Wörtersee / Word Sea


Published by Kosmos
Designed by Manfred Ludwig
Translated by Mike Schloth

2-4 players
20-30 minutes
25 DM


Each player takes a number of boats depending on the number of players:
2 players 5x red 5x Yellow
3 players 4x red 4x Yellow 4x green.
4 players 3x red 3x Yellow 3x green 3x white All remaining boats

Punch out all of the letters, flip them letter-side down, and mix them up. Place Cover 1 on the table. Align " The Board" on top of Cover 1. Now place all of the red-backed letters into the holes. Place them face down and distribute them evenly. The red-backed letters are vowels, the blue-backed letters are consonants. The "Union Jack" - backed letters are letters more often found in English than German. You fill in the rest of the holes with the blue- and "Union Jack"- backed letters.

When all of the holes have been filled, Align Cover 2 on top of The Board. Keeping a firm grip on this Wortersee sandwich, flip it, and set it back on the table. To start the game, one player removes the top cover as another flips the sand timer.

Simultaneously, all players start searching for words in the jumble. When you think that you have found a word, place one of your boats between the first and second letters of the word with the bow of your boat pointing towards the second letter.

By placing one of your boats between two letters you have reserved the two letters for your own use. You don't have to say what the word is when you place the boat. That is done later.

Two boats may be between the same two letters if they point in different directions.

Once placed, boats may not be moved!

When the sand runs out the round is over. Whoever notices first should shout "STOP!". Now no more boats may be placed on the board.

Beginning with the player who shouted "STOP!" each player in turn spells out their words. Each letter in each word earns you one point.

Scoring will be easier if you remember to remove the boats after scoring the points for each word.

The game lasts four rounds. Most points wins and their is no tie breaker [we'll have to fix that!].

What words are allowed? It's your standard set of restrictions: no proper names, no hyphens, no apostrophes, no acronyms, etc... Plural or singular forms are allowed [but of the same word?]

You may use the same letter more than once in the same word, but you must connect to at least two other letters before reusing a letter. So you can't, to use the German word example, spell EDEL by moving from the "E" to the "D" and then back to the same "E".

If this seems too restrictive, relax. One of the variants allows you to reuse letters any way you like as long as there is at least one intervening letter. No stopping on a letter for a two-count to spell stuff like "SPELL" and "STUFF" by using the same "L" and "F" respectively. (Unless you want to make another variant).

That's about it.

The variants aren't too variant.

The MORE DIFFICULT GAME variant just allows you to reuse a letter after visiting only one intervening letter.

To play the SIMPLER GAME variant, allow the timer to run out twice; and each letter chip may be used in the same word once only.

There is the ENGLISH WORDS variant which, because I assume most of you will be playing it with English words, I have incorporated into the basic game. If you've forgotten, after evenly distributing the red-backed vowels, fill in the remaining holes with blue-and "Union Jack"-backed letters in whatever proportion you like.

The JOKER variant. When placing the letters in the holes of The Board, place one or two (or more -- what the heck) face up. Now, after flipping and removing the cover you'll see the backs of the letters you placed face up. These are the jokers and they count as any letter you like.

There is also a SOLO variant which is pretty obvious and a KIDDIE HANDICAP variant which I just didn't feel like translating as I don't think I'll be playing this much with Alan. So sue me.

[The letter "Q" is a "Union Jack"-backed letter which is fine but the Germans forgot that most English words with a Q follow the Q with a U (I'd like to say "all English words" but I'm sure that there is a word master out there who'll rattle off a dozen counterexamples). This makes Q a pretty useless letter if it doesn't happen to land next to a U. I suggest leaving it out of the mix or using it as a Joker or declaring that the Q chip can be used as a "QU".]

The Game Cabinet - editor@gamecabinet.com - Ken Tidwell