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My family enjoys playing Boggle. Usually it's all adults that play, but come the holidays it's not uncommon to have elementary and junior high aged cousins, nieces, and nephews interested in playing but lack the vocabulary (and practice time!) the adults enjoy.

Any suggestions on how to handicap the adults to make the game more balanced when younger players join?

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4 Answers

up vote 13 down vote accepted

Group the players according to skill level. Each of your words are eliminated if anybody in your group or below has a duplicate word. Players in groups higher than yours cannot eliminate your words, but you can eliminate theirs. I think there should be at least two players in the lowest group, but maybe you want to be really kind to the most junior player.

I haven't tested this, it might be too unbalanced. Try experimenting with the group sizes. I suspect fewer groups would be better.

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I like this idea. And, I agree that limiting the number of groups in the game is probably better - makes keeping track of the game easier. –  kchau Oct 22 '10 at 0:46
    
+1: This is an interesting idea! –  ire_and_curses Oct 22 '10 at 1:43
    
Awesome idea! Thanks! –  Scott Mitchell Oct 22 '10 at 2:08
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You could use different scoring for the kids and the adults. The normal scoring is

Word length 3 4 5 6 7 8+
Points      1 1 2 3 5 11

For the less skilled players, you could try something more like

Word length 3 4 5 6 7  8+
Points      2 3 4 6 10 15

which increases the reward for finding any words not found by the veteran players, and gives huge bonuses for large words (which are even more unlikely for them). You can adjust the values up or down depending on the relative skill levels of the junior players.

Another idea, related to Don Kirkby's interesting answer, is to automatically score words over a certain size for the juniors (instead of discounting them if others have them) - for example, any word over 5 letters. This encourages the children to put the effort in for the larger words, which for them is likely a much more challenging task than for the grown-ups.

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I like your idea, thanks. I was torn between marking your response and Don Kirby's as "the answer." I wish I could mark multiple responses as "the answer." –  Scott Mitchell Oct 22 '10 at 2:09
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My wife kicks serious butt at Boggle, so much so that I don't like playing with her anymore. I asked her this question, and without hesitating, she said "Either give the kids double the time, or the adults half the time".

I may have to try this with her at some point (with me receiving the handicap) :D

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This works, but its sometimes less fun. –  Gordon Gustafson Nov 14 '10 at 20:31
    
As a dyslexic my mother thought Boggle would help me become a better speller. She was wrong. She only succeeded in cementing my hatred for all things word game related. –  NA Slacker Oct 14 '13 at 13:37
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You could require the more experienced players to find words with a minimum number of letters. Like, they need at least 5 letters in the word to count? Or, the younger players could be given additional time.

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I really like the idea of raising the minimum length of words for stronger players. Leave the 3-letter words to the kids and force the better players to find longer words. –  joshdick Nov 23 '10 at 15:29
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