Toy Fair 2013: Griddly Games’ Show Me the Kwan: Word War Three Begins Soon…

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KwanAs usual, Griddly Games‘ Angela Welch is a total ringer. Here I was minding my business strolling around the show floor at Toy Fair when my path sent me past the GG both where their upcoming word game Show Me the Kwan (or Kwan) was on display and once I was lured into a match, well… like last year’s fun puzzle/strategy game Oversight, I went down faster than a Canadian Goose dipped in kerosene taking a detour through a flaming hoop. That actually means the game is really good and not much sleep before strolling the show floor means a discarded soda can could have beaten me…

Unlike other word dice games, Kwan isn’t about spelling out words (heck, you only get twelve letter dice and boxing gloves aren’t included so you can fight over that last vowel) and according to Welch, good spelling is kind of optional as well. That’s a tiny bit deceptive however, as the game is all about knowing the first, second or last letter in any word you’re going to grab one of those twelve dice over in order to score points. And Kwan doesn’t give you the luxury of time, either. A game goes like this: a special die is rolled to determine which letter position (1st, 2nd or Last) players will need to guess words for. Roll those 12 letter dice (big hands help, but two will do), flip the timer and everyone gets a solid minute to think up associated words, yell them out (optional, but it’s going to happen with a minute ticking away or whatever sand does in a minute timer) and grab the die with the letter on it.

The tricky bits are the 300 categories (presented in easy and tough categories) and the potential millions of words you’ll be thinking up. One example? OK – Things that can get you fired from work? One word, second letter is “I”? Got it? Got a few? Too many (If it’s the latter, I’m glad I don’t work with YOU, then). You get the point, though. Let’s just say the game can get really wild really quickly. I think I scored a few points by saying “drown” at the Pool Activities category, but I just may have made myself laugh a bit too sinister at my own joke (well, I can’t swim much other than sink, so it was no joke). The game was cooked up by inventor Martin Nedergaard Anderson, but I think the folks at Griddly put together the categories, as there’s a certain creative and charming but slightly bent tone to some of the categories.

If anything, NO one will “burn through” Kwan’s categories in a rainy weekend simply because the word potential is off the charts. A Spanish version is in the works, but I can see this getting played by folks everywhere words are spelled because you can really do a lot more than you think with a dozen letters. You may even become a tiny bit smarter as you play if opponents toss in obscure slang and can back it up with examples (before the other players beat them senseless for yelling out obscenities only they know the meaning of). Hmmm… perhaps the game should also come with a disclaimer and some sort of discount coupons for protective head gear at a decent sporting goods retailer? Perhaps Kwan could even be an Olympic sport, given the fierceness that’s guaranteed to take place in some homes where the competitive spirit of a good word game makes or breaks a game night.

Show Me the Kwan isn’t out quite yet (some final tweaks need to be done to the dice and I think the packaging may change slightly), but I’ve got my (Body Parts) eaR to the (Outdoor Things) Ground and will let you know what’s what soon enough. Hopefully the game will be out before (Summer) JUne or so, as I could use a fun diversion if I ever take another vacation…

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