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Game Review

The 3-dimentsional word game

Ages 8 and up
Milton Bradley
Game © 1988, 1997 Milton Bradley Company
game in play
Uncle's Games link

2-4 Players60+ minutes


A simplified form of Scrabble -- where players may place letters on top of existing letters to form new words.


To begin, the empty board is placed on the table. All of the letter tiles are placed in a box face down. Players each draw one letter. The player with the letter closest to "A" will play first.

All players draw a total of seven letters form the box. The starting player must create a word 2 letters or more in length, and it must be placed in the center of the board. (There are 4 squares that are slightly differently colored -- one of these must be covered to start the game.)

For each player's turn, the player will place one or more tiles onto the board -- the letters placed must be in the same row or column. The score is added to the player's total, and then the player draws letters from the box so that they have seven tiles again.

The game ends when one of these conditions occurs:

  • All letter tiles have been played.

  • No player can make a word with their remaining tiles.

  • All players pass their turn in consecutive order.

When the game ends, players lose 5 points for each tile they have not played.

The complexity of this game lies within placing words and scoring. Like Scrabble, letters may be placed to have words read horizontally or vertically. Letters that are placed adjacent to existing words must also create a valid new word. In addition to this, players may stack letters onto existing words.

When stacking, players may only stack one letter per stack per turn, and stacking a letter onto the SAME letter (e.g. "A" upon "A") is not allowed. Further, letters may be stacked to at most 5 high. Finally, at least one letter from the original word must remain to form the new word with stacks.

After the word is placed, scoring is as follows:

  • If the word has all letters stacked only 1 high -- 2 points per letter.

  • If the word contains stacked letters -- score 1 point per letter. Include any letters under stacks in your count.

  • If you use all seven of your letters, score a bonus 20 points.

  • If multiple words are created, score each word individually.

There are rules for passing your turn and exchanging tiles -- I am intentionally not including those here.

the game in play 2

words on top of words...

Winning Conditions:

The player with the most points wins.

words words words  

Our Opinion:

Thumbs Up!I consider this game Scrabble-lite. It is strategically easier to play than Scrabble, but it plays well on its own.

Personally, I like this game better than it's predecessor -- there are no special scoring squares to confound word placement, so the game moves along at a much faster pace. Scoring is simple, all of the letters get the same point value -- with the exception of "Qu". The removal of the scoring complexities and the addition of stacking opens the game up to a much younger audience and a more casual audience. Upwords does not strive to be a national tournament type of game... but it is a good primer for Scrabble.

This is a good game for anyone who likes word games. The math in scoring is hardly complex. The speed of play is good, and the rules are basic enough to learn quickly. If you didn't like Scrabble because you always lost... this is the equalizer game for you.

Where to buy:

Popular department stores like Target or WalMart carry this game as well as toy stores like Kay Bee Toys. The cost ranges from $10 to $20. Shop around for the best price.

Uncle's Games link

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