Word Off: A New Play on Words

Do you obliterate the competition when it comes to word games? Think you’ve conquered every lexicon challenge out there? Do you stay up late at night picturing Words with Friends letter combinations in your mind? Oh, maybe that last one is just me.

If word games are your thing you’ll want to check out Word Off. Read on and I’ll help you determine if you’re up for the challenge of going head-to-head with friends or complete strangers in this vocabulary throw down.


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Getting Your Word on (Er…Off)

The first thing you notice after creating an account (or signing in with Facebook) is that Word Off has a whimsical, halftone design complete with bright colors. I chose to login with Facebook instead of creating a new account.

There are several options for starting a new game. You can invite your Facebook friends, Twitter followers, start a game with a randomly picked stranger, or choose to play with someone sitting next to you by passing your iPad back and forth.

Home Screen

Once you login you're given an overview of your current games and options for starting new games with friends.

While I appreciated that Word Off doesn’t post to my Facebook wall for me when I win or lose games, I was disappointed with how many times I experienced trouble connecting with Facebook and I found myself having to reconnect more often than I would have liked. Also, there is no way to currently see which of your friends are already playing Word Off, so you have to manually invite anyone you’d like to play with. I don’t know about you, but I’m not a big fan of annoying my friends by sending out mass Facebook invites (I’m talking to you Farmville players).

One nice feature is the ability to set a notification for when a friend begins playing Word Off. I also noticed that because I signed in with Facebook I was automatically assigned an obscure username containing a random mix of letters and numbers. You can quickly change this in the settings and modify other things like your password and notifications as well.

How to Play

There’s a detailed instruction guide to take you through how to play, but let me lay it out for you here. Each player is assigned territories (hexagon shaped tiles) they control on opposite sides of the board. Your base is designated by a cloud icon covering that territory. Your base is incredibly important, if you lose your base then you lose the game.

Game Board

Here's what the typical Word Off game looks like with each color representing a player.

Each turn you form a word to gain new territories. You can form words by starting with a letter that is on a territory you control or next to one of your territories as long as it’s not controlled by the other player. However, you can take over the other player’s territories by including those letters in a word you form. Just like in a game like Words with Friends or Scrabble each letter has a point value. After you play a word the letters will change so the same word can’t be played twice.

It may sound difficult, but when you have the game board in front of you the concept is quite simple and addicting. There are two ways to win. Score the most points at the end of the 14 turns or capture your opponents base.

Boosts

You can play up to 3 boosts per game to really enforce your will on your competitor.

When you reach certain achievements you are given coins. Use those coins to buy boosts such as double word, triple letter, or sabotage to increase your score and secure your domination!

Other Features

If you’re like me, when you play these word games you’re tempted to take a stab and make up words every once in awhile just to see if they really are in the dictionary. One of the things I liked about Word Off is that after you play a word you’re given the part of speech and definition, so now you can learn exactly what words mean that you will never have a need to use ever again. But it will make you feel smarter and who doesn’t want that?

Definitions

While I guessed that Aza was a word, now I get to know the definition. At least I can use it to look smart next time I get into a conversation about carbon atoms, which will be... never.

I also really enjoyed all the statistics that are kept to help you track your success, or lack thereof. You can look at statistics, game history. and your weekly rank compared to others in the Word Off community. It’s great fun to see where you stack up on the Word Off leader boards. Some of the statistics listed are your win/loss ratio, tiles captured, average word score, and win streak to give you an idea. The developers also promise that achievements will be coming soon.

Stats

For all the nerds out there you can see a breakdown of all your stats playing Word Off.

If you want to reselect letters to play a word simply tap on the letter that started the word you are on to clear the word.

Unfortunately, like many other free turn-based games, Word Off plays ads between turns, but it’s not a guarantee there will be an ad after every turn. For me this is a small sacrifice in order to play for free, but for those who would rather pay for an ad free playing experience you’ll need to pay $1.99 by going to the Get More Coins section to get an ad free experience.

Challenging and Fun!

Maybe it’s just because I haven’t played much yet, but I found this to be one of the most challenging word games I’ve played yet. You’re more limited than other games in that you have to come up with words using only the letters that are next to each tile you choose to play. This can make coming up with high scoring words fairly difficult, but it also pushed me to be more creative in my word choices.

I really like that this game involves more strategy than most other word games that are currently available and the twist that there are two different ways to win. On top of that, the developers recently held the first Word Off tournament and it looks like they may be considering doing something like this more regularly in the future. That would be a pretty cool feature for battling the best of the best Word Off players!

Other than the few bug fixes that need to be worked out, such as the Facebook login issues, Word Off is very entertaining and I think this game has the potential to get popular fast!


Summary

Word Off is a fun and challenging twist on typical word games. Go head to head with opponents using boosts and strategy as you attempt to win by scoring the most points or capturing your competitor's base. Grab a friend and Word Off!

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