Geek & Dad’s new favorite tabletop game

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So grandma gave the family Bananagrams for Christmas this year and it has rapidly become our favorite tabletop family game. Fun to play with just Geek & Dad, and also fun with Mom for a three player game.

The fun part is that we are all about equal in skill so there’s a real challenge for everyone!  In this game Dad won, but only because Geek got some tough letters all at the end.

Game 1 - Dad

Game 1 - Geek

The other thing that helped Dad was that his layout was very spread out and this makes for more places to attach words.

Geek gets some serious “woah” credit for his complex multiword interplay, but in Bananagrams that doesn’t necessarily end up being a winning strategy.

As you can see, Bananagrams is sort of a free-form Scrabble or crossword type puzzle game and it’s all about using all your letters first.  However, you keep drawing new letters whenever someone uses up all their letters until there are not enough letters left for everyone to draw – and then it’s next person who finishes WINS!

One tricky aspect of the game is that you can toss back a letter that is giving you a hard time.  In the second game we played, Geek used this strategy near the end to foist the Q off on Dad, even though Geek had all the u’s except for one! Very mean, er, effective! 🙂

Here’s Dad’s hand for the second game, and as you can see, all is good except for that darn Q which Dad picked up as his very last letter!!!  aarrrgggg!

Game 2 - Dad

Game 2 - Geek

Now with Bananagrams it’s not necessarily a big deal to pick up a difficult letter because you can tear apart what you’ve built so far and completely rebuild, which is what Dad was about to do after picking up that Q, but then Geek cried “done!”  sigh. 🙂

Next you can see Geek’s winning layout here. Got some great words there Geek!

One of the best parts about this game?  It was created by a family for their own entertainment and only became a commercial game after their friends urged them to produce it!  Indie Dev – non-computer style – bravo! (story here)

Dad really likes the fact that they didn’t go “cheap” with the production aspects of this game.  The banana bag that holds the letters is well made from cloth (not plastic) and the tiles are weighty like quality dominoes and feel good to hold and manipulate.  A big company might have used light weight plastic that was too easily bumped out of position and felt wimpy and annoying.  Not these – very nicely done.

All and all, Bananagrams gets the coveted G&D Recommended rating. 🙂


Update (January 8): so all three of us played using both the standard rules and Bob’s suggested alternate rules and we have to agree that we like his alternate rules quit a bit!  Really does encourage longer words and that makes for a nice additional challenge.  Here are some pictures of some of the best of the 4-5 rounds we played:

Two amazing words by Geek - 341 record score

Dad's hand - 288 (too many free letters) - Geek Wins!

Geek got some tough letters there at the end! But wow, what a great big main word!

Dad's best hand of the night; double win, but only 314 points

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6 Responses to “Geek & Dad’s new favorite tabletop game”

  1. Bob Clark Says:

    Hey there,

    Our family just saw this Bananagrams game a week ago. It was amazing, partly because we’ve been playing a variant of this for years. “Take Two”, with Scrabble tiles. In fact, we’ve assembled “Take Two” games for Christmas gifts by ordering Scrabble tile sets and sewing together a cloth bag.

    We do scoring a little differently than Bananagrams. When the first person is finished with their crossword, each person adds the square of the length of each of their words, and subtracts the square of the number of leftover tiles. (So the first person done would subtract zero, of course.)

    This incentivizes really long words.

    We used to play with an HP calculator sitting at the table with a simple program to add up the scores correctly. 🙂

    • Dad Says:

      Very Cool! I like the incentivizing of longer words, though obviously this does add complexity in scoring…

      • Bob Clark Says:

        The dynamic of the game can change, where Player One might be restructuring around a really long word and Player Two is madly adding “of” and “as” and “to”, trying to finish in time to stick Player One with a lot of loose tiles.

    • Dad Says:

      Actually, Geek and I just came up with the idea of making a scoring card that would maybe make it easier to play/score without a calculator.

      #2 letter words ___ * 4 = ____
      #3 letter words ___ * 9 = ____

      # letters left over ___ * ___ = _____

      One thing to make it even easier is you could subtract the lowest number of words of a given length for any player from all the players’ number to reduce the left side of the multiplication.

      ok. Probably still need a calculator…

    • Dad Says:

      Just played 5 or 6 rounds trying out these rules and man is it fun! Got some great long words (Geek got “millijoules”! Dad got “Tournaments”). Interesting how having a super long word is good, but 3 or 4 medium words is better and the whole time thing is a tough balancing act. Geek got the highest score out of all the rounds with his millijoules game at 341. Dad did ok with a 314. In both cases they were double wins because the high scorer both finished first and had the highest score by the alternate rules.

      Thanks for the idea of this alternate scoring – really makes things interesting!

  2. Tamara Says:

    Ahh! A great game for my language arts students to play. An extension of this
    would be: PHRASES or SENTENCES! Commas, dashes, periods, semi-colons,
    spaces-between-letters could be made out of the “extra” letters (not used) by
    flipping them over to their blank-sides. WORD-PLAY (MAKING UP WORDS BY
    COMBINING SIMILAR WORDS), i.e. “fantastimarvelous”– could also be added.
    Funderful!

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