Scrabble is arguably the most popular word-based board game in the world, but there are plenty more similar games to choose for if you or your loved ones would like to have a little bit of variety when it comes to the games you are playing. One of the most well-known alternatives to Scrabble is Boggle, which is often considered easier and faster to play. So, how do you play Boggle? To help you understand the rules of the game, we are providing you with a guide on how to play it, as well as some useful strategies to win a round. But first, we must know where the concept for Boggle came from, as its origins will help us understand how such a simple game can be a complex one for veterans.
Boggle was invented by a man named Alan Turoff, and he initially presented his idea to the Parker Brothers in 1971. Parker Brothers is an American board game manufacturer who published some of the best board games in history, such as Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, Clue, and Bop It. The company first rejected Turoff’s idea, as they deemed it too similar to Scrabble; however, they later changed their mind and packaged the game along with two others in a bundle and released it in 1972.
When Boggle was launched in the bundle, it was significantly more popular than the two games that it came bundled with. Because of its increasing popularity, Parker Brothers decided to release it as an individual board game in 1976.
For this Boggle guide, we will be using as reference the Classic Edition, which has a 4×4 cube grid. Before the start of the game, each player would need to have a piece of paper and a pen. Then, all players must choose who will shake the Boggle cube. If players can’t decide, they can roll one die, and whoever gets the highest number will shake the cube.
Once the shaker has been chosen, he or she will then place the smaller letter cubes inside the bigger cube in random order. After the letter cubes have been placed, take the translucent lid and use it to close the cube grid. Then, shake the cube so that the letters will be scrambled inside. If you are the shaker, make sure that all the letter cubes would fall into the holes on the grid.
Before opening the lid, take out the mini hourglass included in the box and tilt it vertically so that all the sand inside it will be on one side. Open the lid of the cube grid once all the sand of the hourglass is at the bottom, then flip the hourglass when you are all ready to start the game.
For the Classic Edition, the hourglass is set at three minutes, so you would have that amount of time to find words in the cube grid. If the hourglass is broken, you may use a timer and set it to three minutes as well.
The goal of Boggle is to chain letters to form words that are found in a dictionary, and the longer the words are, the more points you get for the round. Whoever gets the most points after three minutes wins the game.
Chaining letters to create words is relatively easy in Boggle, as you can connect them not only vertically and horizontally, but diagonally as well. However, the letters must be next to each other to form the word correctly, so you can’t skip a letter on the grid. In addition, the words that you will be forming should be at least three letters long, so words like “a,” “of,” and “I” aren’t allowed.
Furthermore, one letter cube cannot be used twice in a word. So, if you have a word that uses the same letter twice or more, such as “odor” or “none,” you can only use one “O” or “N” letter once, and if you wanted to use the letter again, you would have to find another connecting cube that has the same letter. Also, whenever there is a word that appears twice in the cube grid, like when the word “door” is found on the left side and the right side of the cube at the same time, you can only use the word once. However, if you can turn the word into a plural form, then you may use it twice, so long as the first word is singular while the other is plural. Connecting words can go in any direction, so you can connect the first two letters vertically, and then you may want the third letter to connect diagonally. Take note that there are also two-letter cubes included in the grid, wherein two letters are placed on one face of the letter cube, and they will also count as two letters while tallying points.
One strategy for winning the game is to write down longer words more than shorter words, as the latter would give you more points. You should also take advantage of the rule that you can create both singular and plural forms of the same word. However, the strategy of connecting as many short words as possible is also effective, since writing only longer words would also be a losing strategy since there is a ceiling to how many points you can get for each long word, which is only 11 points. No matter how long your words are, you will still get 11 points if it has more than seven letters.
To be sure that the words that you are writing on the paper are valid, you and the other players can read the dictionary, although it may take precious time while all of you are playing. It is better to study and read some words on the dictionary first before playing.
Besides words not found in the dictionary, other invalid words are proper nouns, abbreviations, or words that are not used in the English language.
When the timer runs out, all players must stop writing and place their pencils down on the table. Then, the player who shook the cube grid would then say all the words that he or she has written on the paper. If one or more players have written the same word that the shaker wrote, they would have to cross out that word. After the shaker is done reading, the player to the left or right will also say the words written on his or her paper. The process will repeat until all players have read their written words.
Afterward, each player would then tally the points he or she got by counting the letters used for the words that are not crossed out. Here is the list of the number of letters for the word and the equivalent score for how many letters were used:
- Three or four letters – 1 point
- Five letters – 2 points
- Six letters – 3 points
- Seven letters – 5 points
- More than seven letters – 11 points
Once all the players have tallied their scores, they would then have to see who got the most points. The winner of the round is the one who got the most points, but you can change the rules and let the game be a race to reach 50, 60, or more points by playing more rounds.
Popular Editions and Variants
Besides the Classic Edition, there are also variants of Boggle that you can play with your friends and family members. Here are some of the most notable editions of the word-based game.
Big Boggle, also known as Boggle Deluxe, features a large cube grid tray since it is 5×5 rather than 4×4. In addition to the larger tray, three-letter words are not allowed in the game, since it forces you to find longer words because of the bigger grid. The later editions of Boggle Deluxe include a convertible tray that can transform the 5×5 grid to a 4×4 grid if you want to play the classic rules.
A version of Boggle published by a company called Winning Moves Games, Super Big Boggle is an even larger game than Boggle Deluxe, as it has a 6×6 tray where three-letter words are also not allowed. This version includes a stop dice that cannot be used to form a word and can be jumped over, as well as a 4-minute hourglass for extended play.
Boggle Junior is a simplified version of the game wherein younger kids would have to guess the name of the animal or the object indicated on a special card. The name of the object is hidden on the card once it is placed on the tray, and it is up to the players to guess the correct word. Boggle Junior helps little kids learn more about spelling, and it can also enhance their memorization skills.
Boggle is an easy game that can be played by people of all ages, and no matter how good you are at spelling and word memorization, there is a chance for others who may not be as good as you to win a round as long as they are quick in finding words on the cube tray, which is what makes the game exciting since you wouldn’t know who would win.