Scrabble + RTS = Bananagrams

Geek Culture

Sunday night is board game night in our house. We all sit round the table and take it in turns to choose which games we want to play. That’s the theory anyway, but the last two weeks we seem to have got stuck on one game in particular: Bananagrams ($14.99 from Amazon).

It’s one of those games that is much easier to play than it is to describe. Essentially it plays a little like real time (as opposed to turn-based) Scrabble without the Scrabble board. Each player starts with a set of tiles and once someone has shouted “Split” they start to lay them out in intersecting word patterns as you do in a game of Scrabble, but without having to take turns.

If a player uses up all their letters they shout “Peel” and everyone has to take another letter. If a player gets stuck and can’t use their letters up they can “Dump” one letter and take three more from the middle. The game continues until one player has no letters left and there are no more letters in the middle. They then shout “Bananagram” and are declared the winner, providing all their words are valid.

As I said, it sounds quite complicated but is actually very simple to play. Although our kids never had the patience for Scrabble (or even Boggle for that matter), Bananagrams has enough action to keep them interested.

Once the kids are in bed we have also taken to playing it with the grownups in the house as well. It’s intriguing to see the different tactics that have evolved over how to best use up your letters, words to avoid and dumping strategies.

It can get a little frantic at times, and on occasion we do switch back to traditional Scrabble for some more sedate fun, but generally it’s been a hit.

We’ve also got quite a bit of use of it on train journeys. Because the game fits in its own (banan- shaped) bag it is easily stowed in a back pack for long journeys. Also, because there is no board it can be played anywhere. We got some strange looks at a favorite restaurant of ours when we played it between the main course and dessert.

Bananagrams is available for $14.95 from or for £9.95 from

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