Most families have some games they take a bit too seriously, like UnoRisk, or Letting Grandpa Drive. And everyone has come across at least one bookish clan that takes Scrabble waaaaay too far. But even at the most cutthroat boards, you don’t usually have to keep track of kills. (Unless you’re arguing about what dictionary to use, then there’s bound to be a body count.)

But if you’ve always been the type wishing that Spelling Bees had more B-l-o-o-d, there’s finally a game for you (and me). Everybody House Games Babble Royale is a battle royale on a Scrabble board, and it has all the trappings of the tired “dead” genre

Babble Royale has a storm; it has skins for its weapons (letters), you earn money by getting kills, and you could even argue that it has different loadouts since paying customers can choose what letter to drop in with. It’s such a complete satire of the Battle Royale genre you might almost miss that it’s an incredibly addictive word game.

And unlike its rack and tile forebear, Babble Royale is addictive. After just one evening of sweaty, stimulating survival, Babble Royale reminded me why I hate Scrabble. Inevitably Scrabble becomes a parade of people taking 15 minutes to play words like “MATRIC,” then defending themselves in the small claims court that always forms around the dictionary. Scrabble pros somehow take this mind-numbing ritual and make it worse by memorizing combinations of letters which, when assembled, form a Voltron of points you can never overcome. What could be a fun and relaxing word game never is.

But Babble Royale manages to avoid most of the pitfalls of Scrabble simply by rewarding faster play. Because you can be killed by other players when your words get too close, you have to be quick on your feet. And because the board is dominated by the refuse of other fallen wordiors, you can’t sculpt immaculate works and bask in yet another triple word score on “QUIXOTRY.” You have to play fast and often pretty loose, relying on the game’s built-in dictionary to tell you that yes, actually, GI is a word. And now you’re dead because of it. Sorry.

The speed of play also means that, unlike with Scrabble, you can’t have just one game of Babble Royale. No matter what place I get, I find myself justifying another game. If I lost miserably, I have to redeem myself in the next round. If I got in the top three or four, then I’m so close it would be silly not to try for first place. And if I won, then I’m on a streak! It will never end! The turnaround between games is insanely low since the game can only hold 16 people at a time, and usually, between 150 and 200 people are playing it. And while the victor stays to the end of each game, most players will be queueing up again pretty frequently after they get murdered by their opponents’ opening AE. 

If you’re at all tempted and you have a PC with steam, check it out. Especially if you’re bad at word games. I need more kills to boost my ego.

Top Image: Everybody House Games

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