Our step-by-step guide to the rules of how to play Letter Jam board game. This is a cooperative game wherein each round, every player has a letter that everyone else can see. But no one can see their own letter. Everyone either wins or loses collectively. The game is for 2 – 6 players at ages 10+. The rules for how to playLetter Jam are somewhat complex but are intuitive enough to have down by one game done.
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HOW TO PLAY LETTER JAM – WHAT IS IT?
Players try to find words that can be made with the letters they see. The player with the best clue spells it by marking the letters with numbered tokens. Your letter’s position in the clue helps you guess what it might be. Then you can move on to a new one! Guess them all before clues run out, and unscramble your hidden word.
HOW TO PLAY LETTER JAM – STEP BY STEP
Time Needed: Approximately 45 minutes.
This is a step by step guide for how to play Letter Jam the popular cooperative word board game. Additional notions and special rules can be found below the list. These will be referenced for your convenience.
1. SETUP | Place Components on the Table
The first step of how to play Letter Jam setup is to put out the base game components. Put in the center of the table the Numbered Tokens and the wildcard
2. SETUP | Put Out Setup Card
There are four total setup cards that correlate with the number of players in the game. This is showing the top right corner. Place the one card in the center that matches the number of players. It has red and green dots on it, place the clue tokens that match these colors on each dot. The numbers in the bottom right tell you how many there should be.
3. SETUP | Make Secret Words For Next Player
Shuffle the deck of letter cards and divide them roughly amongst all the players. Everyone looks through their stack and makes a 5-letter word for the player on their right. Discard the rest of the cards and shuffle up the five letter cards. Pass those to the player on the right. Do NOT look at the word cards you were passed.
*There is also an app to help with this you can download.
4. SETUP | Make a Central Deck with the Discards
Take all the discarded cards (those not used to make the 5-letter words), shuffle them together and make a central deck. Place it in the middle of the table.
5. SETUP | Place Secret Word Cards
Each player puts their 5-letter word cards in a row face down in front of them. They then place the leftmost card in one of the plastic stands facing outwards toward the other players and so they cannot see their own letter.
6. SETUP | Take Pencil & Guessing Sheet
Each player gets a pencil and guessing sheet to write down letters during the game. Everyone folds the sheet to make a privacy screen to hide what they are writing.
7. SETUP | Make Non-Player Stands
You always play with all 6 stands. If you have less than 6 players, you need to make dummy players. Give each a green clue token and a random stack of cards matching the number on the setup card. After making the stacks, put the top one in the stand so all players can see them.
8. GAMEPLAY | Look at the Letters
At the start of each round, all players can see one letter in every card stand except their own. Look for a word you can spell using the letters you see. The same letter can be used multiple times, even if it is on only one card.
9. GAMEPLAY | Choose a Cluegiver
Players discuss their potential clues to see who has the best one. You must not give any information about players’ letters (see Cluegiver Rules below). Do not talk about a specific player’s letter and do not talk about what kind of word your clue is. All players choose the cluegiver together.
10. GAMEPLAY | Take a Clue Token
Each token on the setup card represents a clue someone can give. When you give your first clue, take a red clue token. If you already have a red token from a previous round, see Counting Clues below.
11. GAMEPLAY | Spell the Clue
The cluegiver spells out the clue using the numbered tokens. The first token marks the first letter, the second marks the second, and so on.
12. GAMEPLAY | Write the Clue Down
If the cluegiver uses your letter in the clue, write down the clue on your guessing sheet. Write a question mark to represent your unknown letter. Keep your guessing sheet hidden so no one accidentally sees their letter on your sheet.
13. GAMEPLAY | Try to Guess your Letter
You should have one or more guesses for your letter. Write them down.
14. GAMEPLAY | Decide Whether to Move On
If you are mostly sure about your letter, tip it over face down. Record your guess in the corresponding box at the bottom of your guessing sheet. If you aren’t sure, you can keep the same letter for the next round. The choice is yours.
Once everyone has decided, those who chose to move on return their cards to their rows without looking at them. You never look at your own cards.
15. GAMEPLAY | Setup for Next Round
All players who chose to move on get new letters. Whenever you return a letter to your row, move your stand one space right and give it the next letter.
You must progress from left to right. Once you move on from a letter, you can never return to it. If a nonplayer stand is used in the clue, discard its letter and draw a new one from its stack.
Once players start taking new letters, return all numbered tokens to the center of the table.
16. GAME END | No More Clues
There are two ways the game can end: (1) If you end a round with no clue tokens for the next round, the game is over. (2) The game ends with leftover tokens if everyone decides they don’t need any more clues.
17. END GAME | Spell Secret Word
You should have a guess for each letter in your row. Hopefully, these letters can be rearranged to spell a word. When you think you’ve figured out your word, write it down. Keeping cards face down, rearrange them to spell your secret word.
18. END GAME | Use Bonus Cards or Wildcard to Help
When trying to spell a word, any of your letter cards can be replaced by a bonus card or the wildcard. Simply place it face up on top of the card you want to replace. You can use more than one of these cards from the middle of the table, but no card can be used by more than one player.
19. END GAME | Reveal Words
Take turns. It is recommended to start with the players who are most sure of their words. You don’t have to spell the word you were given. If you were given HORSE, you can spell SHORE. You can use a bonus E to spell SHEER or even HEROES. Your goal is just a correctly spelled English word whose meaning you know without looking it up. And it counts even if you thought you were spelling something else.
20. WINNING | Get Words Correct
If more or less everyone has spelled a word, then you have all more or less won. All players share in the victory equally. Of course, the goal is for everyone to correctly spell a word, but it’s hard to play a perfect game. If you get close, that’s close enough.
To come up with a score to determine how you did you can determine a score. Incorrect words score 1 point for each of the original letters guessed correctly. For correctly spelled words you get – 3 times its original length + 1 point per letter beyond that length + 1 point per available green token left on the setup card.
- 16 – 31 = Edible *
- 32 – 47 = Tasty **
- 48 – 63 = Yummy ***
- 64 – 79 = Delicious ****
- 80+ = Supersweet *****
The back of the setup card also has the above scale.
HOW TO PLAY LETTER JAM – KEY INFORMATION
WHEN DISCUSSING CLUES
- How many letters are in your clue.
- How many players it helps, but not which ones.
- How many nonplayer stands it uses, but not which ones.
- How many bonus letters it uses, but not which ones.
- Whether it uses the wildcard.
Do Not Say:
- “This helps everyone but Hank.”
- “My clue is sort of obscure.”
- “Can my clue be a place name?”
- “You two have the same letter!”
- “I see nothing but vowels.”
- “I use that letter twice.”
- “Sarah’s letter is hard to use.”
The wildcard can be used to represent one letter. Simply place numbered tokens beside it to show where it is used in your clue. If the letter appears more than once in the word, you use the wildcard multiple times. However, you cannot use it to represent two different letters in the same word. The cluegiver is not allowed to say what letter the wildcard represents.
The tokens on the setup card represent the clues you can give. You always take a token when you give a clue.
With 4, 5, or 6 players:
Take a red token when you give your first clue. If you have already given one, take a green token whenever you give a clue. Initially, the only available green tokens are those on the leaves. If none are left, you must choose a cluegiver who can take a red token – that is, a player who has not yet given a clue. When all red tokens are gone, everyone has given at least one clue and your team is rewarded – the green token in the center of the flower becomes available.
In a 3-player game:
You take red tokens for your first two clues.
In a 2-player game:
You take red tokens for your first three clues. Once all red tokens are gone, three green tokens become available.
The game always uses 6 stands, so each player will always see 5 letters. Cards in nonplayer stands can be used in any clue, just as if they were players’ letters.
At the end of the round, a nonplayer stand discards its letter if it was used in the clue. (Discards can go in the box.) Give it the next card from the top of its stack.
When the last card in the stack is drawn, the green clue token is revealed. Place it on one of the leaves of the setup card. Your team has earned one additional clue.
Once its stack is empty, the nonplayer stand draws its new cards from the deck in the middle of the table.
Late in the game, some players will run out of letter cards. If you return your last card to your row, draw a new one from the deck. Place your stand in front of your row to show you are done with your original letters. When someone uses this extra letter in a clue, you can try to guess it. State your guess out loud, then look at the card. If you guess correctly, it becomes a bonus letter. Place the bonus letter near the wildcard. (If you guess wrong, discard it.)
Whether you guessed right or wrong, draw a new letter from the deck. There is no limit to the number of bonus letters your team can have. If multiple players are guessing for bonus letters, they may guess in any order. Nonplayer stands cannot make bonus letters.
A bonus letter can be used to help spell a clue as though it were a letter in a nonplayer stand. After it is used in a clue, discard it. Bonus letters can also be used at the end of the game.
- 64x Letter Cards
- 1x Wildcard
- 4x Setup Cards
- 1x Pad of Guessing Sheets
- 8x Numbered Tokens
- 6x Pencils
- 6x Card Stands
- 6x Red Clue Tokens
- 9x Green Clue Tokens
- 1x Rulebook
HOW TO PLAY LETTER JAM – IN CLOSING
We hope you can now say you know how to play Letter Jam. This cooperative secret word game brings together the ideas of communication limits and a little bit of word knowledge. You do not have to be a wordsmith to play this game well, but it helps. This is more about good clues and getting the right information from them, collectively as a group. The rules for how to play Letter Jam can seem like a lot, but you will be up and running in no time.