How to Play
Each player/team chooses which color they will play. Each player/team takes the corresponding colored dice. Place the scoring pegs into the blank holes. Place the playing token on the blank space in the middle of the board.
Playing the Game
Each round begins with both players/teams rolling their cubes. Each player/team then uses the letters they rolled to form words. The rules of the round are determined by the space that the pawn is on.
Blank Space: Players use the cubes to make one word.
Wild Space: Players use the cubes to make one or more words.
2 Space: Players use the cubes to make two words. The player has to form two words or none of the cubes used count.
X Space: Players use the cubes to make two words but they need to both share one of the letters like a crossword puzzle.
Players/teams both form their word(s) at the same time. When one player/team thinks they have used as many of the cubes as they can, they flip over the timer. The player/team that flips over the timer can not change their cubes. The other player/team has until the timer runs out to work on creating a better word(s).
When creating words the following words cannot be used:
- Capitalized words
- Hyphenated words
- Abbreviations or symbols
- Prefixes or Suffixes
- Foreign words not in the dictionary
- Single letter words
Players can challenge other players’ words if they are misspelled or are not valid words. If the word is determined to be invalid none of the cubes used in it are counted.
Both players count up how many of their cubes they were able to use. The player/team who uses more cubes gets to move the token. The player/team gets to move the token the number of spaces of the difference of cubes used by both players/teams. If the two players/teams tie, the round is played over.
When moving the token the player can move it in any direction except diagonally. The objective is to move the token into one of the scoring zones of your own color. When the token is moved onto one of the scoring zones, the player/team scores those many points which are indicated with the scoring pegs. The token is then moved to the center of the gameboard.
Winning the Game
The game ends when one player/team scores 100 or more points.
Overall I wouldn’t say that I love or hate word games. I don’t go out of my way to play a bunch of word games but I don’t mind playing a word game every so often. The biggest problem I have with the genre is a lot of the games seem quite similar with a lot of them using the same mechanics. This is the case with the game I am looking at today, Boggle Bowl. Boggle Bowl is a fun game but suffers from feeling like nothing more than an average word game.
Being a game in the Boggle franchise you would think that Boggle Bowl plays a lot like Boggle. In shares some things in common but it plays quite differently. Boggle Bowl does utilize word dice to form words like Boggle. Otherwise the games are pretty different. Boggle has the dice in a grid and you try to find as many words as you can in that grid. Boggle Bowl has you rearrange the dice to form words where you try to use more of the dice than your opponent(s). The objectives are similar between the two games but the execution is quite different.
While Boggle Bowl plays very similar to most word games, the one unique element is the gameboard. This is an interesting mechanic. The board mechanic adds a little more strategy to the game other than just who is the best at word games. For the most part it is going to be pretty obvious how you are going to want to move the token though. You are obviously going to move it towards your own scoring spots and away from your opponent(s). You may choose to have the token land on a particular space if you are noticeably better at that challenge than the other player(s). Otherwise there is not a lot of strategy in moving the piece around the gameboard.
As a whole I would say that Boggle Bowl is a pretty easy game. The rules are quite simple as new players can learn the game in minutes. It is also surprisingly easy to use a lot of your cubes in each round. Unless you roll poorly you can pretty easily use most of your cubes in any of the challenges that let you create more than one word. Usually you can use all but two or so of the cubes. If you can only form a single word you are not going to use all of the cubes (unless you are really lucky) but you can still use quite a few of the cubes. Since you can use the majority of your cubes in any round it usually means neither player/team will get to move the token a lot of spaces after a round unless the other team messed up the rules for the round or they misspelled or made up a word.
Like any dice game there is a lot of luck in Boggle Bowl. Unless one team/player is significantly better than the other, whoever rolls better is likely going to win the game. The letter distribution on the cubes actually seems pretty good because it is pretty easy to use a lot of your cubes. A bad roll can really mess you up though. If you roll a bunch of the same letter or a lot of letters that don’t work well together, you could end up losing a lot of ground in one round just due to the letters you rolled.
A potential problem with Boggle Bowl comes from how equally matched the two players/teams are. If one player/team is significantly better then the other player/team, the game will become a blowout. The better player/team will have control over the token and will easily be able to score points. This could take some of the fun out of the game since if the players/teams aren’t equally matched it will be easy to tell who will win the game. This problem also exists if the players/teams are too equally matched. If both players/teams are equally matched there could be a situation where the token just goes back and forth and really makes no progress in either direction. This could lead to the game dragging on for far too long until one player/team goes on a streak and wins several rounds in a row.
One complaint I have with the game is that it was designed as a two player game and forces you to play in teams if you have more than two players. There is no problem if you only have two players but I don’t think the game really works that well as a team game. With two or more players on a team it is quite easy to figure out how to use most of the dice. I wonder how the game would play with four players all playing alone with each player having a different side of the board as their scoring zone. This would create some interesting decisions regarding movement since players might end up having to move the token in a way that helps another player to prevent another player from scoring. This could make the tug of war situation even worse though and the token may end up just staying in the center of the board for the whole game.
As a whole Boggle Bowl is not a bad game but is a very average word game. It is fun to play and there is not anything particularly wrong with the game. The game relies quite a bit on luck, the board movement doesn’t seem to matter as much as you would like, and a player that is better at word games will almost always win the game. Despite these problems Boggle Bowl is still fun and people who enjoy word games should enjoy it. The biggest problem with the game in my opinion is that it is just another very average word game.
If you are not a fan of word games Boggle Bowl won’t change your mind. If you like word games though I think you will enjoy Boggle Bowl. If you can get a good deal on the game I think it is worth picking up.
If you would like to purchase Boggle Bowl you can purchase it on Amazon here.