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Word Game Review: ‘Syl-la-bles’

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Word games come in many shapes and forms, but few prove as versatile as Syl-la-bles by creator Michael Ross and George Ward from Twin Titan. Other games are typically lopsided toward the word-wealthy, whose flexible minds can run rings around those who may depend more on spellcheck. Rather than being limited by tiles picked out of a bag, Syl-la-bles gives players the chance to think of any word they want in pursuit of points. This makes the game applicable to kids, adults, and spelling-gurus of all ages.

sylables gameThe Syl-la-bles board is set up with an English alphabet in a circle. Players roll dice and move around the board, landing on letters that serve as the starting point for a new word. Each letter has a point-value, ranging from the easier “T” and “O” with ten points to the fifty-point “Z” and “Q.” When a player lands on a letter, he or she must write out a word beginning with that letter on a piece of paper. For each letter in that word, the player gains that many points, encouraging longer and more difficult words. However, if the word is spelled incorrectly, another player may challenge, and no points are given.

Players may also land on the “Spelling Bee” or “Thesaurus” spaces. Here, a card is drawn from the corresponding decks, and the player is challenged to spell the word or name a synonym of the word on the card with correct answers being worth five hundred points. Both come with two options: an advanced word in black print and a beginner word in green print. Players may choose ahead of the game which color they want or may even challenge themselves with an advanced from time to time.

The innovative take in Syl-la-bles is its points system. Because players are generating their own words, some might land on “A” and spell “apple” for 100 points while others might spell “antidisestablishmentarianism” for 460 points. Friends and family typically know who the wordsmiths are and can set higher points goals for those crafty ones. This system of variable goals also makes the game applicable to family time with parents choosing the advanced black print or spelling long words toward 10,000 points while kids may work toward 5,000. The gameplay is the same while the end conditions are adapted toward each player’s ability, making for no confusion in “beginner” rules as well as higher tension as the game progresses and everyone closes in on their own goals.

Syl-la-bles is a game for two to eight players aged eight and up. The game can be a great tool for boosting the language-skills for elementary school kids just starting out on spelling as well as a fun challenge to word-aficionados. Because the points system is flexible, it could be played as a short game with a few thousand points or as an evening of words, drinks, and chatter with a much higher goal.

Syl-La-Bles is available through Pavlovz Toys.

Three out of Five Stars

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About Jeff Provine

Jeff Provine is a Composition professor, novelist, cartoonist, and traveler of three continents. His latest book is a collection of local ghost legends, Campus Ghosts of Norman, Oklahoma.
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