Board Game Review: Unspeakable Words Deluxe Edition

Unspeakable Words Deluxe Edition by Playroom Entertainment is a Cthulhu themed word game where your sanity is measured by the number of Cthulhu pawns you can hold on to.  The deluxe edition is an update to the original Unspeakable Works game, and features artwork by John Kovalic depicting the characters from H.P Lovecraft. Additionally, it includes more cards, and 10 more pawns than the original edition.  Unspeakable Words Deluxe Edition can accommodate 2 to 8 player game, is recommended ages 10 to adult, and the approximate play time is 30 minutes

Game Contents

  • 148 Letter Cards
    • The letter cards have values based on the number of angles the letter contains, for example,  a S has 0 points and an W has 3 points.   
  • Special cards ( in the Kickstarter edition)
    • Unspeakable Letter (wild letter card)
    • Elder sign (regain 1 sanity if successful with sanity roll)
    • Yellow Sign (discard to reroll sanity check)
  • 20 sided die (glows in the dark with a Cthulhu image to represent 20)
  • 40 Cthulhu pawns (8 colors, 5 each, 10 pawns glow in the dark)

Additional items needed

  • Pencil and paper to record words and keep score

Game Play

Initially the letter cards are shuffled and each player is dealt seven cards.  Each player also received 5 Cthulhu pawns of the same color. The remaining letter cards are placed face down as a draw pile.  On each turn a player can either play a word (3 letters or more) or discard all seven cards and draw seven new cards.  If they discard all seven cards their turn ends and they score no points.  If the player is able to build a word, which meets the criteria in the rules, then the player then earns the number of points displayed on the cards in their words. Next, they must then roll a Sanity Check by rolling the 20 sided die.  The number they roll must be the same or greater than the number of points in their words.  Regardless of the roll the player earns their points.  If they succeed with their roll the player just draws cards to return to seven cards in their hand, and their turn ends.  If they fail their roll, however, they player has to take one of their Cthulhu pawns and discard it in the center.  When a player only has one pawn remaining they no longer need to create real words (since they have lost most of their sanity). If a player loses their last pawn they are out of the game.  To win a player must reach 100 points and succeed on their sanity check on their final turn.

Family Game Assessment

Unspeakable Words Deluxe Edition is a lighthearted word game.  The words do not need to be complicated or utilize an extensive vocabulary, however the strategy and multiple steps at each turn make it challenging for younger players. The rating of 10 to adult seems quite appropriate, you might be able to go slightly younger with an 8 or 9 year old if they are savvy with multi-step turns and are good at building words.  Even though this is a Cthulhu themed game the illustrations on the card and the Cthulhu pawns are cute not scary.  The flexibility with the number of players is also an asset for bigger families or when there are several friends or family visiting.

Conclusion

Unspeakable Words  Deluxe Edition is an amusing word game.  The sanity checks you need to roll with each word played keeps the game light and silly as each player slowly loses their “sanity”.  I was able to play with 7 other adults and we were “assisted” by one of the other adult’s 4.5 year old.  Even though it was a game with 8 players, it moved quickly and kept everyone entertained even when they had been eliminated from the game.

This game is a great addition to any family game collection with older children.

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