NOTE: New version has been released. This is a repost of original review with some new details.
The old cliché goes that sometimes the simplest ideas are the best and Gareth Hanlon of EyeSeeGames has come up with a really simple idea that works. His product, Dyce Game, is an educational game played with 8 dice. Each dice is an octahedron and has a letter on each face. At its simplest the game is played very much like a cross between Scrabble and Boggle.
The player rolls all eight dice and tries to make the best word from the letters thrown. You score one point per letter used. Players have ten rolls of the dice and the total score is calculated. So far, so simple. However, the real clever part of the game is the lateral thinking aspect of it. Some letters can be inverted to make different letters. For example m can be inverted to make w and b can become q. If you use an inverted letter like this, your letter is worth 3 points instead of 1. There are some other special letters that can be inverted but don’t change their letter, for example inverting s makes s but using it inverted gets you two points. Inverting simply means turning the dice around 180 degrees.
Taking an example throw:
b, n, a, e, s, l, m, t
I could make: belts for 5 points. However, by inverting the s and the l, I can increase my score to 7 points. slum could get me 8 points and so on.
Dyce Game comes in two formats – a physical version and a computer game version. I played the computer game version for this review, thinking that it would only take me a few seconds to get the idea but ended up spending over an hour on it as I got very addicted!
From an educational point of view, the game can easily be used to help with spelling and increasing vocabulary. The computer game has an inbuilt dictionary to stop any words like KWYJIBO (Google it!) so this can help a teacher who wishes to let children work independently.
A further cool thing about Dyce Game is that there’s a Gaeilge version with a Gaeilge dictionary built in. The game works the same way except you can add and subtract fadas from the vowels as well as inverting the letters.
Without a doubt, Dyce Game is one of the most addictive word games I have played in a long time. I’m a huge fan of Scrabble but often find that it is difficult for children to get into. I also find Boggle can be hard for primary school pupils too. This game allows children the ability to play at a wide variety of ability levels. Even a young child who is only grasping CVC words can succeed at the game.
Dyce Game is available to buy at their web site http://www.dycegame.com/ and is well worth buying for your school. Gareth plans on creating iPod and Android apps over the year and aims to have the product in as many schools as possible. I am happy to give Dyce Game a well deserved Top of the Class award!