Word games and word play are fun. Whether you want to make a terrible pun or spell something clever, they are an attractive proposition. LeCardo straddles both categories. In, LeCardo, you will be placing words into a grid and trying to convince your friends why things like ‘Power Drive’ and ‘Head Time’ are legitimate phrases.
Each player gets a hand of word cards and on their turn, they can place one into the ever expanding grid of LeCardo. For example, let’s say that that ‘book’ is one of the cards on the tablet. You might want to place the card ‘mark’ next to it and create ‘bookmark’. This would grab you some points for making a successful word. You want to make either compounds or phrases.
Things become slightly more complicated when you must make ‘mark’ match words like ‘play’ and ‘line’. Can it make a phrase or word with those cards? Can you argue convincingly that ‘Line Mark’ is a commonly used phrase?
While the game suggests that you should use commonly used phrases, it also states that all players need to agree to each card placement. To me, this means that the game just went from being a word game to a negotiation word game. Can you get people on side with phrases like ‘Off Pay’? A phrase that you have tried to convincingly state is the pay that you receive when you are off work for some reason, and that it is the exact phrase that your company uses for all payments made to people off work, and how dare they question this clearly common phrase.
You could very well play LeCardo using normal phrases, and I have done a few times. What you end up with is a game where the obvious phrase will jump off the cards and dance around in front of you. It is obvious that you should put ‘wind’ next to ‘break’. Things do get a little more challenging if you also must match up with three or four other cards, but never to the extent where you feel like you are being massively clever.
Instead, you can play this alternate version that is sort of alluded to in the game. Trying to convince your friends about three separate and completely made up phrases can be funny. At this stage, you don’t even need to play for points. It is more of an experience, and more about having fun, than a competitive game.
That is where LeCardo matches both ‘fall’ and ‘flat’ and falls flat. Even if you house rule it so that you are trying to squeeze every bit of enjoyment out of this game, it is not something you are going to want play often – perhaps only the once. It never lets you feel quite as clever as you can when playing an impressive word in Scrabble. But maybe that’s fine. It comes as a tiny box of cards that you can take out and play almost anywhere. All you need to see is the name of the card so you can squish the grid together to take up very little space.
On the box of LeCardo, it says the word exciting. This is something I never found it to be at all. LeCardo is occasionally fun, sometimes thought provoking and often left in the box. You can play it as a grand strategy of words, but it shines best when played without points. If you want another word game in your collection, it will be fun for a few plays. LeCardo is ‘nice’ and an interesting ‘idea’, which makes it a nice idea.