Games: Boggle

My younger son just got a new Boggle game as a prize at school. (Oddly, he doesn’t know what it was a prize for.) And in his generous way, he gave it to me. (Well, it might have something to do with his finding it much harder to find words than I do.)

I’ve loved Boggle since I first played it thirty years ago as a college student. I was thrilled to find a handheld electronic Boggle game several years ago, and disappointed when it stopped working (and new batteries didn’t help any). Since then I’ve kept my eye out for another one, but it doesn’t seem to be carried in stores anymore. (I found a customer review on amazon.com saying that the game usually only lasts six months. This customer had been through eleven of them. Maybe most customers weren’t that loyal and stopped buying them.)

Recently I noticed that Boggle now comes in a compact case with a built-in timer. You can’t lose the cubes – the case doesn’t open, it just twists to allow you to shake up the cubes. Then you twist it again to lock them into place, and the time automatically starts. It even helps you know how much time is left by the color of the timer light and how fast it blinks.

I debated with myself about buying one as a replacement for the handheld electronic version. It’s certainly more practical to carry around than the original game, but it can’t be played lying on my back in bed the way I could with the electronic one. This one still requires pencil and paper to record the words. (Of course, some reviews at amazon.com pointed out that was a faster way to record words, even with the electronic one. I hardly ever played the timed version, so I didn’t care so much about speed.)

The other feature the electronic version had was a word list, so you knew how many of the possible words you had gotten (assuming you recorded your words electronically). But it apparently had a predefined list of words for each configuration of letters, rather than a true dictionary, as it sometimes accepted certain words and other times rejected them. That was annoying, but I didn’t let it bother me too much.

I’d rather have an electronic version that had a true dictionary (preferably a user-modifiable one), and one that didn’t break after six months. But since that doesn’t seem to be a possibility, and since I didn’t even have to buy this one, I’m quite happy with it.

I found a page with a bit of Boggle trivia:

  • For what can only be assumed to be reasons of propriety, the set of available letters in Boggle includes only two instances of the letter F and one letter K, and all three occur on the same cube.
  • Using the sixteen cubes in a standard Boggle set, the list of longest words that can be formed includes Inconsequentially, Quadricentennials, and Sesquicentennials, all seventeen letter words made possible by Q and U appearing on the same face of one cube.

2 Responses to Games: Boggle

  1. Peter L says:

    I love word games, as you probably remember from the Scrabble thread at WMB last year. I never knew the trivia you mention. One would think the Fs would be on separate cubes.

    SO, what’s the longest word you have ever found? I think I found an 8 letter word once, but don’t remember what it was now.

    • Pauline says:

      I have no idea what’s the longest word I’ve made. I just have fun making words, I don’t worry much about the scoring, so I tend to minimize how many long words I make, so the person I’m playing with won’t feel like it’s no use playing because I’ll always win.

      This evening my longest word was fencers.

      3/8/10 I kept playing to see if I could come up with a longer word. Tonight I got “toneless” and “boneless.”

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