The aim in WORDCHAIN© is to win by gaining the highest score by the end of the game. This is done by succeeding players forming a continuous ‘chain’ of words 'linked' by the last card (the 'link' card) in the word formed by the previous player. The 'link' card/letter is generally used as the first letter in the word to be formed but may be used anywhere in the word (for a penalty). 

The game continues until an agreed score is attained (1,000 for shorter games or, say, 5,000 for longer games) or one player has no cards left (or no player can form another word) or when an agreed time has elapsed, eg. one hour...or at another agreed end point. 

The ultimate aim is to have fun and learn and develop literacy (vocabulary, spelling, articulation, comprehension, reading and writing), numeracy, tactical and social interaction skills and to thereby further develop self confidence.

Players are strongly urged to start with the twelve Basic Rules and add further rules as you become familiar with the game. Players are also urged to play initial games with a separate non-playing scorer.

                                                           WORDCHAIN - RULES, SCORING AND PLAYING


These rules primarily apply to WORDCHAIN and to more experienced players (and any may be partly or fully put aside by agreement). However, any of the following rules may also be agreed as "house rules" for any of the games as appropriate in the WORDSPORT suite of some sixty games.

1. The agreed dictionary (or other source if a variant, eg. an atlas for geography, etc.) is the final authority on the acceptability of a word. Proper names, slang, foreign language words, etc. may only be used if in the agreed reference or if agreed as a variant (or ‘house rule’). In the standard game the same word may be used repeatedly throughout the game.

2. The cards are split into two decks...most consonants in one deck and vowels...A, E, I, O, U and Y's and S's, and Multicards in the other deck. Again, if agreed the cards may remain as one deck (increasing the chance of vowels and consonants being dealt unevenly).

3. The decks are shuffled, cut by players and randomly restacked face down in the centre. Each player then takes a portion of the consonants deck and displays the bottom card and replaces the other cards before the next player does the same. The player with the card closest to the start of the alphabet is the first dealer and scorer (for that round). A recut is done by players with equally high (closest to A for this activity) cards or who draw a Multicard. Suit seniorities may be applied for the 'cut' if agreed.

4. Agreed duration of the game, other rules and variants if any are confirmed and both decks are well shuffled by the dealer and an agreed number of cards for the game are dealt to players. This will generally be 12 cards ...6 consonants and 6 vowels, S's, Y's or Multicards ....but should allow for at least twenty cards to remain in the remaining decks. The degree of difficulty varies as more cards are dealt per player. The number of players is mainly determined by the size of the playing area. Players may partner if agreed.

5. After the first deal the two separate remnant decks (if not combined) are stacked next to the dealer; one for (most) consonants (as above) and one for vowels ('A', 'E', 'I', 'O', 'U' and 'Y' as well as the S & Multicards) EXCEPT for the top card from the consonants deck (the first 'link' card) which is placed in the centre and face up. The 'link' card (and 'link' letter) is generally to be the first card (and letter) of the first word to be formed. The last card in each play then becomes the next ‘link’ card for the next word. The standard rules allow for the 'link' card to be also used anywhere in the following word for a penalty.

6. The cards when dealt to players may be partly or wholly displayed or held in each player’s hand (at each player’s own discretion). This has participation and educational and tactical implications.

7. The player to the left of (clockwise from) the dealer then may try to form the first word (generally starting with the 'link' card) to score points. The player announces and spells the word before placing the cards on the playing area. Valid words formed score points as shown on each card (including the 'link' card) with bonuses for colours, suits and/or sequences, etc. and any applicable penalties. Alternatively, by agreement in a simplified form of the game for junior players the words may be scored using the Basic Rules as one point per card/letter in the word...and with or without bonuses and/or penalties. 

8. The maximum and minimum word length is left to individual players in the standard competition game but either or both may as a variant be determined by a throw of dice or by agreement at the start of the game. 

9. If dice are used then the player whose turn it is to play throws one or two dice (whichever is agreed). That player may then try to form a word containing up to the number of letters equal to the dice throw ...excluding one (subject to the next rule).

10. If two dice are used and a double is thrown then the player has the option of forming and scoring for two words...each of up to the throw on one dice but must use the ‘link’ card in each word. The last letter of the second word formed becomes the new ‘link’ card as play continues.

11. When a word has been formed and scored it is collapsed (or compressed) and the cards stacked separately beside each applicable deck (unless agreed to be inserted randomly and one by one into the appropriate consonant or vowel deck - or the one deck if combined by agreement - except for the last card which is the new ‘link’ card. This card remains placed in the centre and face up...ready for the next player.

12. After forming and scoring for a word the player is then dealt cards in any proportion of vowels or consonants that player wishes from the decks of consonants and/or vowels (unless only one deck is agreed) equal in number to cards used to form the word just formed. 

13. Any player may choose at her/his turn to forego that turn and as an alternative be dealt five additional cards. This may only be done once.

14. By agreement a game may be limited to an agreed time, when a designated score is attained, or otherwise as agreed. 

15. In the standard game players may hold their cards in hand or lay all cards on the table in front of them.

16. Usually the reference book will only be used for a challenge to a word. By agreement players may be allowed to refer at any time to the agreed dictionary (or atlas, etc. depending on the theme of the game). All words in the body of the dictionary (or atlas, etc.) used as the authority for the game are permitted. Two word names may only be used by prior agreement, eg. VICE VERSA in a standard game, NEW YORK in a themed game allowing city names or NEW ZEALAND in a themed game for countries, etc.

17. If a word is challenged successfully then the first challenger gets the score for that word (if an invalid word). If the challenge is unsuccessful the challenging player loses the score for that word...and the forming player gets the same score.

18. Cards held at the end of a game are NOT counted against the player (unless agreed otherwise at the outset).

19. Issues not covered by a rule and any variations to be adopted for the game are to be decided by a majority vote (or an independent adjudicator if preferred). For example, for a more challenging game it may be agreed that a word may only be used once in a game, or only suited words may be formed, or only sequenced words may be formed, etc.

                                                                                   SCORING IN WORDCHAIN. 


A. For less skilled players the scoring can be simplified as a point per card in the word formed (including the ‘link’ card) with no bonuses and with no penalties for challenges.

B. For the standard (and tournament) game and for skilled players the points on all cards in the formed word as well as bonuses and penalties are calculated (rounded up at each calculation) to get the score for each play. This is subject to the following scoring rules.

C. ‘Multicards’ (with the 'joker' symbol) have no numerical value for scoring but are treated as any suit and letter/number chosen by the holding player for the purposes of forming a ‘coloured’ or a ‘suited’ word and/or for the purposes of forming a ‘sequenced’ word. If used as the last letter in a word then the next player may nominate it as any letter/number and suit for her/his own word formation for scoring.

D. If players form a ‘coloured’ word (all cards of one colour; red or black) then they get a 5% bonus.

E. If players form a ‘suited’ word (all hearts, all diamonds, all clubs or all spades) they get a 10% bonus.

F. If players form a ‘sequenced’ word of mixed suits (this will be both numerically and alphabetically and may be ascending or descending and does not have to be consecutive numbers/letters) then they get a 15% bonus. 

G. If players form a ‘coloured’ and ‘sequenced’ word then they get a 20% bonus.

H. If players form a ‘suited’ and ‘sequenced’ word then they get a bonus of 25%. 

I. If all cards held are used to form one word then a bonus of 50% of the word value after bonuses and penalties is scored.

J. If a player forms a word that is on the 'link' card then a bonus of twice the value of the last card in the word is also scored.

K. Bonuses and penalties can apply when words are challenged (see rule 17 and next Score Rule).

L.  If a player uses the 'link' card in a position other than the first then s/he incurs a penalty of 33.3% of the value of that word.

M. If a player uses all remaining cards held by (or in front of) her/him in a word of at least 8 cards (or an otherwise agreed other number of letters) then the score for that word is increased by 50% (after other bonuses and/or penalties are applied).

N. All calculations are rounded up to the next whole number after each calculation of each bonus (or penalty if applicable) and bonuses and penalties are calculated in the order in which they are documented in these rules..

O. Also see variations which may be adopted for any specific game if the majority of players agree. For example players may play as pairs (partners) or as teams, eg. two teams of three or four teams of two. In these situations only the cards in the custody of the player whose turn it is may be used. The display option is used in these circumstances.

Note: “House rules” may be agreed by using workable combinations of any of the playing rules and scoring rules and variants in any game and/or by adding other agreed rules that are most suited to a particular group of players (eg. to accommodate players with a disABILITY) in any of the some sixty games.  


                                                          PLAYING WORDCHAIN...Getting Started.

 The deck is sorted into (mostly) vowels and consonants (or part of the deck if that variant is adopted) and both are shuffled and then placed face down in the centre. Both decks are then ‘cut’ (select a small number of cards) by as many players who wish to do so & restacked in random order.  All players in turn then cut into a portion of the consonants deck and display the bottom card of the part that they each cut...and replace the rest of the deck before the next player cuts for a card. 

The player with the card closest to A is to be the scorer and the dealer for that round. Suit 'seniorities' may be applied in the cut if agreed (ie. Multicard [top], then hearts, diamonds, clubs and then spades). If players cut an equally top card then only those players cut again. 

All cards are then replaced into the separate consonant and vowel decks and the dealer takes custody of the decks for that round. 

Both decks may be shuffled again if requested. All players are dealt (in the standard game) 12 cards (six consonants and six vowels if the decks are separated) – one at a time for each player – to start. 

The remaining cards in the decks are put aside near the dealer in the two decks. The top consonant card is placed in the centre of the playing area and turned face up. This is the starting ‘link’ card to be used by the player immediately to the left of the dealer. 

The cards for any player may be laid on the playing area in front of that player in any order (eg. alphabetical and/or suits and/or vowels and/or randomly).

However cards may be held partly or all in any custodian player’s hands if preferred by that player, eg. some cards may be held in hand, vis. vowels and/or Multicards and/or high points cards, etc. It is each player’s choice. There is a tactical advantage in concealing at least some cards, eg. vowels or consonants and/or Multicards or a random mix. Displaying cards can be very useful if playing as pairs or in teams...eg. six players playing as three pairs (partners) or as two teams of three.

The player to the dealer’s left is first to try to form a word. In a standard game this may be of any length. 

When an acceptable word is formed and scored all but the last or 'link' card are gathered up and stacked into discard decks beside the appropriate vowel or consonant deck or inserted randomly and individually into each of the separate decks according to whether the cards are consonants or vowels, etc. (or into the one deck if that is the agreed process). The next player then forms her/his best word. All players do this in each round. The deal moves to the left in each round. 

NOTE that the link letter has been used as the first letter but may be used anywhere in the next word for a penalty unless otherwise agreed. 

If the option to play with dice is chosen then the players throw the two dice and then may try to form a word with up to the number of letters equal to the throw of the dice (see also the rule on a double throw). 

Following players simply form the best word that they can (highest scoring … or longest for juniors or new players) as they each have their turns ... either using the dice or not as agreed. 

If a player throws a double with the dice then two words up to the throw on one dice may be formed or one word up to the total throw may be formed. If dice are not used then the word may be of any length (unless otherwise agreed). 

At any time in a game a player may opt once only to be dealt five additional cards instead of having a turn to form a word.

The game continues in this way until the agreed end point. As can be seen in the examples using sequences, suits and letters with higher values gets higher scores. This can be the case even for shorter words. However other considerations come into play such as retaining a good mix of vowels and consonants and the need to discard as many cards as possible (depending on the 'house rules' adopted). 

Ending a word with a low value letter might reduce the score of the next player. In the example shown 'KNOP' gave the next player 16 points while 'PYREXIA' gave the next player 1 point. 

At the end point the player with the highest score wins.

Ending the Game. The standard way to end the game is when a score of an agreed amount is reached, eg. 1,000. Alternatively when both decks are used and one player has used all of her/his cards or when no player can form another word (short games). By agreement the game may continue by shuffling the decks in the custody of the dealer and play continues normally. A game may also be time limited, etc.

There are more details to be found in the Rules Book contained in the WORDSPORT© GAMES Pack. Enjoy!