Cost: Free (with in-app purchase options)
Imagine yourself in a dark hallway. You don’t know the shape of the room, or which way you need to go. The only way to navigate is by playing Scrabble with round tiles that light the way. As you place each word, more of the space becomes visible. Welcome to QatQi.
Named for two words that use Q without U, qat an evergreen plant whose leaves are chewed as a stimulant and qi, life energy in Chinese philosphy, QatQi provides a puzzle for every day, ranging from easy to excruciating. ‘ You might have one small room and 11 letters, or several rooms and over a hundred letters. All the while, you try to structure your words to branch from each other in ways that will let you build into each new room, and place letters on spaces containing coins to collect extra points. Like many word games, longer words are worth more points, and being mindful of word spacing will give you opportunities to get rid of your letters by building off of words you have already played. Continue reading
Cost: Free, upgrade for .99
I’ve played a lot of app games this year, and while many of them are fun and compelling, Letterpress stands out.’ It is every bit the addictive game of the moment, but two qualities make it particularly engaging: it is social and intellectually stimulating.’ Playing against friends makes this game about connection and competition and the way you play is a challenge’ of vocabulary and strategy.’ It is a simple game, but it involves’ a little more thinking than your average app game, which has caused it to capture my attention.’ It seems I am not the only one.’ Letterpress came out in October and was an instant hit; according to this post from the New York Times Bits Blog, which also gives some background on the app’s creator Loren Brichter, it was downloaded around 60,000 times on its first day.
The game’s grid reminds me of Boggle, but instead of making words only with letters that touch, you can use any letter on the board. Sometimes you’ll have lots of vowels and tons of words will spring to your mind, while other times you’ll find yourself struggling to use a z, an x, or a q with no u. All of the letters on the board must be used to end the game. In addition to gaining points for the letters you use, you claim letters as territory. Each player gets a color and your goal is to capture letters with your color and take control of the board. Using a letter shades it a lighter color and means that if your opponent uses this letter in their next turn, they can steal a point from you. Surrounding a letter on all sides with other letters you’ve used turns it a brighter shade of your color and means that your opponent will not get points for that letter if they use it. Continue reading