Word on the Street was originally published in 2009. Since then it's been through several editions. We were sorry to see that the plastic letter tiles of the original game haven't returned, but we're happy to make do with cardboard tiles for the pleasure of once again being able to play this simple but clever tug-of-war party game from Educational Insights and CoiledSpring.
Word on the Street is a game either for two players or two teams of players. The box says the game plays up to 8 but there's really no physical limit other than the practical difficulty of dealing with lots of people shouting out different answers at the same time. The board is a grid five spaces wide. The middle column has letters on it. The vowels are missing, as are the letters J, Q, X and Z. The remaining 17 letter tiles are placed on the corresponding positions in this central column. There's a thick pile of 'category' cards (216 in this edition, all double-sided!). A player reads out a category and the opposing team have just 30 seconds to come up with a single word that qualifies for that category. A sand timer is provided to keep the teams honest. Team members call out their answers but then need to choose the answer they will use, and they move towards them the letters used in that word. So, for example, for the category 'Something found in a hospital', your team might decide to use the word 'Respirator'. This word would move the letters R, S, P and T. The S, P and T would each move one space towards your side of the board but because the letter R is used three times in the word, it will move three spaces. If the R was in the middle, as at the start of the game, then that would be enough to take it off the board - so your team will have won the letter. Words with R can still subsequently be used but the R has been 'captured' so won't move back onto the board. Play continues in this way until a team has captured eight letters.
If a team has pulled a letter close to their edge of the board, the other team will be especially keen to tug it back in order to keep it in play. And as more letters are captured so the difficulty ratchets up because even quite long words can prove to be unhelpful to your team if most of the letters in that word are no longer up for grabs.
Jack Degnan's design for a simple easy-to-play game has already passed the test of time. For sure, you'll find some of the category cards annoying; for example, one card calls for 'The abbreviation for an organisation or agency', which seems likely to generate only short responses. Nevertheless, it includes a very wide selection, and we especially liked the fact that there's a generally 'easier' side to each card so, if playing Word on the Street as a family game, you can pit children against adults by using the yellow 'easy' categories for the children and the blue 'harder' categories for the adults.
Word on the Street plays quickly (our Board's Eye View plays have typically taken 15-20 minutes) so it's a word and trivia game that ticks a lot of boxes as a great party game for all ages. The Word on the Street is that this is a game you'll be breaking out to play when the family come round this Christmas.