RogerBW's Blog

Thirsty Meeples December 2019 20 December 2019

Back to the boardgame café. With images; cc-by-sa on everything.

More new releases this time, starting with Letter Jam. This is a cooperative word-guessing game: each player has one letter visible to everyone but them, and in games with fewer than six players there are spare cards too. Someone gives a clue spelling out a word with the letters visible to them, so you might for example end up knowing that your letter is the fourth one in "C?G?".

You have five letters to guess (I think this varies with difficulty level) and can't go back once you've committed yourself to one of them, and the number of guesses is quite restricted. There are various balancing mechanisms (for example, longer words exhaust the "spare" card decks sooner, giving more guessing tokens, while shorter ones seem more likely to be unambiguous) and we didn't find the winning strategy obvious, which is a good start.

I enjoyed it a great deal, and ended up taking home a copy (paying a 91p premium over BoardGamePrices' lowest offer to support a physical game shop).

We went on to Paranormal Detectives, clearly inspired by Mysterium, but with a more directly occult flavour; there are five things to find out about the ghost (who may not be a murder victim), players are competing although they share most of the clues, and the clues are given by various specialised means like a cut-down Tarot deck, a "talking-board" which indicates groups of letters, or the ghost writing with their finger on the player's back. (Some of these are restricted beyond what the cards indicate, so do check the rulebook too.)

We ended up going through this three times, each taking a turn at playing as the ghost – which feels much less intense than it does in Mysterium, because most of the time it's up to the players to decide what they're asking and by what means they're asking it. I don't plan to buy it at once (apart from anything else it's quite a large box) but I had a good time and would be happy to play again.

Finally, a couple of games of Timeline: General Interest, at which we all did remarkably badly (except for my easy win of the second game, when my cards were split between pre-history and the 20th century, while everyone else was splitting hairs in the 1800s).

[Buy Letter Jam at Amazon] [Buy Paranormal Detectives at Amazon] and help support the blog.


  1. Posted by Michael Cule at 08:08pm on 22 December 2019

    I found WordJam a bit of a brain strain though I’d like to give it another try.

    PARANORMAL DETECTIVES has a bit of a party game feel but also makes the multiple means of communication fit the ghost/medium theme better. I’d certainly recommend that one to a group with good impro skills.

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