A Love Letter to Letterpress

I’ve got a problem, it started with a simple tweet. Amidst another exchange, about something which was evidently less important, Teflon asked myself and Davs (djhsecondnature) if we’d join him in a game of something called Letterpress on iOS. That was around 24 hours ago.

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Later yesterday evening, I remembered that request and went searching for the game on the AppStore. It was free and downloaded in a few seconds. I told my wife to grab it too. We’d previously enjoyed Words With Friends, Draw Something and SongPop so I was hoping we’d find another little game that would keep us mildly entertained for a week or two.

I loaded up the app, read the very brief instructions on how to play and then requested or accepted games with Teflon and Davs. My wife’s install finished and she wasn’t familiar with Game Center so she told me to add her. Now, the free version of the game only lets you run a couple of games concurrently so at this point – still before having actually played anything of it – I had to submit to the in-app purchase and commit my 69p. It’s only 69p, after all.

Letterpress is one of those new wave of beautifully designed iOS apps that’s all white space and block coloured tiles, although there are lots of different themes you can apply, if you wish. It looks fantastically minimalist and it’s all perfectly functional without adding lots of superfluous fluff, like many iOS games tend to. It’s by the guy who made Tweetie so brilliant before it was bought by Twitter and they set about ruining it.

The aim is simple enough, you’re presented with a seemingly random grid of letters from which you and your opponent must select to make words. You can’t repeat words or use a prefix of a previous work – so, as the rules explain, if one player has played “quilts” the second player cannot play “quilt” but “quilted” would be fine. Once a player has used a letter, it turns to their colour and they receive a point for it. The second player can claim that tile back for their own colour by using it in their word and they get the point for that tile, stealing it from their opponent.

If you manage to surround a letter with others of your colour, it becomes a brighter shade of your colour and is locked – your opponent must clear an adjoining tile before it is possible to steal it back again. This limits the number of points they can earn in the next turn. The game finishes when the last letter on the board is used.

It’s exceptionally simple but incredibly compelling. Like Risk played with literacy instead of imagined ranks of soldiers.

And that’s my problem: I can’t seem to stop playing it. With Words with Friends, Draw Something and SongPop I was always slightly begrudging of having to take my turn. Resentful that other people wanted to play with me. People would wait for me to get around to it and I often never did.

With Letterpress, I’m impatient for others to stop driving or eating or looking after their babies or working at their stupid jobs and just take their turn. It’s really a fantastic way to spend 69p and all of your free time.

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7 Comments

  1. Glad to see so many people enjoyed it from my little request of someone to play with. It really is very addictive!

    My current game within a game is to win with the showboat-iest word I possibly can.
    Most recently I got the victory screen to say “You played SAX to beat Seedy 17-8.” :D

  2. You can actually play lots of games without the IAP – if people invite you you’re free to join their game. I think.

    Still, best 69p spent for a long time.

  3. I love games like these (although am not very good at them). Will try it out! My ID is the same as on here if people fancy a game.

    I spend most my time on Simpsons Tapped Out, I seem to have become a bit obsessed with my virtual Springfield.

  4. My Game Centre ID is “Chris Pemberton” – feel free to add me for a game!

  5. Add me too, nickname is XisTG :)

  6. Hmm, reminiscent of Boggle

  7. Superb joke in there. Well played!

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