Word Winder: It’s just as good as I hoped it would be!

Word Winder: It’s just as good as I hoped it would be!

Way back in my ChiTag roundup article I mentioned that I was I excited about a new, not-on-the-shelves-yet game called Word Winder.  Well guess what?  It’s on store shelves now! (and it’s also a hit in Russia! hence the cool box above!)

This past winter I got play with the inventors at the bar where they came up with the idea (and got my butt kicked several times) and a few weeks ago I got a chance to try it out with some less experienced players after a SIGNED copy got mailed to me!  (Note: David Hoyt signed the first 10,000 copies – yep, he’s nuts but wouldn’t it be cool to have one?)

Word Winder is actually 2 games in 1 box: SideWinder and RaceWinder.  Both games use the 16 2-sided tiles that have letters arranged in a 4×4 grid and see-through colored chips.  When playing SideWinder you arrange the 16 tiles in a 4×4 grid to create the playing board and the goal of the game is to create a path of words from one side of the board to the opposite side.  So this could be top to bottom or from the left to right.  You’re looking for words Boggle-style in which each letter of the word must be adjacent to the letter before and after it and you can’t reuse letters within the same word.  So when it’s your turn you find a word and place you’re colored chips over each letter, and these letters are considered yours for the rest of the game.  They can’t be stolen by anyone else, but you can reuse them in one of your future words.  The great thing about Sidewinder is that you can find words anywhere on the board and throughout the game you can be somewhat sneaky about your strategy and it allows you to “block” other players.

RaceWinder is the game my testers liked the best.  You lay out the tiles so they’re in a long 2 x 8 column and designate one short side as the top.  The goal is to be the first player or team to get their chain of words to reach the bottom.  Everyone’s first word must include a letter from the top row of letters and after that their words must include a letter adjacent to one of their earlier words.

Overall, if you like word games I really think you’re going to enjoy Word Winder.  Personally I’m a huge Boggle fan – and while this takes a little bit longer than Boggle to play (especially SideWinder) it’s got some great player interaction, which you don’t really get in Boggle.


Now because I’m lucky enough to know the inventors of this game, I’ve asked them how they came up with it.  To give you a brief introduction of the characters involved, here are their quick 1-sentence bios:

David L. Hoyt is the world’s most syndicated game and puzzle creator: his games, including Jumble™ and Word Roundup™, appear in over 700 newspapers and are played in print and online by more than 7 million people every day.

Graeme Thomson is the co-founder of the Chicago based games publishing company HL Games.

Steve Bullock is the President of Adveractive, Inc., the company that has developed the world’s most popular digital daily games and puzzles since 1995.

And here’s what they had to say:


How did you come up with Word Winder?

Graeme: I’m not sure we did.  I think it came up with us.

David: It’s like it was always there, the perfect word game just waiting to find the right people to help it spring into life.

Graeme: I remember the very moment when it happened.  David and I were in a bar trying out ideas with rough, prototype letter boards, as we had done a number of times since meeting at Chitag. Using the visual logic of David’s Word Roundup™ brand of online games, we were using transparent chips to cover letters and make words, when David said, “What if I do…this?” And I said, “And how about if I do…that?”  And we tried it.  And we stared at it. And we stared at each other. And, suddenly, we felt like a pair of midwives.

David: We played 3 or 4 more times.  By the 2nd game, our table was surrounded by people pointing, suggesting words, joining in, having fun. I clicked a photo of the game board and sent it to Steve, called him and said, “You won’t believe what is happening here.”  Steve flew to Chicago and we spent two days locked in a hotel room.  When we emerged, WORD WINDER had become an entire game system: at least a dozen different board games, a series of multi-player and solitaire digital games, a puzzle book series, and more.

Graeme: Of course, there was much, much more hand-crafting, and fine tuning of the word layouts on the boards; programming and re-programming the app; artwork, graphics, partnering with giants like Merriam-Webster, and always play testing, and play testing, and play testing until WORD WINDER™ allowed us to show it to the world.

David: Like Graeme said, We didn’t come up with it. It came up with us.  And we’re very honored.


Word Winder Stats:
~$20 Amazon and other game stores
2+ players (up to 3 individuals or more players on up to 3 teams)
20+ minutes (can be much longer if you have really slow players)
Ages 8 and up (I might say 10+)

And for those of you who turn into addicts you can also buy Word Winder puzzle books and app!