Publisher: Educational Insights, Coiledspring Games
Designer: Jack Degnan
Artist: John Kovalic, Max Winter Osterhaus, Cathleen Quinn-Kinney, Matt Roussel, Manuel Sanchez
Release date: 2009 (reprinted 2015)
2 – 8 Players
Favouritefoe #favouritefoefunlearning score: 9/10
Please click below to see my one minute rapid review video of Word on the Street
Do you know that feeling when a game “fits”? When it comes off the shelf, on to the table, and it just works for everybody playing? Grins spread, fingers dance, and eyes sparkle……. Well, this week, those smiles were as wide as crescent moons as we got to play Word on the Street from Educational Insights and Coiledspring Games!
If you haven’t heard of it before, Word on the Street is a game which manages to make spelling fun. Not just fun, but a tug-of-war vocabulary battle between two, or teams of, players. And although Mini meeple was drawn to the fun, kiddie-centric illustrations on the front of the box, it tested our brains in a great, fun way too!
And as with all great family games, set up is completed in just a few minutes. The large central “street” board is placed down the centre of the table, and the 17 matching letter tiles (being all the English consonants except for J, Q, X,and Z) placed on top. Then the 216 category cards are popped into the handy holder (which can be used to store them in the box once packed away again – score!), and a 30 second timer is then set down. And that’s it – you are ready to play Word on the Street!
Please click below to see my one minute rapid review video of Word on the Street CLICK HERE FOR RAPID REVIEW VIDEO
Rules of the Road!
The object and the rules of the game are also super straightforward. On your turn, you (or your team) will select a category card at random. Then, you will have 30 seconds to come up with an answer and make your move!
And move you do! Spelling out the word you or your teammates choose, you slide the relevant letters from the central reservation to your side of the board. Use the letter once, you slide the tile one square. Use it twice, and it moves two. Any letters which are in the word when spelt but are not on the board get skipped. So, for example, “something in a jar” could be “Jam”. The “J” would move one square, as would the “M”, but the “A” would simply be missed out.
Once a letter tile moves three times and ends up off the board, it is “captured” by the receiving team. Words can continue to be spelt using captured letters, but they now belong to the opposing player/team. And, that is important because the first player or team to capture 8 tiles wins the game!
Learning amidst the Laughter!
Now, as you might have guessed, no player is going to want to see the letters slide off the street. And so the tug-of-war begins! What starts off as a free choice and a tile-sliding-bonanza then begins to narrow.
You’ll suddenly find yourself wracking your brains trying to think of words which will move those letters teetering on the edge of the board back to the safe zone and closer to yours! Or move some fresh out of the space letters quickly onto your side in order to gain a home advantage! And with the 30 second timer counting down, the pressure is on! I say pressure, but in reality the tension is that head-tapping, forehead rapping, laughter type of brain strain!
You also have the right to challenge your opponent/opposing team if you think they have got the word choice or the spelling a little wonky! And if it turns out to be a valid objection (democracy, or failing that, a dictionary, in action!), back those letters go!
Another great aspect of this game is that you don’t have to be a walking, taking vocabulary whizz to enjoy Word on the Street. With double sided category cards split into easier (yellow) and more challenging (blue), this game is wonderfully accessible and versatile. Indeed, players of different ages and abilities can play together, matching their own level to the game in play. Short, easy to spell words can often be the ones to slide a teetering letter off the board, and for younger players especially, that moment when they capture a letter and utter a “yessssss” is superb!
And the flexibility doesn’t stop there. With official variants for classroom based play and rules to help younger players, as well as the opportunity to really make up any house rules/scoring conditions you like, Word on the Street is a fantastic example of learning hiding out amongst the fun.
Mini-meeple loves it when he spells a word that allows him to slide letters. And the excitable air-fist-pump that shoots up and down when he rescues a tile from the edge of my side, or lifts one off of his completely, is infectious! Amidst the letter shifting, tug-of-warring take-that moments, however, he is practising and expanding his vocabulary. He is developing his social skills and growing in confidence – especially when he goes in for a challenge and I have to justify my choice He is also learning to win and lose with grace (well, sometimes!). And the best thing of all is that he doesn’t even realise any of this. Or if he does, he is not saying! To me, he is enjoying a fun game which just so happens to have words in it!
I am mindful that with Mini-meeple still very young, I have to make sure that he does not fall into thinking that words don’t actually have vowels or the missing consonants. Sneakily testing him in the kitchen today, however, he still spelt “jam” with an “A”, however, so I think we are all good on that front!
I should say a few words about the contents of the box. The central board, letters, and cards are all good quality, and the card holder is a sturdy little box which sits inside the main box. there is no lid, but the board nestles on top when it is on the shelf, reducing the risk of cards falling out. Cardboard edges around the tiles may fluff over time, but honestly, that is just a testament to how popular this game could be in your house.
The 217 category cards are also really bright and easy to read, and the levels are generally in line with their target difficulty. But, whilst over two hundred of them sound like a lot, we do go through a fair chunk in a 30 minute game, so you might see the same ones come up over repeated games. Given that the letters are likely to be in different spots on the board each time a familiar card reappears, however, the consequence of using the same word is going to cause a dissimilar effect.
We also really like the board illustrations. There is a lot going on down this particular street, don’t get me wrong, but once the letters were matched to the initial spaces on it, we didn’t find it distracting or difficult to navigate. Mini-meeple actually plays a little meta-game, trying to spell the things he sees on it!
Overall, we are incredibly impressed with Word on the Street, and it is sitting high up on the #favouritefoefunlearning scale. Educational Insights have over 50 years of experience in seamlessly melding learning with play, and this game is a shining example of that. With their distribution partner here in the UK being such a phenomenal presence in the marketplace, I am also hopeful that Coiledspring will be able to spread the word about this lovely, family level party game!
If you would like to check out my 1 minute rapid video review of Word of the Street, please click here
[please note that a copy of this game was kindly provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review but any opinions expressed are my own]