Who loves making words in Scrabble? It so satisfying to make that massively long word that you have spent ages figuring out. It also unfortunately sort of depressing when somebody can score loads more points by using a fraction of the letters on a really boring word. There is a solution. Don’t play Scrabble, play LeCardo.
LeCardo does away with letters and instead gives you a hand of cards with short words printed on them. The aim is to make phrases and combine words together in an ever growing grid. Not only is LeCardo much faster than Scrabble – gone are people struggling to make a word with the Z, Qu, J and W they have been handed – it is also much funnier and comes in a tiny pack of cards.
I say it’s funnier because as you are trying to make these ‘common’ phrases and words you will almost certainly have times when everybody but one person go “That isn’t a thing”. However, as long as they can justify why it should be allowed and what it means and everybody agrees on it then it’s fair game. So you’ll have people explaining what ‘Table Time’ is and ‘Power Drive’. This could be abused by particularly convincing or aggressive players, but LeCardo is so casual that I rarely see this happening. In fact there should be a variant where you need to make your own phrases and it is mandatory to convince the group – I’m very much going to play this next time actually.
On a given players turn they can place cards from their hand of seven into the grid to form new words or phrases. Similarly to Scrabble they can place a card below a current word or phrase and another to the side thus creating their own word. For example I could play house underneath fire and then place fly next to house. Once a player has played their card then they draw up back up to seven and score the phrases they have made. If you really can’t form any phrases or words then you have the option to draw 3 cards then discard 3 instead of playing one this turn.
Scoring is really easy in LeCardo. Just add up the numbers on all the cards included in phrases made on a players turn and that is their score. It is worth remember though that when placing a card in a square then all adjoining cards need to form their own phrases, but this is ripe for people explaining their ‘Power Drive’ like I said earlier, so it is rarely and issue.
The box says 2-4 players, but I don’t see a reason it couldn’t go higher if you don’t mind the game taking longer. The only real problem is that the grid quickly becomes very big, so it stops LeCardo being a really great travel game since it requires some playing space. This could be mitigated by partly placing cards on top of each other to reduce the space taken up.
LeCardo is wonderfully small and easy to learn. If you’re sick of Scrabble, but love word games, then I highly recommend this one. It plays in about 20 minutes and every game is guaranteed to have some funny moments. Can you really say that about Scrabble?