word game person. At this point, I have looked at a lot of word games for a non-word game person. (I still hold that Scrabble is an area control game disguised as a word game) Lingo Land checks a lot of boxes for me, though.

Lingo Land is short. It offers some flexibility. And it really favors writing longer words. (You get one point for a three-letter word and fifteen for a ten-letter word) And, compared to the other games I've tried from Dark Imp, it feels more original. (I'm probably wrong and just haven't played the right word games)

There is one flaw. You don’t get any points for nonsense words but you can make nonsense words. I can see having one or two lines as sacrifices to avoid using a pass and keep the game going. (And I can see players hurrying to use pass boxes to shut the game down faster) Still, few games are safe from spoilsports.

My experience with Dark Imp is that they make games that designed to be very accessible for classrooms or non-gamer environments. And they deliver on that goal. I would run them in classrooms and similar environments. Lingo Land is a game I'd think about playing with folks who are into Scrabble or Buy Word or such. I think it can work for a broader audience.

I went into Lingo Land with low expectations. And I think it's a game that will work for the broader casual gamer audience.

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