HexaGram Word Game Preview - This is a prototype version and so does not represent the final quality of the game. The box and tiles will change in the final version.
No, it's not a new social media platform, HexaGram is an new word game and it's live on Kickstarter now (as off early September 2023).And it just may be my mums new favourite game!
HexaGram is essentially a new version of Scrabble. Letter tiles are placed onto the board in turn, forming words, and scoring points based on the letters used. There are, of course, a few twists. First, you can only ever put one letter on the board at a time. Second, you can add letters to empty spaces or on top of other letters. And third, the letters already placed on the board from previous turns can be on later turns moved onto other letters, so long as they move higher than they were before. And with those three rule changes, you have essentially learnt how to play the game!
There are four ways to play with these tiles, however the game I explained above is the main WORD version. The other three will be released as and when the game gains new backers. You can find information out about this here. But other than a few extra rules on plurals and tile placement, this is the full game. You can be playing within seconds.
I love Scrabble. I mean, who doesn't? It's a classic, and has stood the test of time for very good reason. However, it does massively favour players with a better vocabulary and that have learnt the tricks of the game, such as the double letter words! Restricting HexaGram to just one letter each time completely opens up the game to new players. Now, don't get me wrong, you will still have a massive advantage if you have a better vocabulary, and can learn the tricks, but there is not much word games can do about that. These people read all those books, they deserve the wins! But, the one tile per turn rule does mean most players will always be able to find a word, and they can do so with less intimidation.
In Scrabble, I find the expectation to build a longer word is quite high. And when you place a two or three letter word you feel bad. However, in this game, only being able to add one letter changes this. Now you can of course still create longer words, adding a letter onto the end of others already there, and you can build five, six, seven, even longer words. But this happens less frequently at the start of the game to ease players in. But most importantly, the expectation isn't there as you only ever have one tile to add. You are not sat there staring at your own seven tiles thinking what can I do with these seven tiles? Instead you are looking at all the available tiles and asking yourself, which single tile could you add to create the best word. It's a lot more accessible.
The building aspect is a lot of fun too. Being able to add tiles onto others opens the game up immensely. Turning GOAT into MOAT is not something you could do in Scrabble but is an obvious and fun way to score in HexaGram. And you don't just score the letter you add, you score all the letters in the word you created. Words can be created in any direction as long as they connect on the board. Tiles can be placed anyway, as long as they touch one of tile. If you can get an ING down, then the opportunity to create a lot of big high scoring words opens up for all players. You can use the letters on the board over and over. Which means turns can be quick, and scores can build fast. You know, exactly NOT like Scrabble!
The board is currently made up from the box which works well and makes set up a breeze. Simply open the box, empty out the tiles, flip the box and begin. If you get it onto a flat surface it works very well. What the designer Motti told me was that "the box is not the final product as we will redesign it to include the other items necessary to play all the four games in this box, however, it will be a box/board-game combination in the final product." Which is fun. I like boxes that are used in games, and that is certainly the case here.
The one thing that I think could be developed is the tiles themselves. It seems like a better tile that stacks in a more stable way would greatly enhance this game. The tiles can slide a bit of each other when you begin to stack. Which is fine. They don't ever slide all the way off. It does not affect the game. But, if you are like me, the aesthetics being compromised this way may bug you. Speaking to designer Motti, they said the plan in the final version is for the tiles to have a rougher bottom so they do not slide as much. Hopefully that fixes the issue.
It will be interesting to see how well this game does. The Kickstarter starter began without me even knowing. I had not seen this game anyway. But a friend sent me the link and I was intrigued. I am delighted I have had the chance to play this as I really enjoy it, and my mother, a big scrabble fan, loves this. And it has opened up the chance for us to play a lot of games together. We play Scrabble too, but it can be a bit long sometimes, and tough when she destroys me every game! Whereas HexaGram is a much quicker game. You can play until neither player can make a word, a points target or time limit, However you wish. You could do that in Scrabble too, but it would feel weird ending Scrabble with tiles still in the bag. The ruleset there is so established. But HexaGram is a new kid on the block, and with that, it brings fresh ways to play. Something very much needed in the word game market I would suggest.
I would encourage anyone who enjoys Scrabble and any word game to check this one out. It is up on Kickstarter until the beginning of October 2023, so if you are interested, move fast!