Shopping Cart -

Your cart is currently empty.
Continue Shopping
This website use cookies and similar technologies to improve the site and to provide customised content and advertising. By using this site, you agree to this use. To learn more, including how to change your cookie settings, please view our Cookie Policy
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
AU
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
   You are currently viewing the Australia version of the site.
Would you like to switch to your local site?
Digital Subscriptions > The Best Games of 2019 > The Best Games of 2019 > LETTER JAM

LETTER JAM

B_oody bri_ _iant

LETTER JAM

B_oody bri_ _iant

If you’re looking for a new post- Codenames word game that’s fruity and fresh, Letter Jam is it.

Everybody starts the game with a secret five-letter word decided by their neighbour. the five letter cards are shuffed; it’s your job to rearrange them in order to spell out the hidden word. Easy, right? Wait, did we mention you can’t see what letters you have?

Yep, Letter Jam borrows the quirky hold-your-cards-backwards trick of fireworks-making co-op game Hanabi and applies it to a twist on a Hangmanlike spellathon.

Everyone can see one of their fellow players’ letters each round, and must try to spell out a word using the visible letters around the table to give as many people clues to their current letter as possible. (So you might be working out the gap in B_SKET, while your E-holding neighbour puzzles over BASKT.) But you only have so many rounds to try and work out all five of your letters – you can’t return to a letter once you’ve decided what it is – so the pressure’s on to decode your letters and secret word as effciently as you can.

Like Codenames and Decrypto, it’s a social deduction word game par excellence, combining its simple ‘spell a word’ premise with the brain-burning coop challenge of both giving effective clues and working out those given to you.

Anyone can choose to give a clue (the green and red clue tokens ensure that everyone gives a hint at least once), vaguely indicating how helpful their hint might be – “This five-letter word helps three of us and uses the wildcard.” – to decide amongst themselves who should go this turn.

While there’s a nice amount of flexibility to ease the pressure on those who prefer to guess rather than give, this is Letter Jam’s only real sticky spot: depending on the letters and players, coming up with the best word possible can result in several minutes of quiet, game-dragging umming and erring, and potentially cause frustration if someone feels their thought-over perfect clue went to waste or someone blew a precious turn on an ultimately unhelpful hint.

After everyone gets into the swing of it, though, these moments of hesitation and disappointment tend to be rare – and the few that occur are often worth it for that moment you quickly pull out a nine-letter masterpiece that causes everyone to immediately solve their current letter. (A satisfaction only increased by clinking the fruity poker-chip tokens on the table to indicate the letters in your clue.)

As you might expect, Letter Jam’s social deduction element means it tends to work best with more players (extra heads around the table help with coming up with clues quickly, too), although it does scale nicely to smaller groups; decks of cards stand in for absent humans, drawing a random letter to help with hints. There’s a nifty way of keeping players who swiftly solve their word to remain engaged in the action, too, with bonus letters earning extra points if you’re keeping score.

Deliciously challenging, superbly original and executed to perfection, Letter Jam is the next great wordguessing game. To put it a fruitier way: it’s ficking fantastic.

MATT JARVIS

WE SAY

Letter Jam is a great co-op game, an outstanding word game and a brilliant experience – just be prepared to scratch your head over that perfect clue. When it hits you, though, you’ll be unable to conserve your excitement.

WHAT’S IN THE BOX

► 64 letter cards

► Wildcard

► Four setup cards

► Pad of guessing sheets

► Eight numbered tokens

► Six pencils

► Six card stands

► Six red clue tokens

► Nine green clue tokens

TRY THIS IF YOU LIKED… HANABI

If you love staring at card backs while thinking intensely about how to help your friends, these make for a perfect pair .

READ MORE
Purchase options below
Find the complete article and many more in this issue of The Best Games of 2019 - The Best Games of 2019
If you own the issue, Login to read the full article now.
Single Issue - The Best Games of 2019
$14.99
Or 1499 points

View Issues

About The Best Games of 2019

Must Plays and more in our Best Games of 2019 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Over the next 196 pages discover all of the most positively reviewed games of the year. With a massive 181 games reviewed, this is the definitive “what to play next” guide of 2019! Games reviewed include: Wingspan Copenhagen Hellboy: The Board Game Res Arcana Lifeform Century: A New World Megacity: Oceania Pandemic: Fall of Rome Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Rough Nights & Hard Days Azul: Stained Glass of Sinatra Tapestry Letter Jam Hako Onna Everdell Battle Ravens Dune + Many more!

Other Articles in this Issue