Thrift Treasure: Wandering Words

Thrift Treasure: Wandering Words

The vast majority of games we find at thrift are usually ones that were given as birthday or Christmas gifts and then played a handful of times (or not at all). Well-meaning parents and grandparents pick up something from their local Walmart or department store, really not knowing much about the game they are giving. And that’s OK. Games that make it to general retail have usually already proven their demand

Thanks to the internet, Amazon is a wonderful place to save a few dollars on your gift purchases. eBay is also a great resource for some of the hard-to-find titles that are out of print. But before these mega-sites leveled the playing field for small publishers, the only way an independent game designer could get their game into their customers’ hands was through guerrilla marketing and self-distribution.

This week we happened across Wandering Words, a game that was never in the stores. Sometimes finding these unique titles make the trek worth the while! - SahmReviews.com

Last Spring we told you about Py, a math game published here in our city of Bettendorf, Iowa. We’ve seen no less than five copies at our local Goodwill stores in the past year and certainly will see more in the future. This week we’re highlighting another 80’s-era game, Wandering Words, that was only available via mail order from the publisher, Jeng & Associates.

This week we happened across Wandering Words, a game that was never in the stores. Sometimes finding these unique titles make the trek worth the while! - SahmReviews.com

We’ve all played Scrabble at some point in our lives, and Wandering Words is an attempt to capitalize on the popularity of this classic. Similarly there are 100 included tiles with letters (and values) and a few special symbols. Four tile holders accommodate up to that many players and a plastic game board with recessed areas is reminiscent of a deluxe version of Scrabble.

This week we happened across Wandering Words, a game that was never in the stores. Sometimes finding these unique titles make the trek worth the while! - SahmReviews.com

Players take turns in the same manner by drawing to fill their hand with seven tiles. Play a valid word (no proper names, abbreviations, etc.) on the board with all letters touching each other. But unlike its square-tiled counterpart, Wandering Words uses triangular tiles than can touch as many as 12 other tiles on the board. To qualify they only have to touch on a point, so even though the board begins to fill up, there is an almost incalculable number of possible word paths you can use.

This week we happened across Wandering Words, a game that was never in the stores. Sometimes finding these unique titles make the trek worth the while! - SahmReviews.com

In the above example, I started the game with “EYE”, while the next player quickly got the “Qu” tile out of their hand with “QUEEN” by utilizing one of the E’s in my word. They chose to place their tiles farther out (but still touching) to open up the board for later play.

This week we happened across Wandering Words, a game that was never in the stores. Sometimes finding these unique titles make the trek worth the while! - SahmReviews.com

There are also a number of special tiles that when played allow you to double or triple your score, take an extra turn, steal your opponent’s word total or even make them subtract your word total from their score.

This week we happened across Wandering Words, a game that was never in the stores. Sometimes finding these unique titles make the trek worth the while! - SahmReviews.com

The included instructions on the box lid were very incomplete, and an online search for rule clarifications yielded very little. We chose to play these special tiles in front of us (instead of on the board) since they are one-use only. On the board they would clog up the words, and maybe that was their intention. If we ever come across some rule clarifications, we’ll be sure to update it here.

Each word scored is added to your total, and when all tiles are played (or no other plays can be made), deduct any tiles in your rack from your total and the person with the highest score wins!

Wandering Words is actually a very unique take on the standard word game. Because each letter can be paired with twelve different tiles (as opposed to four in Scrabble), finding a spot to play is not nearly as difficult. With better documentation and in the hands of a legitimate publisher, it could have probably been much more than a one-hit wonder.

You won’t find any of these on Amazon, but will occasionally see copies pop up on eBay for a reasonable price. As for Jeng & Associates – they published a couple other geometry-styled games in the late 80’s before disappearing completely. There is very little historical information about the company online, but if anyone has details about this St. Louis-based publisher, we’d love to hear from you!

Scott

About Scott

A former manufacturing executive, Scott now balances his family life with ownership and backend administration of websites such as SahmReviews.com, GiftCardCollector.com and a number of other online properties. He also is an occasional writer and full-time board game fanatic.

15 comments on «Thrift Treasure: Wandering Words»

  1. What a cool game! I have never seen this before, I have seen a similar one with numbers but not letters. I would love this to incorporate into our homeschooling.

  2. Chrysa says:

    Word games are my favorite. This one looks like it would be a lot of fun with the strategy involved.

  3. Erika says:

    This sounds like a neat game. I love Scrabble and this sounds like another fun word game. Thanks for the info on it! I will keep my eyes open on Ebay for it.

  4. I love word games. This looks like a step above the traditional kind I play.

  5. Wow. This looks like a cool game. I will need to look for it.

  6. These is really a nice game, we’ve been playing scrabbles with my Mom, Sister and hubby, and it was a great bonding game 🙂

  7. Elizabeth O. says:

    I love word games! It’s always fun to do with the kids because it improves their vocabulary! This one seems fun, it’s the first time I’ve heard of this game.

  8. Stephen says:

    That looks like a decently fun game. Back when I played Scrabble I sometimes had trouble coming up with words, or at least words that could fit. This opens those doors giving more options. After a game it could be fun to try and find new words that were added unintentionally, it looks a bit like a word search.
    Interesting to know as well that you live in IA. I grew up in SE IA.

  9. Katrina gehman says:

    i think it’s really cool that you can’t find it on amazon or anything. it kind of makes it more fun doing it the old school way once in awhile.

  10. Rosey says:

    It reminds me of Triominos and Scrabble. An awesome mix of the two. 🙂

  11. CourtneyLynne says:

    Ok now this looks like a neat game! My daughter is kinda young for games like this, but she’s so letter obsessed, I could totally see her wanting to play something like this on game night in the near future since she plays many on the iPad kinda like this!

  12. Lisa Rios says:

    Such word games are always so much fun & exciting & also a good way to increase your knowledge as well. Wandering Words looks like a great option to try out with your young kids.

  13. I love games with words – any kinds of words. This seems challenging and even though it would be hard at first for my son, like it would help him to develop his vocabulary even more.

  14. christina aliperti says:

    This is great. We are always looking for new games for family game night. I have been getting bored with the usual.

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