Lingolandia

Designed by Anna Rybovicova and published by Ludopolis, Lingolandia is a deceptively simple roll & move 2-4 player family game where you have to come up with words connected with the cards on display. The 116 large-format (Dixit-size) cards all feature illustrations by Nina Sefcik.



On your turn, you draw a letter tile from a bag and roll a custom six-sided dice with faces 2, 3, 4, 5 and two special symbols. If you roll any of the numbers, then that's the number of words you have to come up with that begin with the letter drawn and which have a connection with one of the cards. Succeed and you win the card and move your pawn that number of spaces along a track on the board. If you roll the special symbol, then there is a scramble where all players simultaneously try to come up with words that start with the letter drawn, taking a card when they say a word that connects with it. The scramble ends when any player collects three cards in this way; and players all move their pawns the number of spaces that corresponds to the number of cards they won.



Some of the cards demand an element of inventiveness and maybe even some tangential storytelling to come up with relevant words that begin with some of the less frequently used letters, but, as you might well suppose from this brief rules summary, there's not much challenge here for adult native language speakers. Lingolandia comes into its own, however, as an educational activity. Play it with infant school children and it can be a great way of reinforcing literacy, speech and vocabulary. You can play it too with older children and adults who are learning a foreign language. Children learning French, for example, might be required to respond with words from their French vocabulary. You might vary the game by alternating between rounds whether the letter drawn has to correspond with the word used in the target language or the English word for which you give the target language equivalent; so, for example, a player answering with French vocabulary might offer fenetre (window) for F in a strict target language round but use it instead for W in a round requiring French translation of English words.



From our plays at Board's Eye View, we especially liked the way you could readily adjust the difficulty level by the simple expedient of filleting the letters in the bag. The English rules sheet suggests removing X, Y, W and Q for Slovak - which sounds like a relatively obscure linguistic choice until you realise that the game is of Slovak origin. It translates very well, however, to all languages that use the Latin alphabet. It would be an easy job to extend the scope of the game by adding your own letter tiles for languages based on other alphabets, such as Greek, Hebrew and Arabic.


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