pic1229364_t[1]By Michael Chamberlain

Word on the Street Junior, by Jack Degnan and published by Out of the Box Publishing in 2010, is a family word game played in teams. Using a tug of war style mechanic, the teams will take turns to try to choose the best word to maximise their pull on the letters. Designed for 2-8 players, though realistically, there is no reason other than manageability that more couldn’t play. It takes between 20-30 minutes to play.

Word on the street Junior comes in a nice, bright sturdy box with an insert to hold everything snugly. Inside is a three-fold board depicting a road with a central area for the letters of the alphabet and two lanes on each side of it, 26 letter tiles, a short but clear rule book, a thirty second sand timer and a deck of category cards in a sturdy plastic stand.

Set up for the game is really simple. Just take the cards in their stand out of the box and place in reach of everyone, with the timer above the game board. Now place the letter tiles on their appropriate space on the central column on the board. It’s that quick and simple.

Teams will take turns in which a card will be revealed giving them a topic. This can be anything from “Something Orange” to “An Animal that is kept as a Pet”. The team then has thirty seconds (timed) to brainstorm and decide on a word. It can only be one word and has to be in the present tense but compound and hyphenated words are allowed. The team then spells out the word moving each letter tile as called one space to their side of the board. If a tile is pulled off the board the team gets to keep it as a point (so using a letter three times will pull the letter off your side of the board, assuming the opposing team doesn’t pull it back toward them first), first team to eight points wins. If the team has not won, play passes to the opposing team. Like set up, play is just that simple.

Word on the Street Junior is not a complex game, which given it says it’s for ages eight and up is far from surprising. I would question this age bracket, given that my six year old loves it and even my three year old was able to play along offering some words. This is a great family game and a fun way to help children develop a diverse vocabulary. When looking for “A word that describes an Elephant”, the game actively encourages the use of more complex words because Big is just three letters (which is not very much pull and is unlikely to score you many letter), whereas Massive, with its double ‘S’, is much stronger and, if you’re feeling really adventurous, there is no reason not to encourage them to use words of Brobdingnagian proportions (it’s in the Oxford dictionary). The tactical play in this is nice and simple even for younger players to grasp. If the other team is about to score a letter, it is really easy to be able to explain that you want to find words with that letter in to try to stop them. Word on the Street Junior is the family friendly version of Word on the Street, a game that can actually be played with the components in the junior version. If you wish to make it harder by removing the letters that are easier to score thereby making it hard to achieve the requisite eight points.

I can’t recommend this game enough to those gamers with young kids who are looking for an educational game that is a huge amount of fun to play. Simple rules and big fun, I’m really glad to have this one in my collection.

Mav.