Assemble ye good Wizards, for ’tis time.
If my earlier creation, Ghost, wasn’t quite to your ghoulish fancy, then why not have a little dabble in the art of spells, with my next… Wxyzaerds.
There are actually so many different kinds of dice on the market, from 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 20, 24, 30, 60 or even 100 sided dice, to divination, tarot or psychic dice, all kinds of creative, abstract, magical or humorous dice… but, most favourably in my book… letter dice.
Letter or “word” dice are generally six sided with letters of the alphabet printed on their faces. There are various kinds available, but ones which also display a letter value are harder to find.
I will leave a reference at the end of this article to a few such letter scoring dice, but for Wxyzaerds we will be using the nine dice set from the game Dicewords by Graham Lipscomb.
How To Play
Traditionally this game can be played by at least two players and up to a maximum of six players. However there is no official limit.
The starting player is decided by rolling the Question “?” die. This die has a question mark on one of its faces and is the only question mark found in the whole dice set. The first player to actually roll the “?” successfully, starts the game.
To begin, each player takes it in turns to roll all nine dice and attempt to create the highest scoring word from the letters dictated by chance.
Each turn a player may create either just one word from all nine letters or, if there are enough dice left over, two or more words.
Thus for example, one word of six letters and another word of the remaining three letters.
After a player first rolls the dice in any turn, he or she has a further two rolls available to change the values of the dice.
A player may re-roll all nine dice, or just a few, but only a maximum of three rolls in total are permitted in a turn.
Players score points by totalling the values of letters AND the number of letters in the created word(s).
Unlike in Dicewords, where players multiply their word score by the number of letters in the word, in Wxyzaerds players merely count the number of letters and add that number to the totalling face values.
Players score a bonus “double die” value if two words intersect each other. The die through which they intersect scores DOUBLE its face value for BOTH words.
Each turn players then add their completed word score hand to their running total.
The fun now begins.
In Wxyzaerds there is a spooky kind of special objective.
The special objective in Wxyzaerds is to attempt to form “Wizard Words”, these are any kind of word which could be directly attributed to Wizardry.
The primary target word is “WXYZAERDS” which scores TRIPLE = a massive 78 points.
All other Wizard Words score DOUBLE.
So for example, words like “Magic”, “Broom”, “Wand”, “Witch”, “Quidditch”, “Sorcery”, “Potion”, “Spells” or of course the standard spelling of “Wizard”, all these kinds of words score DOUBLE points.
Note, when making “WXYZAERDS” only the plural scores triple points, whereby the singular without the “S” only scores double = 52 points.
After 13 hands have been played, whichever player has the highest score is declared the winner of the game.
Another scoring hand is the Alphabetical Sequence. These are dice which follow alphabetically unto each other. For example, HIJKLM.
Whence creating a word, any dice left over which form an AlphaBeta may score ONE point each. Their default point values are ignored.
AlphaBetas and Words score independently and may not be combined. Thus, players may create a Word AND an AlphaBeta, OR even just an AlphaBeta, however a combo of BOTH does NOT score extra points.
For example, the word “STUMP” which contains an AlphaBeta, only scores as a WORD. This is because the Word takes precedence over the AlphaBeta. However, if only the first part “STU” were formed, then these three letters would score an AlphaBeta of THREE points.
Remember each die in an AlphaBeta scores ONE point and so a six letter AlphaBeta would score SIX points.
The golden target word “WXYZAERDS” also contains an AlphaBeta. Whilst not valid whence part of the actual Word, this particular “WXYZ” AlphaBeta scores DOUBLE whence standing alone. Thus, 8 points.
Only a NINE letter AlphaBeta scores TRIPLE… and thus 27 points.
The “?” Die
The question mark die can be employed as a wild card, that is to say the “?” may substitute any letter of the alphabet to help form a Word, or an AlphaBeta.
However, as is shown on the Dicewords “?” die face, this character subtracts -2 points from the positive total word score.
If an AlphaBeta is formed, then the “?” is merely discounted as null.
If the Word formed is a Wizard Word, then the “?” value is similarly adjusted. For example, if the grande “WXYZAERDS” is formed utilising the “?“, then because this word scores triple points, the “?” is likewise tripled to subtract -6 points.
All other Wizard Words would be subtracted -4 points.
Aside from a standard dictionary of your own native language, players may find it prudent to create their own mutual Wxyzaerds Dictionary.
This would be a list of words agreed upon by familiar players which they each feel may be permitted in the game.
Players could thus create any wizardish or bizarish words they like, increasing the linguistic and strategic scope of the game.
A definition for each word created is in fairness recommended, although not an official requirement.
Personally I like the word BROOMSTIX, not only for its quirky individuality, but because the ten or eleven letter standard spelling cannot be used with only nine dice.
Aye, one could employ more dice, but any more than nine dice is becoming a handful and besides, one may find it rather a headache ensuring the correct selection of letters are attributed.
So for this reason I recommend a Wxyzaerds Dictionary.
Wxyzaerds Teams CallCode
Here is a light hearted accompaniment to the game.
Whence many players decide to create a Wxyzaerds Team and therefore partake in competitions against other Wxyzaerds Teams, it is a tradition of this sport that each team create its own CallCode.
The team CallCode is not a function of actual gameplay, but is a recreational means employed whence in public to locate and identify the existence of other Wxyzaerds Teams, or players.
Players create and choose together a unique Wizard Word to represent their own team. This word is mostly kept a secret, although would be learnt by other teams over time and thence perhaps change as it becomes commonly known.
This word is only announced whence calling it in public.
For example, you are walking through a park and decide to shout out your team’s CallCode, which is “SPORKENCHIME”. You then wait to hear if any other teams are nearby.
If a member of YOUR team is nearby, he or she will respond with the secret response code. This is a SECOND unique Wizard Word shared amongst your team.
If a member of an OPPONENT team is nearby, he or she will respond with their own team’s CallCode, but only if they wish their presence to be known.
Once a response has been made, players might decide to meet for a friendly match or, merely pass the time shouting CallCodes back and forth until eventually, someone walks into a dancing tree.
Of course, any dice with letters on their faces may be used for this game, however if they do not also feature a numerical value then players will have to decide an alternative method of scoring.
Here are two method concepts.
- Include an alphabet reference on the score sheet, taken from either Dicewords or perhaps Scrabble. Or apply your own invented values.
- Include a FOUR sided dice. Whence rolled separately, its value would determine the value of letters. Roll once for consonants and again for vowels.
Remember the objective of Wxyzaerds is to achieve Wizard Words, so effectively the individual letter values are not absolutely essential, although a fundamental highlight of the game.
There are many letter styled dice available in the world if you search around, but for now I will leave a few references below.
Summon Ye Good Spells
I bought Dicewords many years ago because I wanted a portable kind of Scrabble game. Yet the dice lay dormant eventually, partly due to my ever increasing escapades in other games designs, but also because I couldn’t quite settle with its limitations of play.
This is not to suggest Dicewords is boring, of course not, but for me personally I wanted more from a game of words than just “words”… I wanted strategical prowess, I wanted adventurous magical words… I wanted spells.
And so, after many years of other recreational investigations, uncountable Chess Variant studies and even more kinds of crazy dice collections, I finally returned to my beloved letter dice.
Aye, the game of Wxyzaerds seems only natural now I have determined its character and thence revealed it unto you. But perhaps, like they say “a wand chooses his magician”, perhaps Time chooses his Wxyzaerd.
So gather ye dice of scrumptious magic and books of Wizard Words… it’s time to command the energy of nine and cast our good spells unto the fabric of time.
For evil thus here beware, art now good Wxyzaerds everywhere.
Thank you for reading and indeed for following my creative escapades.
Wxyzaerds © S.E. Jepps