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League of the Lexicon

The Board's Eye View team see, play, review & '360' games from all round the world. We have a smattering of mostly European languages within the team but only a few of us are multilingual so most of us struggle with games where the text on cards is in a 'foreign' language. If the game isn't in English then we have a marked preference for it being 'language independent' (ie: icons on the cards rather than text that sets out what the card can do). Two Brothers' League of the Lexicon is the complete opposite of a 'language independent' game. It's a trivia game entirely based on the idiosyncrasies and etymology of the English language. Non-English speakers look away now: there's nothing to see here. This is not a game for you :-)

League of the Lexicon comes in a physically heavy but strikingly attractive chunky roughly A5 sized box. It's heavy because it's jam-packed with question cards. These each contain five questions in five numbered categories. These are divided into two sets: 'Ticklish' (100 cards) is described as 'ideal for younger or less confident players' while the much larger box (300 cards), labelled 'Tricksy' is designed 'to test even the pluckiest of wordsmiths'. The main advantage of having two distinct sets of questions is that makes it possible for older children to plays alongside adults.

Category #1 is titled 'Lexicon Master' but many of the questions are antonyms (ie: you're given a word and have to choose the opposite from the multiple choice of four options that you are offered). Some questions in this category tho' call for lists; for example, 'name 10 types of coffee drink'. Category #2 is titled 'Meaning and More': you are given a word and choose its meaning from among four options. Tho' category #3 is titled 'Usage and Abusage', these are mostly spelling questions: you're given a tricky word to spell; some tho' offer sentences from which you choose the one that is grammatically correct or which makes the correct use of a particular word. Category #4 is titled 'Word Sauce'; a homophonic pun because the questions all relate to the source, origin or original use of a word or phrase. 'Worldly Wisdom' is the title for Category #5 and these are the most varied, and indeed some of them do touch upon facts relating to other languages. Again, tho' the large majority are multiple choice questions where you choose one of four possible answers.

We've focused more on the question categories than the game because, like most trivia games, the 'game' aspect is actually less important. Indeed, that's pretty much recognised in the short rule book which offers several variants that amount to a licence to use the cards to play in any way that takes your fancy. However, the actual game involves 2-6 players each taking a character card that has six icons on the bottom. On your turn, you roll a six-sided die and answer that number question on a card (the die has 'player choice' on its sixth face). Get the question right and you draw a face-down artefact card; the 45 artefacts each show an icon (there are five artefacts with each icon), and to win you need to collect five of the six icons on your character card and then answer a 'Decider Question' (ie: a question chosen by the other players). If you have two artefacts with icons that don't match any on your character card, you can discard them to draw another. If you have three artefacts with icons that don't match your card, you can treat them as one of the artefacts you need to claim the 'Decider Question'. There's nothing inherently wrong with this set collection game but you may well find it stretches game play too long if you're playing at higher player counts.

As an alternative, we've mostly played League of the Lexicon as a dinner party game, where players pose questions to each other from just a few of the cards. The cards are suitably challenging for all but the most accomplished scholar of the English language and, played in this way, you get to control playing time. If your dinner party guests clamour for more, you can dish out more cards and keep the game going; better certainly than risking game play outstaying its welcome.

Board's Eye View was not paid to review League of the Lexicon but we were sent a free review copy. The game is exclusively available at Waterstones.

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