Boggle is a unique dice game that centers around finding the words in a collection of lettered dice rather than on a luck of the roll as with traditional numbered dice games. Released in 1972, it has been in production ever since and it has recently marked its fourth decade in the world of toys and games. Easy to learn, but a challenge to play well, Boggle has a way of winning over gamers of all ages.
The History of Boggle
When game inventor Alan Turoff brought the idea to Parker Brothers in the early seventies, the company opted to distribute it, but the public reaction to the product was lukewarm. Four years later, however, Parker Brothers began to re-market the game and this time they were met with a warmer reception. Boggle caught on and today it is produced by Hasbro and is considered an icon of the commercial games industry.
There are now a variety of games marketed around the concept, including Boggle Junior, featuring easy letter combinations, and Boggle Travel, which is more compact and easier to carry than the original game. Big Boggle was a larger version that expanded the number of dice played and that only counted four-letter words and up. There is also a miniaturized keychain version of the game that could easily serve as a fun distraction virtually anywhere.
In one adaptation of the original game, a red “Boggle Challenge Cube” is included in the set of dice. It features less common letters and there are extra points on offer for any word combination that utilizes a letter on the special cube. For committed players, there is even Body Boggle, a version that is similar to Twister and that involves players finding the words with their hands and feet on a large, printed map of lettered blocks.
How to Play Boggle
Boggle consists of a lidded tray that is evenly divided into sixteen square slots and a set of sixteen dice with a letter on each face. A timer is generally included with the set and each player needs a notepad and something to write with. The dice are put into the tray and, with the lid on, one of the players will first shake it up and then put the tray down, allowing the dice to settle into the slots. The timer is set for three minutes and all of the players get started playing the game at the same time.
The goal of the game is to find as many words containing three or more letters as you possibly can in the span of that three minute limit. Words can be made up of any adjacent letters, including horizontally, vertically and diagonally- connected and the more letters that they use, the better they are for your score. They can be a root word or a variant on a root word, like “getting” or “braked,” and they can also be plural forms. They must use each block only one time though, so the two T’s in “getting” would have to be two different blocks lettered with a T that were adjacent to one another. Only having one T would limit that word find to the word “get” instead. It is also acceptable to find words inside other words and to use them both. For example, a player can get points for car, port and carport, as long as no other player listed them as well.
Players write down all of the words that they find on their notepads, without telling any of the other players, and when the timer sounds, everyone is required to stop writing and show their papers. If more than one person came up with a word, all of the players who found it must cross it off their list. Once all of these common words are eliminated, players can begin to tally their scores for that round.
Scoring in Boggle
The length of the word is what determines its value in Boggle. Any word can be challenged by a player during the game, with a pre-determined dictionary normally serving to settle any disputes. Three- and four-letter words are worth 1 point, words with five letters are worth 2 points, six-letter words are valued at 3 points and seven-letter words at 5 points. All words with eight or more letters are worth 11 points and more experienced players will tell you that it’s not at all easy to find words that long in a jumble of blocks in such a short amount of time.
The letters that you will find on the dice in a game of Boggle could very well depend on when it was produced. Earlier versions of the game had more difficult letter combinations, but modern versions include a higher number of versatile letters that are more commonly used in the English language. There is a die that is labeled with a Qu and that counts as two blocks when it comes to scoring. A lone “q” after all, could rarely be used in Boggle since a “u” must follow it almost all of the time. The addition of the Qu die can add quite a few possibilities to the board anytime that it turns up. Thanks to the fact that it’s a double letter, the Qu block are also part of the longest words that can be found in a standard 4 x 4 Boggle set. Inconsequentially, quadricentennials, and sesquicentennials are all seventeen-letter words that would wind throughout the whole tray and use every last letter.
Boggle remains a dice game that is a delight for those who love words more than forty years after its initial release. Finding the sequence of letters that will bring you the most points is tough, but it can also be utterly addictive, which has made this one of the most loved word games of the last half century. With its legions of fans and simple, winning concept, it’s a good bet that Boggle will be around for a long time to come.