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?

6 Answers 6


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.

  • 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, 2010 at 0:46

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.

  • 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." Oct 22, 2010 at 2:09

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.

  • 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, 2010 at 15:29

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

  • This works, but its sometimes less fun. Nov 14, 2010 at 20:31
  • 1
    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, 2013 at 13:37

We've successfully used adding more time for less experienced players, allowing one and two letter words in addition to normal words for the younger players, and eliminating words on the experienced player's lists while not eliminating them from the younger player's lists.

It's way more fun when everyone has an actual chance.


Whenever I play Boggle with my SO and brother (both way better than me) I always score the number of total words I get against myself in previous rounds to try and beat that number as well. "Best game yet today!"

I'm not sure if that'd work for kids, but it's another number more within their control.

It does require some patience and acknowledgement that some boards are harder than others. Makes me try harder though.

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