First impressions of Words With Friends and Draw Something... the boardgames?!
Reach out and touch Zynga
However you feel about Facebook gaming giant Zynga and its suite of Villes and clones, it's still the most successful social games company around (although with rapidly falling financials, it's safe to assume it won't be holding onto that crown for long).
This week, toy manufacturer Hasbro sent across two physical Zynga-branded boardgames: Words With Friends and Draw Something.
Although it was difficult to look past the fact that a Scrabble clone becomes even more of a Scrabble clone when it transitions into physical form, the Draw Something boardgame on my living room table actually puts such a playful spin on Pictionary that I may find myself wanting to replay it again and again.Words With Friends boardgame
Let's get this one out of the way first, though. Anyone who has played Words With Friends online will know that it's basically a straight rip-off of Alfred Mosher Butts's aforementioned legendary word game (with the tiles on the board altered slightly in a bid to avoid a lawsuit).
Up to four players take it in turns to put letter tiles down on a board, making words and scoring points in the process. I really cannot stress this enough - it's Scrabble. Yes, that game you've played a dozen times before.
Words With Friends does some things right and some things wrong. The tiles and the bag you keep them in are well crafted, and the stands for propping the tiles up in are sturdy enough.
The board itself, however, is incredibly flimsy. Even worse, it folds out the wrong way. So, rather than being able to turn the board inwards and funnel the tiles into the bag when you've finished a game, you are forced to spill them all over your table.
Is there any reason to buy this instead of Scrabble? Well, you do get a code in the Words With Friends box for the online version. (This code lets you unlock certain features in the digital edition.) But, honestly, the answer is 'no'. Scrabble still does it better.Draw Something
The physical version of Draw Something is an entirely different ball game, however, for some genuine thought has actually gone into the gameplay and the packaging.
The pencil-shaped box is a delight, and the way in which you set everything up, from the individual pads to the selection of cards, is particularly neat.
Draw Something is a lot like Pictionary, expect that you don't play in teams. Rather, you take it in turns to draw something off a card, and whoever guesses it correctly bags the points (as does the artist, too.)
But, there's more. On the back of the playing card, there's a bunch of letters. If you rearrange a selection of them, you can figure out the word. This turns the game into a sort of Pictionary / Countdown hybrid.
Not everything about this physical edition of Draw Something is so great, mind. You get to choose one of three words to draw each go, with extra points given for harder words. A lot of the time, though, the word with the maximum points value isn't the hardest. Some of the physical elements are a bit flimsy, too, such as the clip-ons that help you keep score.
In general, however, Draw Something is a neat twist on the Pictionary concept, and is a boardgame that I may get out again when friends come over. Definitely worth throwing into a Christmas stocking for a loved one.