Originally released back in 2019 Letter Jam is based around an interesting premise. The party word game has become quite popular in recent years as some of the best party games seem to utilize some sort of word mechanic. What is unique about Letter Jam is that it combines these mechanics with a deduction mechanic. Instead of figuring out who committed the crime or someone’s secret identity, players need to figure out the secret letters in front of themselves. This is done by players giving each other clues where players have to deduce their own letter based on the other letters used in the clue.
Year: 2019 | Publisher: Czech Games Edition | Designer: Ondra Skoupý | Artist: Dávid Jablonovský, František Sedláček, Lukáš Vodička, Michaela Zaoralová
Genres: Deduction, Party, Word
Ages: 10+ | Number of Players: 2-6 | Length of Game: 45 minutes
Difficulty: Light-Moderate | Strategy: Moderate | Luck: Light-Moderate
Components: 64 letter cards, wildcard, 8 number chips, 6 red tokens, 9 green tokens, 6 card stands, 6 pencils, 4 setup cards, guessing sheets, instructions
Objective of Letter Jam
The objective of Letter Jam is for each player to figure out their secret letters. These letters spell out their secret word. Each player needs to figure out their secret letters and spell a word by the end of the game.
Creating the Secret Words
Shuffle the letter cards together (excluding the wildcard). Then divide up the cards as evenly as possible between all of the players.
All of the players will look at their cards. They will try to form a five letter word with the letters. When they have created a word, they will discard the rest of their cards. Should a player have a hard time forming a word with the letters they were dealt, they can look through the cards that the other players discarded.
Note: If you want to make the game easier you could have players form four or three letter words. To make the game more difficult you could have players create six or seven letter words.
Once everyone has formed their five letter word, they will mix up the letters. They will pass these cards face down to the player on their right. This will be the secret word that the player has to try and figure out throughout the game.
Setup for Letter Jam
Every card not used for the secret words will be shuffled to form the draw pile for the game.
Each player will arrange the cards they received for their secret word into a row face down in front of themselves. They will take the leftmost card from their row and insert it into their card holder. They cannot look at the letter on the card as they do this. The letter on the card in the holder should face away from the player so everyone but them can see it.
Each player takes a pencil and a guessing sheet. You should fold the guessing sheet in half to block the other players from seeing your guesses.
Select the setup card corresponding to the number of players playing the game. Place it in the middle of the table and place red and green clue tokens on the corresponding spaces.
If there are not six players in the game, you will set up non-player stands for the missing players. The setup card will show symbols along the bottom of the card with a number inside a rectangle. Take a number of cards from the draw pile equal to each number and place them face down behind one of the unused player stands. Underneath these stacks you should place a green clue token. The top card from each non-player stack will be turned face up and placed inside the associated stand. All of the players may look at these cards.
Playing Letter Jam
Letter Jam is played over a number of rounds. Each round consists of two main steps.
- Giving A Clue
- Deciphering the Clue
Giving A Clue
Each round begins with all of the players looking at the cards that are visible to them on the table. They will try to create a word clue that uses the letters that they can see. Obviously they can’t use the letter on their own card as they can’t see it.
Discussing the Clue
Once everyone has come up with a clue, the players will discuss which clue should be used this round. You must follow these rules when discussing which clue should be given.
- When discussing you may not give any specific information about any specific player’s letter.
- You may not say what type of clue that you will give.
- Each player may say the number of letters there are in their clue.
- You may say how many players’ letters the clue references without saying specifically who it will help.
- The number of non-player stands that a clue uses may also be given to the other players. You may not specifically mention which non-player letters you will use though.
- You may say how many bonus letters that your clue will use, but you can’t specify which ones. This includes saying whether your clue uses the wildcard.
Choosing Who Will Give Their Clue
After everyone has given information about the clue, the players will choose which of the players will give their clue.
The player that is chosen to give their clue will take a clue token from the setup card to indicate that they gave a clue. The color of token you will take depends on the number of players.
4, 5, or 6 players
For your first clue you will take a red clue token.
After your first token you will take green tokens. You may only take green tokens from the leaves until all of the red tokens have been taken. If you cannot take a green token, you may not give a clue this turn.
For your first two clues you will take a red clue token.
For every clue after your first two, you will take a green token. You may only take green tokens from the leaves until all of the red tokens have been taken. If you can’t take a green token, you may not give a clue this turn.
For your first three clues you will take a red clue token. You may only take tokens from the leaves until both players have given at least three clues. At this point the green tokens in the middle of the flower will become available. If you cannot take a green token on your turn, you may not give a clue this turn.
Spelling the Clue
The chosen player will then give their clue to the other players. They will take the number tokens from the middle of the table. Starting with the first letter in the clue word, they will place the corresponding number token in front of the card for each letter in the word clue they came up with. If a letter is used in the word multiple times, you will place each corresponding numbered token in front of the letter.
In addition to using the visible letters on the table, you may also use the wildcard in the middle of the table. The wildcard can represent any letter, but only one letter. If the same letter appears in the word multiple times, they can place multiple tokens on the wildcard. The cluegiver may not tell the other players what letter the wildcard represents.
Deciphering the Clue
All of the players will look at the number tokens. If any number tokens were placed in front of their letter, the clue giver has given them information about their letter.
Each player that has received information this round will write down on their sheet the letters that were given by the clue giver. When it gets to the player’s own number they will write in a question mark as they don’t know what that letter is.
If a player used the wildcard, players should use a star symbol to indicate that the letter was wild as they don’t know for sure what letter it represents.
After you have written the clue down on your sheet, you should try to figure out what word the cluegiver spelt out. By figuring out what the clue giver was trying to spell out, you can figure out what your hidden letter is. You should write down any potential options in the right section of the row you wrote the clue on.
At this point you will decide whether you think you know your current letter. If you are unsure, you can keep the same letter face up in front of you for the next round.
If you think you know what letter is face up in front of you, you will write it down in the next space at the bottom of your guessing sheet. You will then remove the card from your card holder and turn it face down in front of you. Make sure you do this without looking at the card’s letter. You will then insert the card to the right of your previous card into the card holder (without looking at it). Before taking this action you should be confident that you know the letter in front of you, as after you move on you can never go back to a card that you have turned over.
Setup for Next Round
Before staring the next round, a few things must be done.
If the clue giver used any of the non-player letters in their clue, discard the corresponding cards from their stands. Take the next card from the corresponding stack and add it to the card holder.
All of the number tokens are returned to the center of the table.
The letters on the non-player stands will be treated like any other letter in the game. Players may use as many or as few of these cards as they want.
When the letter from a non-player stand is used, you will discard it. You will place the next card from its stack into the stand.
If all of the cards have been used from a non-player stand’s stack, the green clue token that is revealed will be added to the setup card. This will give the players another clue that they can give during the game.
After this point, whenever the non-player stand needs a new card it will take a card from the draw pile.
Towards the end of the game some of the players may think they have figured out all of their letters. Once they turn over their last card, they will take a card from the draw pile to act as their new letter. They will place this card into their stand without looking at it.
When players give clues they may use this new letter. When this letter is used in a clue, the player who controls it may guess what they think the letter is. If they guess the correct letter, it will become a bonus letter. It will be placed in the middle of the table along with the wildcard. If you guess incorrectly, the card will be discarded. In either case the player will draw a new card from the draw pile for their next letter card.
Bonus letters can be used in two ways in the game.
A bonus card can be used like the wildcard when giving a clue. It can only be used as the letter printed on the card. Once used, you will discard the bonus card.
Bonus letters can otherwise be used at the end of the game.
Letter Jam End Game
A game of Letter Jam can end in one of two ways.
If the players run out of clue tokens, the game will end as the players can give no more clues.
Otherwise the players could decide to end the game early if the players don’t feel like they need anymore clues.
Spelling A Word
At this point each player will look at their guessing sheet which hopefully tells them what letters are face down in front of them.
Each player will use this information to try and spell a word with their letter cards (without looking at them). They will rearrange the cards to form the word. Players can try to form the secret word that the player gave them at the beginning of the game. Otherwise they can create any other word as long as it is at least as long as the word they were originally given.
If players are unsure of one or more of their letters or they want to form a longer word, they can choose to use the wildcard or one of the bonus cards that weren’t used. Each bonus letter and the wildcard can only be used by one player. To replace one of their original letters, they place the new card on top of it.
Once everyone thinks they have spelled a word, the players will take turns revealing their words. A player has succeeded if they spell a real word that is at least as long as the original secret word. If all of the players successfully spell a word correctly, all of the players win the game.
All of the players will lose if one or more players fail to correctly spell a word.
Alternative Scoring for Letter Jam
Letter Jam also has an alternative way of determining how well you did.
For each incorrectly spelled word you will score one point for each letter you were able to guess correctly.
For correctly spelled words you will score points as follows:
- Multiple the original length of the word the player was given by three.
- Add one point for each letter used beyond the original length of the word.
The team will also score one point for each green clue token left on the setup card that wasn’t used.
You will determine the total score from all of the players. The players will compare their score to the chart on the back of the setup card to determine how well they did.