Unspeakable words is a lite word game by James Ernest and Mike Selinker. As a player you are attempting to form “unspeakable” words of power using your hand of cards. The amount of power unleashed with each word is determined by the number of angles contained in each letter of the word. So as word games go, it’s a little unusual…
Ok, so if determining point value using the number of angles found in the letters of words isn’t enough, each player must then attempt a sanity check to see if their own word has driven them insane. Using a D20 you must roll greater than the number of points earned for your word or lose one Cthulhu sanity marker. Players must strive for the highest point value words to prevent falling behind in score while balancing their odds of going insane thereby losing the game anyway. My head is spinning already. In Unspeakable Words I’ve finally found the word game that can excite me having been bored for years by the mere mention of Scrabble. I am a consummate fan of press-your-luck games and… Bing! Bing! Bing! At last, a press-your-luck word game! I’m floored. I never thought I’d find a game that could create honest, edge of your seat tension in a word game. Brilliant! That said, word games are fairly open-ended, offering as much replay value as your vocabulary will allow. This game though limits your creativity to the number of words that can be created using between three and seven letters. Parents (of the “geek” variety) will appreciate the fact that the game actually does help teach letters. The cards are labeled with phrases like “O is for Oorn”, “A is for Azathoth” or “P is for Proto-Shoggoth”. In addition to these (slightly less commonplace) references, a smaller picture, sometimes almost hidden, shows the mundane counterpart like O is for oyster, A is for apple or P is for penguin. Cool! In summation, despite the limitation of letter-count, this game offers a host of possibilities and there are actually a surprising number of words you will easily think of (excluding the usual proper nouns, acronyms and contractions). There are four variants listed in the rule book to expand your options of play. “The Unspeakable Oath” option for instance, allows Players on the verge of insanity (one counter left out of five) to form gibberish words and still stay in the game (rolling still to hang on to their last shred of sanity). All-in-all a very neat way to pass the time with minimal setup and virtually no explanation required for most players (the points are all printed on the cards for simplicity). I heartily recommend this game for fans of word games (whether or not your are familiar with the H.P. Lovecraft theme) and those that are looking for an enjoyable game to punctuate their evening.
Usually, I’m not a big fan of word games. Scrabble? Blah. I am not much of a speller so if the game requires you to know long/complex words to do well…chances are I won’t know how to spell them and will just be annoyed. But…with Unspeakable Words, you can use simple words throughout and still win because, as stated above, the points are figured in such a way that even simple words can generate a lot of points. My husband and I can sit and play this game all night (and have). It’s a word game that I actually love…and you even get cute little Cthulhu minis!
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