Letter Tycoon

LETTER TYCOON

From Breaking Games

A review by Mawihtec

  • 2-5 Players
  • 30-45 Minutes
  • 8+ Age

H is for?

Hypothesis. Imagine if you will, just for a moment, that you can own letters of the alphabet. Not just own but get paid for when others use them. A little smile is forming, I can see it. Now imagine you owned the letter “S”. Just look at this short passage. How much would that earn you?

Now think about owning the patents of other letters. Yes yes good that’s right. Welcome to the world of Letter Tycoon. You can buy patents of the letters, Stocks for big words and money. Lots and lots of lovely money. Will you manage to create the biggest alphabet empire?

C is for?

Content. Here we have a very stylish looking box art. When you lift the lid you find a nicely thought out and organised content which consists of,

  • 102 Letter Factory Cards,
  • 26 Letter Patents,
  • 35 Coins,
  • 18 Stock certificates,
  • 4 Goal Cards,
  • 5 Scoring Reference cards,
  • Rule Book,
  • Zeppelin Starting Marker.

No I don’t know where the Zeppelin comes from either but it fits perfectly into the stylised steampunk-ish art work.

P is for?

Playing. Those familiar with certain tile laying word scoring games. Should find the general gameplay to be fairly familiar. But for those who are not. You will each have a hand of seven letter cards. In the centre will be three “community” cards. On your turn you will attempt to form as long a word as possible using the community cards and your hand of cards. The longer the word the more money you earn. Get over a certain length and you also earn stocks. Example “Jewels” at six letters would earn you $4 and 1 Stock Certificate. Then you may buy a letter patent of one (only one) of the letters just used in your word. “J-E-W-L-S” would be your options here. The more common a letter is the more it will cost to buy. Some letters will also grant you a special ability for example “Z will allow you to add S to the end of a word to extend it” From that point on any time an opponent uses your letter in their word you will get paid for its use. Used cards are discarded and new ones drawn. Next player will follow the same process and so on until the target score is reached. The target score is dependent on the number of players and could range from $45 down to $21 for 5 players. Obviously all words need to be legal words. Before you begin you agree on a word source for authentication (dictionary, google etc.).

I is for?

Issues. OK you have what at heart is a word making game. So immediately you will have the same issue that plagues all games of that genre. The more words you know the better you will potentially do. There is no honest way that this can be avoided. In saying that Breaking Games have tried to mitigate this factor as much as possible. The use of their method of word formation and a finite score based on word length instead of letter scores. We have to mention the example of Scrabble here. Quixote in Scrabble would score you 73 points (without any bonus) in Letter Tycoon you get $6 and 1 Stock, Scraper in Scrabble would score you 61 points in Letter Tycoon you get $6 and 1 Stock. Both words are 7 letters long, isn’t it better to score the same for a word of the same length of word. Yes you will likely still perform better the broader your word knowledge, but having 10 cards to choose from will help to balance things. The other major balance is that in Scrabble and similar word games the knowledge of 2 and 3 letter words can be massively important (Q-i, Z-O for example). This is useless to you here as all words must be 3 letter minimum and each word is a separate entity. Even with these efforts there can be a little bit of runaway leader syndrome.

T is for?

Thoughts. Breaking Games Letter Tycoon is a very respectable attempt to create a word game that does not reward eating a dictionary before you play. It is not perfect but despite those little issues which will always occur in a word game, I enjoyed playing Letter Tycoon. The component quality is nice and I do love the Zeppelin first player marker. I am hoping to get a copy of Letter Tycoon on my shelf at some point in the future.

S of for?

Summary. Nice component word making game reasonable balancing with some minor issues endemic in word construction games. Good for families. Game groups might enjoy dependant on the group.

Pro.

  • Zeppelin First player marker.
  • Interesting Art.
  • Concept is solid and new.
  • Scales well 2-5 players.

Con.

  • Reliant on word knowledge.
  • Runaway leader possible.
  • Word knowledge will usually determine leaders.

I received a copy of “Letter Tycoon through BGE to review. This game will now been forwarded onto another reviewer. I have tried not to let this influence my review.

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