We’re a tiny software company.
Every Friday at 5 PM, we close our laptops, crack open a delicious beverage, and play a game. Sometimes it’s an old favorite like Bang!, Exploding Kittens or Catan. Other times it’s the latest Kickstarter we’ve backed.
But for the past year, our go-to game has been one we made ourselves. It’s called AlphaBirds.
AlphaBirds is a word-building game like Scrabble or Boggle, but faster and more fun. And it’s super easy to learn. Here are the basic mechanics:
You take two cards. Keep one, give one. Make words if you can.
When friends come over, we just start playing. Within 30 seconds, they get it. And the game is short — usually about 10 minutes.
Yet the game is surprisingly deep. There’s real strategy to choosing where to play your letters, and it tends to self-balance. Usually everyone is close to winning at the end.
It feels selfish to keep it to ourselves, so we’ve designed official instructions and printed a batch to send out. We think it will become one of your go-to games as well.
Thanks, and let us know what you think! You can find us on Twitter @qapps and @johnaugust.
In the box
- 60 Letter Cards
- 2 QXZ Cards
- 2 Wild Cards
- 2 Swap Cards
- 2 Steal Cards
- 2 Tribute Cards
- 5 Scorecards
- 5 Tokens
How to Play
SETTING IT UP
Give each player a score card and token.
Shuffle the deck.
Put them face down as a draw pile.
Pick a player to go first.
ON YOUR TURN
- Take two cards from the draw pile and look at them.
- Play one card face up in front of you (your board), and one card face up in front of any other player (their board). (Exception: If one or both of your cards is a SPECIAL BIRD CARD, see below.)
- You can make words on your board (the cards in front of you) and/or other players’ boards. (See MAKING WORDS.)
- If you make a word, place those cards face up in the discard pile.
You’ll always end your turn with no cards in your hand.
Play then continues with the player on your left.
You score points by making words. Longer words are worth more. For words made on your own board, you score the following points:
Words must be 3 letters or longer.
If you make a word on another player’s board, you split the points.
(Example: on a 4-letter word, you’d each receive 2 points.)
Words made with the QXZ card count as if they were one letter longer. ZOO would count as a four-letter word.
The Wild card can count as any letter when making a word. (If played as a Q, X or Z, it only counts as one letter.)
You can only make words that include the letters you added to a board this turn. You do not have to use all the letters on a board to make a word.
(Example: if a player had O D G on his board, you couldn’t make DOG. You could however add an S to make DOGS.)
First player to 20 points wins!
SPECIAL BIRD CARDS
Steal —Take any one card from another player’s board and add it to yours. You can use this card to make a word.
Swap —Exchange any two cards in play. You can make words using either/both of the exchanged cards.
Tribute —Each player must give you one card of their choice. You can use any of these cards to make a word.
If you draw one letter card and one special card, you must play the letter card on your board. You can play the cards in any order.
Use the included score cards and tokens to track your score.
When you have more than 10 points, flip the score card over to the “Danger” side. Opponents can now play 3-letter words (worth zero points) on your board to clear it.
What’s a valid word?
If it counts in Scrabble®, it counts in AlphaBirds. That means no proper names or weird jargon. You can settle disagreements by checking the Scrabble website, or using an app like Word Finder.
Empty draw pile?
Shuffle the discard pile to make a new draw pile.