10 Best Board Games With Letters (2022 Guide)

Word games that involve letters are a very approachable genre of board games, that appeals to gamers and non-gamers alike. Games like Scrabble have been around for a long time and are quite popular because of their broad appeal.

But these days, there are a lot of board games with letters that are way better than Scrabble, they have more interesting game mechanics, exercise more lateral thinking, and you don’t necessarily win by having the entire dictionary memorized.

So whether you’re looking for a game to help increase your kid’s vocabulary, to play with your significant other who enjoys crosswords, or just want something different to add to your board gaming collection, read on to find out which letter games are best.

If you are into word games, we’ve also done a great list of the best word guessing games that you should also check out.

Best Board Games With Letters – Quick Comparison

RankName# PlayersTimeComplexityGood For
#1Hardback1-545 – 90 minsMediumBest Overall
#2Letter Jam2-645 minsMediumBest Cooperative
#3Letter Tycoon2-530 minsMediumBest Economic

1. Best Overall: Hardback (or Paperback)

Hardback is a game for 1 – 5 players, that lasts 45 – 90 minutes and is of medium complexity.

This is a deck-building game where you start with a deck of letters.  You build words with your cards, which gives you currency to buy better letters for your deck.  This has an engine-building element, and you are trying to balance money so you can buy more cards, points so you can win the game, and which letters to buy so you can create more words.

Hardback is a reimplementation of the game Paperback, which is very similar.  Hardback adds a mechanic where the letter cards can come from different book genres, and you get to use special abilities (such as getting bonus money or being able to use extra cards) if you play cards from the same book genre.  I prefer hardback as I love engine-building games, but if you are looking for something more focused on building word combinations, then Paperback would be a better choice.

Pros

  • Engaging game
  • Strategic – feels like a proper euro game
  • Winning is not vocabulary-based
  • It also comes with a great coop and solo mode

Cons

  • Low player interaction
  • Some luck elements 
  • Feels clunkier than some of the more well-known deck builders (eg. Dominion)

2. Best Cooperative: Letter Jam

Letter Jam is a game for 2 – 6 players that takes around 45 minutes and is of medium complexity (it’s pretty easy to teach, but takes quite a bit of thinking).

In this game, each player is given a word using letter cards, but they can’t see it. Rather, all the other players can see their word (similar to Hanabi if you’ve played that). The players then give each other clues by making words from the letters in the other player’s cards and using tokens to indicate which position in the word each player has a letter in.

I spoke about this one in our article on the best word guessing games. This is an interesting cooperative game and a game that takes a lot more thinking than a lot of word-based games.  This will satisfy those who like a good puzzle game.

Pros

  • Cooperative – need to work as a team
  • Lots of lateral thinking required
  • Great puzzle game
  • On the heavier side of word games (but still quite light in comparison to a lot of board games)
  • Winning is not vocabulary-based

Cons

  • It is very difficult if you are not good at the type of thinking involved in word games
  • Purely a word game, no theme or story

3. Best Economic: Letter Tycoon

Letter Tycoon is a game for 2 – 5 players that is of medium complexity and takes about half an hour to play.

This game is a bit like Monopoly crossed with Scrabble, but in a good way as it adds an interesting economic element to a word game.

In Letter Tycoon, players use the letters in their hands to make words and earn money. But you can patent letters in the game and make other players pay when they use your letters in their words. This adds an element of strategy, as when you are creating words you’ll be trying to make the best word for yourself but also not give your competitors money.

For those of you who like word games and economic stock games, this is a must pick up.

Pros

  • It’s not just vocabulary-based
  • Very interactive
  • Strategic in what letters to patent and what words to play
  • It feels like a eurogame.

Cons

  • Can be luck-based depending on the letter cards drawn
  • Thematically, it is very poor as it doesn’t really make sense to be buying words
  • The downtime when other players are thinking about their words

4. Best Quick Thinking: Wordsy

Wordsy is a very quick 20-minute game for 1 – 6 players, that is very easy.

In this game, there are 8 cards put on the table (in a 2 by 4 grid), and players need to come up with as many words as they can using those cards, but can use whatever other letters they want.  Each column of words is worth a different amount of points, which changes each round as it’s based on cards (I like that as it makes you think more than in something like Scrabble where you can learn words that use the high scoring letters).

There are seven rounds played, with a round ending 30 seconds after a player announces they have their best word.  At the end of the game the player who has the most points from their 5 best words wins.

Pros

  • Forgiving if you screw up a round
  • No restrictions on words you can create due to the letters that are out
  • Entertaining and engaging game
  • It works for gamers and non-gamers

Cons

  • Faster players will do better
  • Those with a better vocabulary will do better

5. Best for Large Groups: Word on the Street

Word on the Street is a game for 2-10 players that is easy to teach and takes about 20 minutes.

This is a competitive game, where you have either individuals or teams playing against each other.

In this game, there are eight letter tiles put on the street (or gameboard), and each team wants to claim all the letter tiles.  They do this by giving an answer to a category question (eg. name a fruit) that uses some of the letters in the middle.  When they use a letter, they move the letters towards them and eventually claim them if they move enough spaces towards them.

Pros

  • Builds teamwork
  • It works well for a large group
  • Fun and exciting
  • Lots of player interaction

Cons

  • Competitive
  • It doesn’t work as well with a small group

6. Best Competitive: Boggle

Boggle is a game for 2 – 8 players that takes about 10 minutes (though you’ll likely want to play again) and is easy to teach. This is a game you should be able to pick up in big box stores, it’s widely available and you won’t have to go looking in a specialist board game store for it.

In Boggle you shake up dice with letters on them and then each player needs to make as many words as possible from the letters on the dice.  You only score for words other players don’t have.

Get the big variant, Big Boggle, which comes with more letter dice and lets you create larger words.

Pros

  • Easy to learn
  • Time pressure makes the game exciting
  • Good game for non-gamers
  • Available in big box stores

Cons

  • Can get difficult letter combinations
  • Some people may find the game stressful
  • Faster players will do better
  • Those with a better vocabulary will do better

7. Best Kids Game: Bananagrams

Bananagrams is a game for 1 – 8 players, that takes around 15 minutes and is easy to teach.  This is a game you should be able to pick up in big box stores, it’s widely available and you won’t have to go looking in a specialist board game store for it.

Bananagrams is a bit similar to Scrabble, in that you get a bunch of tiles and you need to make your own crossword-like grid of words, which you can edit as you please.  However there is no board and no scoring of letters, instead, you win by getting rid of all your tiles first.

This makes it a bit easier and more approachable than Scrabble, there’s less thinking involved and it’s more of a fun, casual game.

Pros

  • Rules are easy to understand
  • Fast-paced, tense gameplay
  • Good game for non-gamers
  • Available in big box stores

Cons

  • Speed based (I find that stressful)
  • Game can get repetitive
  • Feels a bit like solitaire, no player interaction

8. Best Two Player: A Little Wordy

This is a two-player, very easy game that takes around 10 minutes to play.

A Little Wordy is made by the same makers as Exploding Kittens and Throw Throw Burrito, and while it’s nowhere near as popular you can feel the same fun DNA built into it.

In this game, each player is given a hand of letter cards, and they need to make a secret word out of them.  They then scramble the hand and pass all their cards to their opponent, who use these plus clue cards to guess the other player’s words.  Clue cards cost points, so you want to use as few as possible.

This is a fun filler game that you can quickly play when you have a few minutes.  It’s got good back and forth and is a nice little game to spend some time with another person.

Pros

  • Fun light filler game
  • Cool artwork
  • Very interactive game
  • Short, quick game

Cons

  • 2 players only
  • Clues don’t feel completely balanced
  • Not a deep game and not a lot of strategy

9. Best Fantasy: Spell Smashers

This is a game for 1 – 5 players that takes about an hour and is of a light to medium complexity rating.

This game is a bit of a different one as it combines dungeon crawling (one of my favorite genres) with a letter game.

Players get to go on a dungeon crawls with their character, but to fight monsters they have to make words.  The words let them determine in what order they go, but also gives them different speed and power to determine how much damage they deal to enemies.

This one is quite a fun twist on a word game.  I think there are better dungeon crawlers out there (check out our list if you want more), but if your looking for a fun way to extend your family’s vocabulary then this is a good pick.

Pros

  • Puts an educational twist on dungeon crawlers
  • Entertaining and fun to play
  • Very little downtime
  • Good solo mode
  • Great artwork and theme

Cons

  • Better dungeon crawlers out there
  • A word gams and dungeon crawl smash-up doesn’t necessarily make sense
  • A better vocabulary of big words is an advantage
  • Not a whole lot of player interaction

10. Best Filler: Unspeakable Words

Unspeakable Words is an easy game for 2 – 6 players that takes around 30 minutes.

This game is a bit like a light filler version of Scrabble but more fun.  Each round you get a hand of 7 cards, and you need to make a word from them to score the most points (each letter is worth a different amount of points).

However when you create a word, you have to roll a 20-sided dice for sanity, and if you roll above the score of the word, you are sane, else you need to lose a sanity token.  This adds some push your luck strategy to the game, as making shorter words is less risky but also scores you fewer points. You win by getting to 100 points first and keeping all your sanity.

If you are looking for a light-hearted party word game that has a bit of a sense of humor and you don’t need to take it too seriously, this is a great pick!

Pros

  • A light filler game
  • Fun silly game

Cons

  • The Cthulu theme is pretty light
  • Not a whole lot of strategy
  • Luck based on what cards you draw and what you roll
  • Good catch up mechanism

Honorable Mentions

There are a lot of twists on Scrabble that are very good, but we didn’t want this whole list to be games of Scrabble variants. Scrabble has the problem that people with a great vocabulary have a distinct advantage. I certainly don’t have a big vocabulary so I’m always losing, which may be why they didn’t make the top 10 ;). There are also a few other games that, while quite good, just didn’t have enough depth for me to make it into the top 10 list:

  • Scrabble – This one is a classic and no list of word games with letters would be complete without it. For those who haven’t played before, each player gets a bunch of tiles, and you need to put them on the board to score the most points (with letters being worth certain points and locations on the board being worth certain points).  The only problem with this game is there are some people out there who have the dictionary and strategies memorized.
  • Jabuka – This one is a bit like Bananagrams, except you can twist some letters around and steal your opponent’s words, so it feels much more cutthroat than other scrabble-like games.
  • Upwords – This is similar to Scrabble, except you can stack tiles on top of ones that are already on the board and get points for doing that. It feels pretty similar to Scrabble, but I probably prefer this one.
  • Dabble – This is a very fast-thinking game. Each player gets several tiles and needs to make five words of different lengths that score the most points. I don’t like this game as much because I’m a slow thinker and the timer element creates too much stress for me, but that’s not the case for everyone.
  • Quiddler – This is a game for 1 – 10 players.  In this game, you have to create words from the cards in your hand, and the number of cards and length of words increases every round.  Each letter is worth a certain number of points, with the winner being the person who scores the most points.
  • Letterpress – This is a card drafting game (similar to sushi-go) where you get a hand of cards and pick a card and then pass the hand to your neighbor.  There are three shared cards in the center of the table, and you need to use the cards you pick to make words.  This game would be a close #11, it is quite strategic and fun too.

Conclusion

There are a lot of options when it comes to word and letter games.  When I started writing this article I thought I was going to struggle as word games aren’t the most popular category when it comes to modern board games.  However, as I wrote this list it made me realize how many fantastic word games there are that are really great to play.

If you are looking for a more strategic game that fits into the modern board game category, then Hardback, Paperback, Letter Jam, or Letter Tycoon are all very interesting games in their own right.

If you are looking for a quick game to fill in some time with a few non-gamers, then Wordsy, Boggle, Bananagrams, and A Little Wordy are all great options.

For something that fits a large group with a lot of interactivity, then Word on the Street and Unspeakable Words are good light party games that will give your group some fun entertainment.

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