Title: Word Swap
Created By: Peter Guth
Published By: 4Fi Games
Released: Coming to Kickstarter July 28th!
Player Count: 2-7
Time to Play: 30-60 Minutes
Word Swap by Peter Guth is a light weight strategy game for 2-7 players that will be launching on Kickstarter July 28th, 2020. Designed for ages 8 and up, Word Swap is a modern twist on classic word games. Unlike many word games, which use tiles or a board, Word Swap uses cards with letters on them. Players work to score points by forming words using the letter cards in their hand and by trading cards with other players.
But just building a word isn't enough. Cards feature four colors (red, green, blue and yellow), and a word must use at least three cards of the same color to score any points. The more cards of the same color used in a word, the more points it will score.
Players can also score bonus points by completing Goal Cards. Goal Cards contain fun themes, such as Food and Drink or Mode of Transportation. If a player scores a word that fits the theme they take the bonus card, which is worth two points at the end of the game. 10 goal cards are randomly selected at the start of the game. If at any point all goal cards are claimed, the game is over.
In Word Swap, players will have a hand of seven cards that they will use to build their words for points. At any point players may be working on creating up to two different words. There are two actions that a player can do at any point, regardless of whether or not it is their turn (or a certain point in their turn), which are score a word or clear a word. We will touch more on this in a minute.
On a player's turn they do the following:
Play - pick a color and play ALL of the cards in their hand that match that color. Cards can be played to either word of the players choice. This action is mandatory.
A note about cards: a unique feature of Word Swap is that cards can contain more than one letter on them. If a card has multiple letters it can be used interchangeably as either letter. For example: if a card has an A and an E on it, it could be used as either letter in a word. The same applies with colors. Cards can be anywhere from one to three colors an may count as any color displayed on them. However if a card has a multiple colors on it, and you choose to play cards on one of it's colors, you MUST also play this card, even if it has other colors on it too. However if it is more beneficial, the multicolored card can count as a different color, than the color it was originally played when it comes to actually scoring the word.
There are also uncommon letters and rare letters, which are indicated with a symbol next to the letter. Score a word with an uncommon letter and you will earn a Wild Card, which can be used to count as any letter. Score a word with a rare letter and you will earn a bonus point!
Throughout the game, players will work to build their words over multiple rounds. Some words may be complete in just a single turn and others may take several rounds to complete.
Trade - trade cards with any other player. Players may choose to trade any cards in their hand for any cards from another player. The rules on this is very loose, so you can ask for certain colors, letters, both, or give away a card if you are feeling generous. Players may trade as many times as they want on their turn. Cards received through a trade can be played either instantly into an existing word or held in a players hand for future use. This applies to both players involved in the trade, not just the active player. This action is optional.
So you may be thinking, why would I trade cards with other players, doesn't this help them? The short answer is yes, but it actually is very useful to be able to trade. It allows players a chance to find cards to help them score larger words or gain more points for the word they are scoring. As there are a limited number of every letter and color combination, trading helps players to be able to complete their words more successfully. Also, we found it quite fun. Players are allowed to trade any number of cards for any number of cards, so you can actually wind up getting more than your normal 7 card hand if you play your cards right.
Discard - the active player may discard any number of cards in their hand. This action is optional.
Draw - if the active player has less than seven cards in their hand, they Must draw from the Main Deck until they have seven cards. This action is mandatory.
After the active player draws back up to seven cards, the play then passes to the next player.
At any point, players can choose to either Score a Word, or Remove a Word, provided the correct conditions are met.
Score a Word - If a word is finished and has at least three of the same color letters in it, it can be scored. Whichever color is the majority color in the word get's scored, regardless of how long the word is. Players earn more points for having more of the same color cards in the finished word. Player's can score a word on their own turn or someone else's. This is helpful for when you receive a letter in a trade and are able to complete your word on someone else's turn.
Remove a Word - If a player want to remove a word they have been working on, as long as the word is at least three letters long it can be discarded. If a word is removed, all of it's letters must be removed, not just some of them. As players can only ever work on two words a time, this option allows players to clear out space for new words, and is essential when you wind up with letters that an't make a word together.
Play continues until either the main deck of cards runs out or the goal cards deck runs out. At this point, players can play their remaining cards to score final points. The person who has the most points wins!
We had the opportunity to play Word Swap at the 2-player, 3-player, and 4-player count. We've learned that the more people you have playing the faster the game will go. So if you have a larger group you will be able to get in more games in the hour, where as smaller groups may get in just the one. The higher the player count, the more significant trading will be, as you can both help and hinder multiple players with certain trades. The game play of Word Swap worked well at all three player counts that we tried and we believe the game would scale up to larger groups well.
Things we love about Word Swap:
It is easy to learn. The rules are simple and it is easy to get from the box to the table in a matter of minutes. The player aid cards are helpful to remind everyone what actions they can take on their turn, and make an easy reference so players don't need to go back to the rule book often.
It's accessible for color blind folks. While color plays an important role in scoring, each color has it's own symbol which is shown on the card as well. For example yellow cards have circles on them and green cards have triangles. This can help color blind players identify which cards can be played as part of a set to score points.
Word Swap has great replayability. As the letters and colors you obtain change each time you play, there is no one strategy that will always win you the game. Each time you need to get creative with the options you have in hand, which helps keep the game fresh.
We love the option for player interaction in Word Swap. We enjoy the trading action a lot. It adds a bit of a cooperative feel to the competitive nature of the game, which works really well.
The goals cards are also a nice addition to Word Swap. They add an extra level of dept to the game as players battle it out to get the bonus points. We enjoy that there are a bunch of themes, so your goals change each game.
Who do we think would love Word Swap as much as we did?
Word Swap will be an instant favorite for lovers of word games. Want a modern twist on Scrabble? Try Word Swap. Want to see who has a larger vocabulary, you or your friends? Try Word Swap! Want to help your kiddo practice spelling? Try Word Swap! Want a game with a wide ranged player count? Try Word Swap! Want a game to make your next game night a night to remember? Back Word Swap on Kickstarter and help bring Word Swap to life!