Bananagrams Council of League City (2008)

by sbh on Friday - 19 September 2008

in Uncategorized

If there is one positive that has come out of this whole Hurricane Ike business, it’s this writer’s new found love for Bananagrams.

If you’re not familiar with the game, then I suggest that you hop over to the site linked above and get to know it. For about a week now, this game has been a bit of an obsession at our house. In fact, I think we’ve played it every night since we were first introduced to it. However, we have modified the rules, largely because we are competitive people with competitive friends who enjoy things like “scoring.”

Last night, after a particularly contentious round of Bananagrams, the Bananagrams Council of League City (2008) convened for the first time. This group, which currently consists of five representatives (James, Daron, Wendy, Natalie, and me) hopes to codify the rules for a new type of Bananagrams game that lends itself to scoring. Here is what we’ve come up with so far:

1. The Setup
All tiles are arranged face down in the middle of the table. Each player selects a pre-determined number of starting tiles. This determination is made prior to the game and his little or nothing to do with however many tiles Daron claims a player needs to have.

2. The Start
Once all players have drawn their tiles, anyone may say “GO” to start the round. Typically, however, this duty falls upon the youngest in the group — though this is not ALWAYS the case.

Note that “GO” may only be said when all players have selected their tiles. Note also, however, that as soon as the final player puts his/her finger on the final tile that he/she needs to select, a valid “GO” may be uttered.

3. The Play
Each player uses tiles to create words in a crossword or Scrabble fashion. Each word must connect to another word, and may only be spelled left-to-right or up-to-down. No backwards spellings here.

A word is valid if and only if it is a non-proper (e.g., no proper nouns such as “Texas”) dictionary word. The host determines which dictionary or dictionaries are valid for this match. At the Hebert house, for example, the New Oxford American Dictionary shall be used unless otherwise noted.

At any time a player may trade in a disagreeable tile. To do so, the player simply returns that tile face down to the large pile in the middle. After returning the tile, the player must then draw three additional tiles from the middle. If three tiles aren’t available, then the player must take the remaining tiles.

Whenever a player has used all the tiles in his/her hand, he/she shall say “DONE.” At this point, all players must draw two tiles from the middle and add them to their stash. If there are not enough tiles for each to draw two, then the tiles shall be evenly distributed amongst all players. However, let’s keep this loosey-goosey, no need to be NAZIs about this.

4. The Finish
Play ends when a player has used all his/her tiles and said “DONE” for the final time. The offending winning player’s words shall be checked by the group. If any word is found to be invalid, play resumes.

The round is over when a player has successfully used all of his/her tiles to create valid words and no tiles remain in the pool in the middle.

5. The Score
At the end of the round, each player totals his/her points. Scoring is based on the number of letters (n) used in a given word.

Length (n) Points
2 2
3+ n – 1

For example, the word “IT” is worth two points. The word “PIT” is also worth two points. The word “SPIT” is worth three points, while the word “SPITE” is worth four points. Hopefully, you get the idea.

In addition to this point total, the player who finished first receives five bonus points.

Finally, to discourage haphazardly trading in particularly difficult to use letters (i.e., J, Q, X, and Z), additional points will be awarded for using these letters. Currently, the Council is undecided as to how these points should be awarded. Two possibilities are being debated.

Option #1: Jamesian Scoring (aka Double Word Score)
Under this method, any word that uses one of the difficult letters listed above will receive a double word score. For example, “ZOO” would be worth four points instead of two. Additionally, if a player builds another word off of the Z in “ZOO” then double points are awarded for that word. Therefore, if “QUIZ” is formed off of the Z in “ZOO” then “QUIZ” receives six points.

QUIZ = 6pts
ZOO = 4pts
TOTAL = 10pts

Option #2: Daronian Scoring (aka Point Per Difficult Letter Used)
According to this scoring method, an additional three points are given for each difficult letter used. However, these three points only count once, meaning that additional points are not added for building off of difficult letters. In our example above with “QUIZ” built off of the Z in “ZOO” the points would break down as follows:

QUIZ = 3pts
ZOO = 2pts
Use of 1 Q = 3pts
Use of 1 Z = 3pts
TOTAL = 11pts

Until this debate is put to rest, the use of Daronian Scoring or Jamesian Scoring shall be up to the host of the game. Note, however, that both of these options are completely valid according to the Council so long as they are not mixed. There shall be no commingling of Daronian and Jamesian Scoring.

5. The Win
Typically, games have been played until a player goes over 300 points. Once a player has gone over 300 points, the player with the highest total points wins.

However, like so many other things, the objective score is up to the host. If the host deems that a higher or lower objective score is more appropriate, then it shall be so. However, this decision, and all other rules decisions that are the prerogative of the host shall be decided prior to the beginning of the game.

Questions? Comments? Concerns?

Leave ’em below!

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