One of the nice things about the game Bananagrams is that the game lends itself to rule modifications.
For instance, when my family plays, we don’t use the “Dump” option – in my opinion, allowing “dumping” of tiles encourages intellectual laziness, and more often than not it benefits the person dumping the tiles. Instead, we always try to play every tile drawn. This forces us to learn new words, and encourages new ways of thinking about the words already formed.
Here is a list of variations that I’ve used in varying combinations to spice up the game / make it more enjoyable.
- Don’t allow the dumping of tiles. Instead, agree that each player will attempt to play all tiles played.
- When dumping tiles, always do so face-up. This way the other players in the game are aware of the value of the tile and may choose to avoid it if necessary OR pick it up if so desired. This eliminates some of the advantage that the dumping player often gains.
- Choose a theme for each game, and require that each player create at least one word related to that theme. For instance, if declare that the theme is “colors,” each player would have to form at least one color word. (ex: red, blue, yellow, green, puce.) When choosing a theme, it is important to declare a category broad enough that each person can create a related word regardless of tiles chosen, yet narrow enough that a creative mind cannot explain that nearly any word is related. For example, a theme of “names of family members” is likely too narrow, as most people have only a small handful of family members and may not choose the letters required to spell a single acceptable term. On the flip side, a category like “Terms related to the passing of the seasons” may be too broad, as a almost any word can be cast as being related. (Examples of stretched relationships: “red” is the color that leaves turn, “car” is related because many people drive their car when Spring comes around, “sign” is related because the passing of the seasons always involve various signs, etc.) Examples of good categories that I’ve used: colors, parts of an automobile, beverages, food items.)
- Put restrictions of the length of words that can be formed. For instance, say “no words fewer than 4 letters,” or “no words greater than 6 letters.” This rule can be used to “even the playing field” in games between newer and veteran players – try applying various restrictions to all players, or to only veteran players.
- Restrict the size of the playing grid. Bananagrams is a game played without a board. An interesting twist on the game is to use a board to limit the “sprawl” of the tiles. Try using a 10×10 grid, or even just a sheet of notepaper on which all words must be played. This forces a more “dense” playing area.
- Make it into a crossword game. Play a normal game, but let everyone finish their board. Then have each player create clues for each of his words. When complete, have everyone pass the clue sheet and their (mixed up) tiles to the player on their right. The receiving player must then re-create the board using only the tiles he is given and the clue sheet.