What do you get if you cross scrabble with a crossword and chuck it in a Banana? Bananagrams obviously…
Bananagrams is a fast paced word game for 1-8 players where you will be trying to create a grid (crossword) of words faster than anyone else. It’s incredibly simple to play and super quick to set up too.
Depending on how many people are playing will depend on how many tiles each player starts with, but for a 2-4 player game each person gets 21 tiles dealt to them face down. To start the game you call out “Split” and at the same time everyone flips their tiles over and starts to try and create words from them, you will then need to build up a crossword using up all your tiles.
If you find yourself stuck for words to create you can trade in one tile for three from a pool – or ‘bunch’ in the middle of the table – these are all face down. Once you’ve used up your available letters you’ll shout “Peel” and take one tile from the bunch. Play continues like this until there are fewer tiles in the bunch than there are players and you then shout “Banana”. First person to do this wins, but if you’ve spelt anything wrong other players can call you out and you will be effectively eliminated as the ‘Rotten Banana’.
That’s pretty much it, there are a few other game variations, but they mostly revolve around the same rules and are just as easy to learn and play.
The fact that the game is so easy to learn makes it a great game to have especially for travelling around, but personally I just didn’t find it all that exciting. It’s not a bad game at all and I didn’t dislike it either, I just felt like it was missing a competitive edge. For the most part it felt like we were playing our own games as we had our heads down looking for words to create. It didn’t really feel like I was competing against anyone until right at the end when we realised the tiles were used up and it was more of a “Oh I won” moment rather than feeling like you’re closing in on the finish line.
At first I wasn’t sure we were playing it correctly because we just seemed so segmented from each other’s tiles. I just felt like there was an odd disconnect with everyone playing and the focus on creating your own words and crosswords kind of sapped the fun atmosphere.
But, maybe I’m just seeing the game in the wrong light; I’m used to these quick and simple ‘party’ style games being quite loud and a bit rowdy. Bananagrams is not either of these though, and maybe that’s ok, maybe you want something a little quieter or a little more chilled out, something a little more methodical and ‘thinky’ – yes, thinky is totally a word!
There is a nice challenge in finding the biggest words to create and making your mind work a little harder to try and use up the tricky tiles like X Y and Z. There doesn’t really feel like any reward for making a big word though, the only benefit too it is that it will give you better odds of linking another word in, but you could easily bash out mostly four letter words. For me, I just wish it was a little competitive a little more involved, maybe some scoring for bigger words. Maybe you could create your own game version where you add to one big crossword and tally points for words you’ve created, but you could steal from others by adding to them to make them longer words.
I will however say that the delivery of the game is great, the tiles are robust and the banana packaging is nice too, there is no unnecessary fluff added to the game, no large useless box etc… So it’s the perfect game for carrying around with you and with it’s ease of play you can set up and get going almost anywhere.
If you’re in the market for a game that will test your knowledge of how many words you know to show off to your friends, then you’ll probably enjoy Bananagrams quite a bit, but if you want something with a bit more of a competitive edge and more of a party game that will make you laugh, you might not find that here.