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Lexicant

14th June 2012

The newest game added to Pencil and Paper Games is Lexicant, a word game with a few interesting twists.

How to play

Here's how to play Lexicant.

The first player writes a letter on a sheet of paper. The players then take turns in adding a letter to the beginning or end of this stem to form part of a word, but avoiding actually completing a word. The first player forced to create a word loses.

Words only count if they are at least three letters long, so, for example, a player can make "IT" without losing. However, if the next payer adds "H" to make "HIT", they lose.

A key part of the game is that the player adding a letter can choose to bluff that they have a word in mind. The next player can then choose to challenge them to reveal their word. If they cannot name a word, the bluffer loses; otherwise the challenger loses.

Example

Here's an example illustrating the subtlety of Lexicant's strategy.

Suppose you're Red, it's your turn, and the letters so far are:

RYT.gif

The only possible words at this stage are:

  • EVERYTHING (7 letters)
  • STORYTELLER (8 letters)
  • STORYTELLERS (9 letters)
  • STORYTELLING (9 letters)

The three words with an odd number of letters are all an even number of moves away, and so will lose the game for you. The only winning word for you is STORYTELLER.

However, the order in which you play the letters is critical. If you add the E, your opponent can play as follows:

STORYTELLING.gif

You have to complete the word STORYTELLING, a win for Blue. The key move is to add the O, which allows you to force the word to be STORYTELLER:

STORYTELLER.gif

This forces Blue to complete the word, resulting in a win for you.

New ranking feature

Lexicant incorporates a new ranking feature, based on your score relative to the computer's score. Your rank starts at Junior, and proceeds through four steps to Master, the highest rank. The computer's strength of play increases according to your rank.

We hope that this new ranking feature allows beginners to have fun playing against the computer, while providing demanding play for stronger players.

We hope to extend the ranking feature to the other games in due course.

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