Saturday, June 3, 2023

How to Play Bananagrams

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Play Bananagrams is a fast-paced, competitive word game with similarities to both Scrabble and Boggle. Like Boggle, gameplay happens quickly and doesn’t involve turns. Like Scrabble, each player builds their own interlocking grid of words until they’ve used all their letters. Try an alternate version of the game if you’re playing by yourself, or if you want to speed things up a bit!. It is really simple to play Bananagrams.

Method 1

Learning the Traditional Rules

Place all the tiles facedown on a flat surface. Unzip the banana-shaped pouch and dump out all 144 letter tiles in a central spot that’s within arm’s reach of all players. It’s best to play on a hard, flat surface such as the floor or a table. No letters should be visible once you’ve flipped over all the tiles.

  • This group of facedown tiles is known as the “bunch.”
  • Mix the letters around a bit after flipping them over to ensure that they’re randomly distributed.
Each person takes a set amount of tiles, depending on the number of players. The number of starting tiles for each player is determined by the number of people playing the game. You can play Bananagrams with a minimum of 2 people and a maximum of 8.

  • 2-4 players, draw 21 tiles each.
  • 5-6 people, draw 15 tiles each.
  •  7-8 people, draw 11 tiles each.
Start the game by saying “split” and flipping over your tiles. This is the signal for everyone to flip over their tiles so the letters are face-up. 
Arrange your tiles into words that intersect like a crossword. Words can be arranged vertically or horizontally, but not diagonally. The goal is to be the first to use all of your starting letters in your word grid. You cannot use proper nouns or abbreviations.

  • Each player creates their own, personal word grid (unlike Scrabble, where all players add on to one group grid).
  • Everyone should be playing simultaneously—there are no “turns” in Bananagrams. You are racing the other players to be the first to use all your letters.
  • Consider starting off with a longer word, which gives you more opportunities to build new words.
Exchange 1 letter tile for 3 new ones if you’re having trouble using it. This is called “dumping.” Many people dump tiles if they have too many vowels, too many consonants, or even just a tricky letter like an X or Q. Place the tile you are dumping back in the bunch, say “dump!” then draw 3 new tiles.

  • Be sure to dump your letter far away in the pile so you don't pick it up immediately if you draw again.
Say “peel” once you have used all your tiles. Every player must draw 1 new tile from the bunch. Someone else may use all their letters first, in which case you still must draw a new tile when they say “peel.”

  • It's always a good idea to double-check all your words are valid and spelled correctly before peeling.
  • An effective strategy is to “peel” as fast as possible, several times in a row. An influx of new tiles may slow your opponents down!
Incorporate the new tile into your grid of words. Tiles can be rearranged in any way you want once you’ve drawn a new tile. Once you’ve used the tile, you can yell “peel” again.

  • In this example, the player has a newly drawn T. By replacing the D in FOOD with the T and creating FOOT, the player was able to place the D at the end of TIE to make TIED, effectively using all of their tiles.
  • Two letter words like QI, IT, and OE are useful placeholders for new letters until you can work them into a larger word.
Continue peeling until the bunch has fewer tiles than the number of players. At this point, the first person to use up all their tiles in their word grid wins the game.

  • Sometimes, the number of tiles divides evenly among players.
Yell “bananas” if you are the first player to use up all your tiles. Since there are no more tiles in the bunch to draw, the game is now over. The player who called “Bananas!” first is the winner.

  • If 2 players yell “Bananas!” at the same time, you have a tie.
Inspect the winning grid for disqualifying words. If the player has used any illegal words, then someone says “Rotten banana!” and the player is disqualified.

  • When the number of tiles left in the bunch is fewer than the remaining players, the first person to use up all their tiles again exclaims “Bananas!” Their grid should be inspected for disqualifying words as well. If they are all correct, this player is the winner. It is really simple to play Bananagrams.
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