Here is our list of the 10 best word games. This category of board games is pretty self-explanatory. These are games that typically do not have any focus on the theme and are all about words, things that benefit from you being everything from a master of language to a logical genius. You may have to build or you may need to deconstruct but there are many things that you can do with words while playing with our knowledge and preconceived notions of language and communication. With all the amazing games in this category in mind, here is your list of the 10 Best word games.
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#10 | Trapwords
Trapwords makes the list of the best word games because it is a party game that has successfully blended some great mechanics from the past into a wonderful modern game for any medium or large sized group. It is like the classic Taboo, but it takes it further by having the opposing team choose the words you cannot use and you do not know what they are.
You take the role of a group of adventurers crawling through a fantasy dungeon full of traps and curses, with a Boss waiting for you at the end. You have to successfully guess a word that one of your teammates is trying to describe to you. And the further you get, the worse it gets. For 4 – 8 players, games run about 30 – 45 minutes.
FOR MORE: Buy Trapwords
#09 | Beyond Balderdash
Balderdash is the classic fake definition trickery board game. This title originally published in 1984 launched a great idea that tested people’s knowledge of word definitions and it makes the list of the best word games because it is still the best at it today. The Beyond edition is basically a second edition that adds some other stuff.
The game is based on bluffing your opponents into guessing your false definitions to obscure words. The real answers are often even more outrageous than the bluffs, so the game offers plenty of laughs. The Beyond version builds on this with things like movies (make up a plot) and people (say what they did). For 2 – 6 players, games last about 45 minutes.
FOR MORE: Buy Beyond Balderdash
#08 | Letter Jam
Letter Jam makes the list of the best word games because even though it is very new, people are falling in love at an alarming rate. From the same publishers as Codenames, Letter Jam is a cooperative word game where players assist each other in composing meaningful words from letters around the table. It has fun communication and it tests an appropriate level of knowledge if you like a game about working together with others instead of against.
At the start of the game, each player receives a set of face-down letter cards that can be arranged to form an existing word (players selecting words for each other). Throughout the game, other players search each other’s cards to make words. Ultimately you are trying to use clues to figure out your master secret word and the more players that successfully do, the better the victory. For 2 – 6 players, games go for about 45 minutes.
FOR MORE: Buy Letter Jam
#07 | When I Dream
If you are looking for something that does have a lot of theme and a lot of additional things going on, When I am Dream may be the title on the list of the best word games for you. This is a real-time deduction game that has elements of storytelling and role-playing. If you strip it all away, however, this is a word game at heart.
This is an active game so get ready. The dream spirits want to have some fun tonight. Players each take turns being the “dreamer” and they “fall asleep by putting on a cloth mask (included). The other players are secretly dealt their role cards determining if they have naughty or nice intensions. A non-dreamer draws an image card and has to describe it in one word. Lighting round style, you have 120 seconds to get through as many as possible. For 4 – 10 players, games last 20 – 40 minutes.
FOR MORE: Buy When I Dream
#06 | Paperback
Paperback makes the list of the best word games because it is so smart in both theme and gameplay. It is a word game that meets a deck-building game, which is a feat in itself, but even more interestingly, it is a game about you being a paperback author trying to finish novels for your editor. The thought to blend these things and have the perfect theme to back it up was genius.
You start with a deck of letter cards and wild cards. Each hand you form words and purchase more powerful letters based on how well your word scored. Most letters have abilities that activate when they are used in a word, such as drawing more cards or doubling letter scores. You buy wilds to gain victory points. This is a great bridge game that can unify and strategy and a word board game player. For 2 – 5 players, games run about 45 minutes.
FOR MORE: Buy Paperback
#05 | Werewords
Werewords makes the list of the best word games because it takes a great word game and throws in a wolf, literally and metaphorically. It is a great deduction word game, taking in clues to get you closer, but it also happens to have this other random hurdle that is going to pop out and ruin days. It is a lively title and should please players of all groups and intensities.
Players guess a secret word by asking “yes” or “no” questions. Figure out the magic word before time is up, and you win. The wrench, however, one of the players is secretly a werewolf who is not only working against you, but also knows the word. If you don’t guess the word in time, you can still win by identifying the werewolf! It is very difficult to hide as the werewolf. For 4 – 10 players, it goes about 10 minutes per round.
FOR MORE: Buy Werewords
#04 | Decrypto
Decrypto makes the list of the best word games because it is a masterful blending of a guessing game within a bigger guessing game. You have your own thing going on with your team, but depending on how well you do at that informs the bigger race of which overall team is going to team. You need people to guess from a shortlist of words, how little can you give them to get them there is the question.
Players compete in two teams in Decrypto (white and black), with each trying to correctly interpret the coded messages of their opponent before they do the same. On each team’s personal board, there are four cards tucked into the different screens (#’d 1 – 4). The team can see these words, the opponents cannot. Each round one team member per team is the decoder and draws a card with a series of numbers (relating to the 1 – 4). They have to get their team to guess this order by giving clues, but then you are also giving clues to your opponent. For 3 – 8 players, games run 15 – 45 minutes.
FOR MORE: Buy Decrypto
#03 | Just One
Just One is the only board game in this genre to ever win a Spiel des Jahres award which alone justifies its existence on the list of the best word games, but it is also pretty fantastic. Just One is a cooperative party game in which you play together to discover as many mystery words as possible.
Players take turns having to guess a word. Before they do, the card with the word is revealed to the other players and they need to write down a clue to help them get there. It can be anything, but the hook is that duplicate clues get removed. It is more difficult than you think. The goal is to get a score as close to 13 as possible. For 3 – 7 players, games run about 20 minutes each.
FOR MORE: Buy Just One
#02 | Scrabble
Scrabble breezes onto the list of the best words game because it is one of those untouchable games that continue to get the respect it deserves. Scrabble came out in 1948, is one of the most well-known board games in human history and is still played today because it is the best at what it does.
You start by drawing 7 letter tiles. Players use these to form words on the gameboard. Each word laid out earns points based on the commonality of the letters used, with certain board spaces giving bonuses. But a word can only be played if it uses at least one already-played tile or adds to an already-played word. The high score wins, simple but devastating. For 2 – 4 players, games run about 90 minutes.
FOR MORE: Games Like Scrabble | Buy Scrabble
#01 | Codenames
Some people may be upset about Codenames taking the top spot on the list of the best word games over Scrabble, but we will say it, Codenames is that amazing. It almost seems like an accident how well communication flows and layers of difficultly and scenarios unfold themselves as you play. No discredit to the designer, it just all comes together so unbelievably beautiful that it doesn’t seem possible to construct such a thing.
The group is split into two teams. You are spies and you need to get your fellow operatives out of the field before your opponent does the same. This is represented by a grid of many words that secretly each have a blue operative, red operative, bystander or evil assassin under them. Each round, one member from each team gets to look at a decoder card showing all the locations and they need to communicate this to their team by giving 1-word answers. The key is that you need to give clues that apply to multiple spots to win. For 2 – 8 players, games run about 15 minutes per round.