A friend and I discovered this game at someone’s cabin this summer. We couldn’t stop playing it! Seriously, we played 7 to 9 rounds of it each of the five days we were there, and the owners of the cabin ended up giving us the game!
It can be played by up to eight players, and there is also a solitaire version. It’s a little more fun with more than two people, but nothing that two real word lovers can’t deal with!
There is a deck of cards mostly with single letters on them. Each letter is assigned a certain number of points, similar to Scrabble. However there are five cards that have the combinations: TH, IN, CL, QU, and ER.
A game consists of eight hands. In the first hand each player is dealt 3 cards, in the second hand 4 cards, and so on till in the eighth hand you each have 10 cards. On each play you draw one card and discard one card, trying to make words. When someone can use all their letters to make words (but you must also discard), they lay down their cards, and then everyone else around the table gets one last turn. Any letters that a player can’t use are counted against their score.
With more than two players there is a bonus for both the longest word and for the most words. The two of us quickly added a house rule to play one game where the longest word got the bonus and the next game awarded the bonus for most words. The strategy for each bonus is quite different.
We also used various house rules to handicap better players to make it more evenly matched for those who weren’t as adept at word games. The box says ages 8 to adult. I think it would be hard for really unevenly matched players to have fun together. We thought up some possible handicaps to overcome this, but since I’ve only played it with other adults at this point, I don’t know how successful they would be for playing with mixed ages. You could certainly make up some rules of your own.
It is critical to have a dictionary to refer to. Odd words become very important, and the ruling authority is the agreed upon dictionary. Players can challenge a word presented by another player. Using a simple dictionary might handicap the whole game in favor of a younger player, forcing everyone to use easier words.
Since the letters in the deck are not distributed in the same frequency as their use in the English language, words containing certain letters become hugely important. We have practically learned by heart every word of fewer than ten letters in the New Collegiate Dictionary that begins with Q!
It comes with a plastic card tray, but we found this a bother, and only used it to store the cards in the box. It’s convenient to have a table, but since you only lay down your cards at the end of each hand it could be played in a car, train, etc where there is no table, as long as there was some spot for a stock pile and discard pile.
The solitaire version has you deal out almost all the deck in piles with the top card showing. You try to make words, turning up the underneath cards as you use the top letters. You win if you clear all the cards. A really good player can win about half the time.
The company calls it “The short word game.” I’m not sure about that label. We spent up to an hour on each game, but then, we take our words seriously!
Update On Sep 20, 2008: We had a chance to play with three and even four people this year. The games really are short! As you add more people, the liklihood that someone will be able to go out on the first round increases.
Update On Sep 20, 2008: I just love words! So I play Quiddler solitaire because no one here will play with me. I get tired of the fact that the solitaire in the directions favors short words, and does not reward you for forming longer words. So I created another version. You can try my Alternate Quiddler Solitaire.