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Letters to love: MiniMouth
on October 15, 2012
MiniMouth was an instant hit with our family. We played for hours, starting with the hardest version (5 letters) and quickly retreating to a more manageable 3 or 4 letters.
It's a delight that the 26 tiles are exactly one alphabet. Spread them on the table, face down, and then take turns turning over 3 or 4 or 5. The plastic tiles are so well formed that a single flick on an edge flips them over, like tiddlywinks. We had much fun just flipping them for a while, then we got serious about finding words that contained all the exposed letters. The less proficient spellers were still able to keep up by just pronouncing the word. Great for dusting off your vocabulary, tickling your brain to remember words you don't use often. What I especially like is that the letters you're trying to fit into a word can be in any order, not necessarily first or last.
The only tricky part comes when you're down to only 6 or fewer letters, and they are the nearly impossible ones with which to make anything sensible. We solved this problem by using only 3 letters, and if that didn't work, just 2 letters. Worked like a charm.
It was inevitable that someone would propose trying to make the longest word using as many tiles as possible, leaving all letters face up. We found some amazing ones. Did you know that the word "uncopyrightables" has no duplicate letter? After we found a few really big words, someone suggested finding a group of words that exactly used up the whole alphabet. Having so few vowels to support so many consonants soon led us to form crossword-puzzle grids, with the vowels serving double duty for horizontal and vertical words. We managed to interweave 7 words within a 9x9 space, using all 26 letters.
Kudos to ThinkFun and the inventor, Derrick Niederman, for coming up with such a clever, quick, portable, friendly, stimulating and versatile game. It's a worthy successor to Niederman's brilliant "Pathwords", also published by ThinkFun.