This review of Word on the Street is SERIOUSLY over due and it’s all because one of my favorite playtesters doesn’t like the game. Why? Because I always annihilate him when the two of us play. Heh heh heh. Seriously though, Word on the Street is a great game for word game geeks. In fact, it just won a Mensa award this year! (congrats!)
The game is essentially a “tug of war” with letters. There are 17 consonant tiles placed in a line down the center of the board, which is the “median” of the street. On a turn you flip a category card and have 30 seconds to think of a word within that category that includes consonant tiles still on the board. (Vowels are freebies) For each letter in your word, you move that consonant tile one space closer to your “curb.” Once a tile is moved off the board it’s yours to keep. The first team to collect eight tiles wins the game. It’s really an easy concept to grasp after playing one round. I even helped the wonderful folks at Out of the Box demo the game to a buyer during Toy Fair.
Also at Toy Fair got to have dinner with a bunch of brilliant inventors, including the inventor of Word on the Street, Jack Degnan. He was nice enough to send me a photo of his prototype (always cool to see) and tell me how he came up with the game. In his own words…
Word on the Street was a game idea I had about five years ago. The original thought was for this to be a card game. Players would turn over a category and try to use the letter-cards in their hand to try to spell a word that fit the category. It was a little tough and not quite as fun as I thought it would be…but I knew the concept had some potential. About three years later I pulled it off the shelf and decided to make a board game out of it. The first version was pushing letters toward a finish line and then the idea of tug-of-war ACROSS the board rather than DOWN the board came to me. I wanted to call it Tug-of-Words, but the name was taken so I came up with the street idea. The rest is history.
In truth Jack’s just moonlighting as game inventor, his real job is working at a clinic for HIV research in San Diego. So success couldn’t have come to a nicer guy. And to sweeten the deal, this year Out of the Box has introduced a Junior version of the game. It is a little bit smaller and includes vowels too. I was a little worried about this at first — what happens when someone captures the E and the A?! But it wasn’t really an issue (except when some snot played “FREEZER” – and this time it wasn’t me.)
Word on the Street JUNIOR Stats:
~$20 at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble
20-30 Minutes (we omitted the use of the timer for this version game – too much pressure on the young ones)
Ages 8 and up