At a Loss for Words: Boggle review

Simple yet challenging, this game boggles the mind in a good way

 Boggle is a word game, played on dice which have letters on each side. The dice are placed inside a covered tray and then scrambled. The tray itself is designed so that the dice settle on a 4×4 grid. The objective of the players, then, is to form as many words using the letters facing upwards on the grid. The words are formed as follows: the words must be formed using letters adjacent to each other, meaning it is possible to use letters horizontally, vertically and diagonally next to one another. The letter on a single dice can’t be used more than once in a single word.

There is some leeway in which words are permitted, and this should be agreed upon before the game. The game contains an hourglass, which runs for around three minutes. This is the time that the players have to form the words. After the time runs out, the players compare the words formed. If two or more players wrote down the same word, it is removed from all players. The rest of the words then get a score depending on their length: More points are awarded for longer words. After this, the dice are scrambled once again. Once a player reaches the agreed upon point limit, he or she wins the game.

The game itself contains very few parts: 16 lettered dice, the tray and tray cover, and an hourglass. In addition, it is recommended for the players to have a pen and a sheet of paper to write the words on. As a consequence, the game is really fast to set up, and you’ll be playing in no time. The simplicity of the rules results in a game that does not intimidate the first timers, although the game itself is surprisingly challenging: It takes time for the eye to recognize the possible word patterns in the grid. This is absolutely a game of skill, so newcomers may have a hard time going up against more experienced players.

It is possible to play the game alone for practice or just for enjoyment, as I did, but my recommendation is to have at least one opponent to play against. The box cover of the game states that the maximum number of players would be 8, but you have to bear in mind that this amount of players may slow the accumulation of points, since any word found by two or more players yields no points.

Boggle is a fun, simple and challenging game that is very compact and as such is very suitable for travel, as an example. The possible grid combinations and the steepish learning curve ensure replayability, although a right amount of players, preferably from three to four, ensures the maximum amount of fun.


Score: 8/10

Game Info:

Developers:  Bill Cooke, Alan Turoff

Publisher: Parker Brothers

Release Date: 1972 (Original)

Age Rating: 8+