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Game Review

The Cr*sword game with a wildcard

Ages 8 and up
Game © 2001 Peter Roizen
game in play

2 Players30+ minutes


Players place letters on the board to form words. New words must interconnect with the previously placed words as in a crossword puzzle. In addition, there are special letters "stars," that take the place of one or more letters in a word.


All gameplay notes are based off of the PC version of this game. The board game version has not yet been published.

Players draw seven letters each. The player who starts must place a word of at least four letters in the center of the board (horizontally or vertically.) After placing his/her word, the player draws replacement letters from the pool. The player scores the points for each letter, plus any points based on the placement on the board (double word score, double letter score, etc.)

The next player must place letters for their word using at least one letter that has been already placed on the board. If the new word placed touches any other words on the board, all touching letters must also form a word. Points are tallied after each word is placed -- for every word formed. Again, the player draws replacement letters after completing their word.

If a player can place all seven letters in one word, they receive an additional 40 point bonus.

The game ends when no letters remain to be drawn, and a player places his/her last letter -- or no player can place any of their remaining letters, or time expires.

Sounds like Scrabble, right? Here's the main differences: The board has different values, including "turn to wild" and "lose 20 points"; Additionally, there are special letters: stars; and finally, you can challenge your opponents words -- but you can lose points if you are wrong!

Star letters can be used in the place of 1 or more letters. For instance, "S*T" could be SIT, SAT, SOOT, STOUT, or some other combination that starts with S and ends with T (and if you thought of a naughty word, shame on you!).

game in play

If you want to see better screenshots go to

preview shot of the board game version

Winning Conditions:

  • The player who has the most points at the end of the game wins.

game in play

Our Opinion:

Thumbs Up!This is obviously a variant of Scrabble. However, it is definitely not the same game. Aside from both being crossword games, the two games are very different.

As with Scrabble, the most challenging part of the game is finding a good placement for the words that you make. However, the changes to the board and wild letters will either make you love or hate this version. The board cleverly added some spaces that make a player lose points -- this means that you enhance some of your placement strategies by offering good, usable letters next to these dangerous places to stop your opponent from scoring too high. In a sense, it adds some agression to the game -- controlling places that force your opponent to lose points offers some chess like strategy to the game.

The wild letters or "stars" are quite the novelty. With practice, they are deadly and really help score a lot of points. They also introduce the ability to bluff about a word. If you cannot come up with a good word, bluff! You can get points if your opponent doesn't challenge you. These pieces, however, pose the biggest problem to me when the game moves from a PC application to a board game. The PC application handles a lot of work keeping score and hiding the mechanics of the rules surrounding the wild letters. On a board game, it may not feel as cleanly designed. But, that will be a topic when the actual board game version arrives.

Competitive Scrabble players MUST have a dictionary on hand, and must have a good vocabulary. Our least favorite Scrabble games revolve around finding a word in a dictionary -- but in this game, the dictionary is there purely for challenges. If you don't like to challenge your may lose because they can steal points with junk words and carefully placed wild letters. The online dictionary is the law of this game -- at least online, the lookups go faster. This will be another problem translating it to a board game version: will it provide a dictionary?

This is a good game that can be played over and over -- the PC version is lacking because you can only play two players, and they must be on two separate internet capable PCs -- it's a free demo, so live with it and hope the board version is published soon.

Where to buy:

It's not yet available in board game form, but you can get a free two player PC version at (note that it is NOT a ".com"). You can also try a few puzzles on this site to see how it's played. The board game wil likely cost about $20 when it is released.

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