Scrabble used to be the only letter-tile game in town, but a decade ago, Bananagrams entered the playing field, and it’s quickly become one of the most recognizable names in puzzle gaming.
And I’ll let you in on a little secret: while I’d known them by reputation, I’d never actually played a round of Bananagrams. So when presented with the opportunity to try out the newest member of the Bananagrams family — Bananagrams Wild Tiles — I was definitely looking forward to putting my puzzly skills to the test.
For those unfamiliar with Bananagrams, it’s a word formation game with a sense of urgency and freedom. Your goal is to use all the tiles in your hand to build words that cross and interact as they would in a standard letter-tile game, but with no board to restrict the words. And your opponents are building their own grids at the same time. It’s a race to complete your grid by arranging and rearranging the letters, putting your vocabulary and anagram chops on display.
Bananagrams Wild Tiles offers a spin on the familiar Bananagrams formula — there are six Wild Tiles, depicting the Bananagrams monkey mascot, and these tiles can represent any letter of the alphabet. That’s right, these are six get-out-of-trouble free cards in monkey tile form.
This seems like a minor change, but it makes a major difference in gameplay, since one Wild Tile can add serious adaptability to your hand, upping the stakes.
When playing with fewer players, I highly recommend limiting the tile pile to 3 Wild Tiles; otherwise, the game goes too quickly. (My friends and I also introduced another variant playing style, only allowing one Wild Tile — the one attached to the zipper of the Bananagrams bag — which was awarded to whoever made the most horrendous banana/monkey pun during the first round.)
Bananagrams Wild Tiles is a perfect gateway game to introduce puzzles both younger and older who might’ve been put off by the more rigid, more intimidating aesthetic of Scrabble. With its lighthearted packaging, free-form gameplay, and endless replayability, this one is a winner.
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