Letterpress is the turn based iPhone word game you should be playing

31 Oct 2012

I don’t even know why I played so much Words With Friends. The more I played the more I became disillusioned with the core game: they took Scrabble, took out what made Scrabble great, and then put it on the iPhone. No longer was it a game of smarts and vocabulary, impressing your friends with big words - ‘is that even a word?’ - but instead a game of repeatedly putting down every combination of letters on the triple word score until the game decides that you’ve somehow come across a word. But every time I’d get that notification that my friend played a turn I’d have to go back and play.

No longer! Letterpress has replaced my iPhone-wordplay urges and is such a better game to boot. Players take turns picking out unique words on a Boggle-like board (though letters don’t have to be contiguous), and by doing so flip letters to their colour. Flip all the tiles surrounding a letter and the letter will be locked to your colour - your opponent can still use the letter but will not be able to flip it back to his or her colour without first flipping the tiles surrounding it.

What this very simple mechanic leaves us with is a surprisingly deep and rewarding strategic word game. The guess-a-bunch-of-words flaw of Words With Friends still exists, but thanks to the far larger possibility matrix on a turn, the effect is significantly minimized. Not only do you have twenty five different tiles to work with but you have to think about surrounding strategically valuable letters, and flipping your opponents letters to reveal more of the board. Letterpress is an excellent example of the phrase ‘easy to learn, difficult to master.’

Also, the game is free - you only pay to have more games occurring simultaneously, which you’ll probably want to do just about immediately. Check it out!


Yesterday I attended my second gamejam, an eight hour event where teams form to work on small games together around some loose themes, which this time were Black & White, Rockets, and Masks.


It’s early to say this, and maybe a little crazy, but I can’t help but put Twenty, a simple game from Stephen French, in the same category as Tetris. Not just in the way it plays - though it shares that methodical feeling of clearing a space that transitions to crowded panic - but in how it takes just a single mechanic and a simple interface to create something truly elegant and timeless. Twenty deserves to be played for decades to come, just like Tetris.