I've been meaning to write about this since Jessica and I arrived home from Texas, and I'm finally taking a minute to do so. While we were there, Whitney taught us a really fun game that everyone needs to know about; the name, as you may have guessed, is Take Two.
Take Two is played with a bag of Scrabble letters. It can be played with up to 4 or 5 players--after that, letters simply run out too quickly. Rules are as follows:
Players place all of the Scrabble letters face down in the middle of a table.
Each player picks 5 unknown letters.
When everyone is ready, the all players flip over their letters.
Each player constructs his or her own crossword puzzle using the letters he or she picked up. The objective is to use all of one's letters contiguously. Anywhere letters touch must form a word, reading either left to right or top to bottom. If a blank is used twice, it must be the same letter in both contexts.
Once a player has arranged all of his or her letters in this contiguous crossword fashion, he or she yells "Take two!". As expected, everyone grabs two more tiles and adjusts their crosswords to incorporate the new letters.
A player can rearrange his or her crossword in any manner and at any time. When the game ends, however, only one crossword can be used to calculate points. All letters not touching that crossword are considered unused, even if they form words.
Play continues in this manner until the letters run out. If there aren't enough letters for everyone to take two at some point, deal with it however you like; just make sure the first two available tiles go to the person whose crossword is complete.
Words are deemed acceptable according Scrabble rules, but there's no "challenge" aspect. If at the end of the game one of your words is deemed invalid, you must remove it from your crossword and choose which of the separated halves you want to put in the unused letters pile.
When all of the letters are gone and a player has used all of his or her letters, the game ends. Each player calculates a score by summing the value of each word in his or her crossword and subtracting the value of each letter that is unused. Blanks are worth nothing both when used and when unused.
For those who dislike Scrabble because of its slow pace, boring turns, and restrictive form, this game can be a lot of fun. Those of you who like Scrabble will likely like this game, too. It's fast-paced, a lot of fun, and easy to explain. You can even play by yourself, like I did for a while one day. Check out my ultimate masterpiece, pictured below:
Every letter that's worth more than one point is used twice in this arrangement
If my count is correct, the above arrangement is 327 points. If you manage to arrange for a higher point value, send me a picture and I'll post some congratulations for you. But try it from scratch; don't just arrange them like above and try to tweak it. I'm sure it'd be trivial to eek out a few more points from my arrangement--I want to see some originality.