I’m a bit of a word geek, which is why I try use the word “defenestrate” conversationally at least once a week. So when a game like Letterpress lets me fling those words as a weapon to directly assault an opponent, you’ve got my interest. Add a strategy element, area control, tactical placement and surprise attacks, well, you have one more free word game that’s got me hooked.
Letterpress is, on the most basic level, a competitive word game like Boggle for two players. Random letters are strewn about a 5×5 board and you can pick any letters you want to make as big a word as possible. Every letter that you use becomes your color and earns you one point. However, on your opponent’s turn, they can steal those letters (and points) by using them in their own word. The game ends when every letter has been claimed by a player, or both players pass.
On a more advanced level, Letterpress resembles the classic Japanese board game, Go. That’s because you can create areas that are protected from being stolen by surrounding them with your color. Thus, it is essential that you carefully choose which words you want to play based on the area you want to conquer, not just the size. Valuable assets like vowels are intensely contested, and you’ll have to defend them tooth and nail lest your opponent invade like a horde of Mongol word mavens.
There’s also plenty of opportunity to turn things around. Since the game ends when the last letter is claimed, you might hold off on a big word, waiting to use it when you can eke out a slight lead while taking that last space or two. It makes for exciting matches even when you’re behind. But the first player can occasionally get too much of an advantage if the board is set up just right for him.
The free version of the game lets you play up to two matches simultaneously. Since players can take as much time as they like with their turns, you might be tempted to pay $1 to unlock the full version and up the number of matches you can juggle. But, since there’s currently no tracking of your wins and losses (which should really be amended), I don’t hesitate to quit any match that takes a little too long.