How to Play LINGO!

The other day I came up with a word game literally in a dream, though it’s simple enough that it’s probably been done before. I called it “LINGO!”, a word that’s about words and that also sounds like “bingo”.

The rules:

Pick a random 7-10 letter word from a wordlist. (In the physical version of the game, there would be Taboo-like cards with several curated options on them, and you’d pick from that.) The first player then has to come up with a three-letter word using the letters of the starting word. The next player has to come up with a four-letter word, and so on.

If a player cannot come up with a word, they get a point. (Points are bad.) If they have five points, they’re out.

If the last player in a round successfully comes up with a word that uses all but one letter from the original word, they lose a point as a reward for completing the round (unless they are already at zero).

The player that loses a round chooses the next word (off a card, or regenerating from the wordlist until there’s one they like), and starts with the first three-letter word. If they were just eliminated, the player after them gets to choose.

Letters may not be used more than once, but the original word may have more than one copy of a letter, each of which can be used once.

Words cannot be simple conjugations of previous words in the same round. For example, if “eat” is played, “eaten” is not valid, but “edible” would be. If “back” is played, “backs” is not valid, but “backpack” would be.

This is an out-loud word game a lot like Ghost or Geography, but with anagram-based play like Boggle or Spelling Bee. It does need a wordlist, though, which is a bit of a drawback for, say, playing on a road trip.

Is it a good game? Probably not: 3-, 4-, and 5-letter words are easy, but 6- and 7-letter words are suddenly much harder. I tried to play a sample round myself with the word GENERATE:

  • ran
  • teen
  • range
  • regent
  • reagent

Despite the similarity of most of these, the last two were much harder than the first, which means where you are in the round order affects things a lot. It might be something you could balance by changing the scoring, but I’m more worried about it not being fun to play. But at least it was fun to have the game spring pretty much fully-formed into my mind.