Number of Players: 2 – 6
Game Time: 30-60 minutes
Description: Letter Jam is a cooperative game where each player is given a word (made of individual letters) from the person to their left. But, the trick is, you can’t see your letters. Each person has their own word that they have to sort out – and, since it’s cooperative, everyone has to get their word right to win.
How do you sort it out? Well, people at the table have to give clues based on letters that they see at the table, plus a dummy player’s letter, plus a “?” in the middle of the table. For example, if you can see the letters L D D ? R E, you can say that you have a word that uses 6 letters: 5 from people, 1 from the middle or dummy player. If your team agrees that your hint will give the most information, then you have to put numbers in front of the letters in order – 1 in front of L, 2 by the ?, 3 in front of D, and so on. Everyone writes it down and, if their letter was included, they leave that spot blank (and, possibly, figure out the word).
With a timing mechanism that gives you extra “time” (rounds) if everyone gives a hint at least once and “bonus letters” from people who deduce their letters more quickly, there’s a lot of words and letters flying around at the table with this clever game.
Marti: Letter Jam was definitely one of my hits of Origins 2019, and it was a ton of fun to play it with Sarah and a bunch of people we didn’t know. There’s no other way to describe this game than clever. Deducing what it is that is in front of you while also trying to help others figure out their letters is quite the twist.
One of the best parts of the game is the fact that you can tailor the difficulty to what your group would like to play. How many letters do you want in everyone’s word? Not only that, but you can play a more difficult game than someone else. Have a younger kid in the group? They can do a 3 or 4 letter word. Have someone who is stellar at deduction? Then give them 5 or 6 letters to get through. It’s cooperative, though, so you don’t want to make it too hard for one individual.
In short, this game is going to be CGE’s next big hit. With its unique twist of Hanabi-style play mixed with a solid word game (that doesn’t require you to know big words like Scrabble does), it’s sure to entertain any gaming group.
Sarah: First and foremost, I want to thank Paul Grogan of Gaming Rules! for his first class demo of Letter Jam. Paul is an awesome games teacher who has a wonderful method for teaching game rules, as you need to learn them.
Letter Jam is an ingenious deduction game using the letters of the alphabet and the other players clues to figure out the unseen word in front of you over a series of rounds. Combining unseen cards (a la Hanabi) with a word game is a marvelous concept.
The scoring of the game isn’t the overall point, the experience of the game and the challenge of deciphering your word correctly is the goal that everyone is collectively going for. Some players might be really confident about what their word is but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are correct. It would be nice to have everyone get their own word correct, but the odds are definitely not in your favor.
I also love the picture of a strawberry as the cover of the game. It fits perfectly, you are trying to figure out the letters of your words via the context of other letters “jammed” into an altogether different word. Strawberry jelly or jam, is one of my favorites.
Overall, Letter Jam is an excellent game that will provide a lot of fun moments while making everyone around the table contemplate what their own word could possibly be.
Letter Jam is scheduled to come out later this year from Czech Games Edition (CGE). Limited Release at GenCon, then a full release a few weeks later.
Marti and Sarah