Word Whimsy Basics with Ben Stoll

By Ben Stoll

Hello Crypto Fans,

Ben Stoll here, game designer at Cryptozoic. Most recently, I'm the designer of Cryptozoic's latest party game, Word Whimsy!

As a gamer, I love my heavy strategy games, but I also have a real need in my life for games that are simple, don't have any real set-up time, and put the emphasis on laughing and having fun with my friends.

Word Whimsy plays in about 25 minutes and supports 3 to 7 players (there are special team rules for groups larger than 7). The game has our 15+ rating for the content on some of the word cards, but that said, the game is great for kids and it's only a handful of cards that parents could easily take out.

The rules are simple: Deal everybody a hand of seven cards, each card with a word written on it. Each round, a different player is the Referee, and he or she reads aloud a prompt card, such as “A Movie I Would Probably Love.” The other players would then build a movie title using the word cards in their hand, and submit it (anonymously) to the referee. Players can use one word from their hand, all seven, or any number in between.

So for example, let's say the prompt card is “A Movie I Would Probably Love” and this is our hand:

Hmm…does our Referee look like the kinda guy or gal who might enjoy a flick titled Unstoppable Snuggler Zombie? Or maybe something with more emotional weight to it, such as Lovesick Lumberjack? As you can see, if you look at the above hand of cards, the possibilities are practically endless!

Our referee will rank each submission in order of their preference, and pass out point chips accordingly. Listening to their thought process as they reach submission aloud is one the most fun parts of the game, and it's also nice that even if you didn't get that first place five point chip, if you had a great submission, you'll still have something to show for it.

With 250 word cards and endless potential combinations, 5 included rules variants, and even blank cards to make your own cards out of, Word Whimsy is endlessly replayable.

Not to mention the fact that about a third of those cards feature two words that you get to choose from, and those can be really fun when you're torn between both options. For example, what's more compelling? Would it be a...

...or a...

So, how did this game come about? I had a very specific goal in mind when I began creating Word Whimsy. Typically in similar games, players submit a pre-made answer in response to a prompt—but in this game, you create your own answer, using the word cards in your hand. This gives you a little extra sense of pride and creative ownership, since YOU were the one who concocted your own hilarious, adorable, clever, and/or innuendo-riddled submission! It also lets you play to the referee more effectively.

In case you're curious to hear a little bit of my design process, the word cards are designed to be fun, but also designed to combine with other words to form an image that still makes some sense—albeit a sort of ridiculous sense. In other words, I chose words like “Robot” or “Zombie” because they exist as ideas on their own but also combo well with other words—I can totally imagine a “Robot Walrus” or a “Zombie Unicorn”! But a word like “Submarine” wouldn't be quite as fun because “Submarine Walrus” is a little harder for me to make any sense out of. And then of course there are those word cards that can be interpreted in multiple ways...if you're “naughty” that is!

Thanks for listening to me talk about my game! I love it, and I know that you and all your awesome friends will too. Have fun!

-Ben

BenStoll's picture Ben Stoll

Ben Stoll is an avid gamer who has been designing games professionally since 2009. He is currently the lead designer on HEX: Shards of Fate, Cryptozoic's upcoming Massively Multiplayer Online Trading Card Game. His latest board game designs include The Big Bang Theory Party Game and Word Whimsy