Bonus Letter

BONUS LETTER is a quick-to-learn, quick-to-make word game that uses one custom-labeled six-sided dice. Those with the most extensive vocabulary will do better.

The object of the game is to score the most points before the end of it. Players earn points by spelling out words that contain the BONUS LETTER one or more times. The game can last for a set number of turns, or it can last until the alphabet is exhausted. Anywhere from one to more players can play, from ages 8 and up (I suppose).

bonus letter die

SETUP
To play BONUS LETTER, you will need:

  • one six-sided die with one letter on each face: R, S, T, L, N, E
  • something to write on (like a note pad)
  • something to write with (like a pencil or pen)
  • it may be useful to have a dictionary nearby or on hand to settle disputes or challenges

On your note pad, write all 26 letters of the alphabet. In a separate area, write each player’s name and leave a little space near each (this will be where score is recorded).

HOW TO PLAY
Whomever has their birthday coming up next plays first.

On their turn, players roll the die. Whichever letter comes up is their BONUS LETTER for that turn.

Next, that player picks an available letter from the alphabet. The player chooses a word that starts with the letter from the alphabet that they picked, and scratches out that letter (it then becomes unavailable). The player then determines their score, based on the number of times the BONUS LETTER appears in the word they chose:

  • 1 time = 3 points
  • 2 times = 5 points
  • 3 times = 8 points
  • 4 or more times = 13 points

It’s then the next player’s turn.

Play continues clockwise, with players rolling, selecting available (non-scratched) letters from the alphabet, and scoring points.

The game is over when there aren’t enough letters remaining in the alphabet for players to all have another turn (like if there are five players and there’s only one letter left), after a set number of turns, or when players come to agreement that there is no word possible from the remaining alphabet that contains the current BONUS LETTER (in which case the game ends prematurely). Whichever player has the highest score at the end of the game wins.

EXAMPLE GAMEPLAY
Annie, Beth, and Maria are playing. Annie is the first player.

Annie rolls “S.” Looking to the alphabet, she chooses the letter A and the word ASSOCIATES. For that word, she earns 8 points and scratches out the letter A in the alphabet.

Beth goes next. She rolls “E.” Looking to the alphabet, she chooses the letter H and the word HEATSEEKER. Since this word has the letter E in it four times, she earns 13 points and then scratches out the letter H.

Maria is third. She rolls”T.” Not able to choose A or H, Maria selects the letter F and the word FURTHEST. Maria earns 5 points and scratches out the letter F on the alphabet.

The players’ scores are currently Annie 8, Beth 13, and Maria 5. It’s Annie’s turn now.

Annie rolls “L.” She can’t spell FALAFEL since F is already chosen, so she selects the letter P for PARALLEL. Annie nets 8 additional points and scratches out the letter P on the alphabet.

Beth rolls “R” on the BONUS LETTER die. With the letter W she spells WARRIOR. That nets her 8 points, and she scratches out W.

Maria rolls “R” as well, and selects the letter I for IRRADIATOR. Annie challenges this, saying she’s never heard of the word. The players spend a moment looking for IRRADIATOR in the nearby dictionary, and much to her surprise, it’s in there: a noun related to IRRADIATE. Maria earns 8 points on her turn.

The players scores at this point are Annie 16, Beth 21, and Maria 13.

…Play continues until the players run out of letters to finish a round. In this case, each player will have up to 8 chances to spell words, and there will be two unused letters in their alphabet list.

VARIATIONS

  • The BONUS LETTER is the player’s starting letter, and they earn points for the number of syllables in the word they choose.
  • A challenge to another player’s word subtracts one point from the challenger, but will add 5 points to their score for each correct challenge.
  • A player may use a scratched-out letter to start a word for a -1 point penalty on their score.
  • The BONUS LETTER is actually the FORBIDDEN LETTER, and players earn points for each of the other possible letters in the word they choose. For example, someone rolls “R.” The choose the word SILENT, which contains S, L, E, N, and T. They earn 13 points. If a player rolls “E” and chooses the word RATS, they earn 8 points.
  • For a “Boggle”-styled challenge, roll a BONUS LETTER and choose an alphabet letter. Each player must choose their own word, write it down, and reveal it simultaneously. Players all earn points for the word they select as per regular. If any players have chosen the same word, they earn 0 points that turn. Note that suffixes such as “-s” and “-ing” will make the words different from one another, preventing players from losing points.

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