Time to go bananas with words

Word games are, and always have been, everywhere. Most people start that’s why we’re talking about Bananagrams today.

Published: 23rd March 2019 02:03 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd March 2019 06:22 AM   |  A+A-

Arjun Sukumaran

By Express News Service

CHENNAI: Word games are, and always have been, everywhere. Most people start that’s why we’re talking about Bananagrams today. When you open Bananagrams up, you’ll find 144 plastic pieces that look quite a lot like Scrabble tiles. Each tile has a letter on it, but none of the letters have point values associated with them. Turn all the tiles facedown and, depending on the number of players, everybody takes a certain number of tiles at random from the central pool. Once that’s done, somebody says ‘Split!’ (warning — this is not the last banana-related reference to be found here) and everybody flips their tiles faceup and starts making words with them — at the same time. What you’re trying to do is use all your letters to make words as quickly as you can.

Because there’s no board and you’re allowed to dismantle previously-made words as you like, you’ve got a lot of freedom here. The only rules are that all words must intersect (like Scrabble or the crossword), words can only be read from left to right or top to bottom, and all intersecting letters must make meaningful words. Let’s say you haven’t quite finished your letters, but somebody else manages to. They yell ‘Peel!’, and everybody must take one additional tile from the centre of the table. This could be good — it might let you finish off a word — or it might force you to disrupt your carefully-planned structure in order to accommodate it.

This continues until the tiles remaining in the centre of the table are less than the number of players, at which point the first player to finish using all their tiles and yells ‘Bananas!’ wins the game. There’s a lot to love about Bananagrams. First of all, it’s extremely portable — most versions of this game come in a banana-shaped zipper case — so you can carry it around easily. It plays 2-8 players, so you’ll almost always be able to handle various numbers of people. The flexibility it offers can win over people who find Scrabble too restrictive or stressful, and the real-time aspect of it really levels the playing field wonderfully.

The game also comes with rules to play various variants, that can change the feel of the game up quite a bit. All in all, it’s quite a remarkable package and you get a lot for your money here. Why is Bananagrams full of banana references? I don’t know, but what I do know is that it’s an excellent word game that you can play and have fun with just about anyone — including people who don’t like Scrabble. There’s a lot of game to be found in this weirdlyshaped box, and you should definitely check it out.


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