Last night while playing Scrabble, I started to think that what Scrabble needs is some branded editions, like other board games have. The new editions would have branded boards and – crucially – a new word list that players can draw from in addition to the standard Scrabble-legal sets of words.
Of course, once we finished the game, a quick Google told me that this already exists. The primary example seems to be Harry Potter Scrabble.
Well, of course it exists. However, it seems to be a bit hit and miss.
First, the game introduces some new bonus rounds when you land on squares that the traditional game calls ‘triple letter score’ etc. Sounds complicated, and gets in the way of raw Scrabble gameplay.
Secondly, while Harry Potter Scrabble does introduce new words you’re allowed to use, the list seems… Pretty rubbish. Borrowing this image from an Amazon reviewer, the list of words (I’m not even sure if this is the whole list?) has a number of issues:
First of all, it’s not a very long list, is it? There are surely a good few hundred words from the Harry Potter universe that could end up on a list like this. Surely Harry Potter Scrabble should allow words like Harry, Potter, or Hermione? (Perhaps these are allowed, but shown elsewhere in the pack.) I get that Scrabble doesn’t normally allow proper nouns, but it also doesn’t normally allow Gryffindor, so why stop there?
Secondly, there are a number of… phrases in the list above. Multi-word words. Knight Bus. Petrificus Totalus. Are both words legal? Must they be played together? Are there enough Scrabble letters in one hand to play such long words?
Thirdly, you’ll see that a number of the special Harry Potter words on this list are… actual words. Words which would normally be legal in Scrabble anyway. Most of the ‘G’ section is just standard English words which you could play in Scrabble. I can’t believe they’re clawing around for HP-related words to the extent that they need to add GHOUL, GRIM or GNOME as a special word.
Fourth: “Hallows, The Deathly”. What? No. Just, no. Just, how would this even be playable? And when? Stop it.
And finally, look at the last word in the list. “Poyjuice”. Surely Polyjuice? But no. “Poyjuice”. Good grief.
I love this succinct review from another Amazon buyer:
Cool, however some words are spelt wrong in the hp word guide. Harry Potter fans are insane and pick up on the slightest mistake from 500ft. Try harder
For the brief period while I was blissfully unaware of the existence of Harry Potter Scrabble, the version in my head was simpler, but better executed. Obviously. The main part of it would be an ornately designed booklet of extra words which can be played in addition to normal words. The booklet would be glossy, maybe A5 in size, and quite chunky, and it would act as more of a Scrabble dictionary than just a glossary or word list.
The booklet would be illustrated, either with shots from the film, or illustrations related to the books, and definitions would be well-written and strictly adhere to the canon.
It could even be a kind of spell book design!
Imagine what could be done with a lot more care and attention. I don’t even really care about Harry Potter, but I can just imagine this kind of product done well, and the kind of fans who would adore it. And the price the manufacturers could charge for it…
The poyjuice thing just makes me think of that Simpsons gag about Bart’s blind faith in the Krusty Brand Seal of Approval:
Before I got round to actually seeing if my idea already existed, I quickly realised how many of these the makers of Scrabble could produce.
Disney Scrabble (which does seem to exist but is no longer available)?
These could feature lists of huge numbers of words from across a vast array of products. And the booklets could be so well designed.
Or, following Monopoly’s lead, how about London Scrabble, or Great Britain Scrabble? Place names are legal. Think of the international market, Scrabble makers, there are LOADS of places you could localise this to! Maybe Tube or TfL Scrabble – all tube stops are legal.
The possibilities are endless.
I realise you can just play by these rules if you want – that’s the beauty of Scrabble’s simplicity: arguing about whether a word is legal with your opponent is half the fun.
But I can just see a beautiful array of well-branded, well-designed Scrabble Editions which would appeal to fans of franchises which are lucky enough to have proper fandoms who would pony up a not insignificant amount of dough to own a Nintendo or Pokemon or Disney edition of Scrabble.
Anyway. What was it I was supposed to be doing?