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WIM - the every which way word game

WIM, the every which way word game, is a tile word game invented by Puzzlemaster Roy Leban.

Players compete to score the most points by forming interlocking words in all directions, using square letter tiles, most of which can be used in more than one direction or as more than one letter. Players receive bonuses for using a previously played tile as a letter it wasn't used as previously, for changing the orientation of a word, or for using all seven tiles on their rack in a single play.

Superficially similar to games such as Scrabble, UpWords, and other tile-based word games, WIM is distinguished by its unique game play, which opens up a number of creative avenues for players. The first major distinguishing feature of WIM is the letters on the tiles, which can be read as different letters in a variety of orientations. There are only 19 distinct tiles to make all 26 letters plus the blank. 8 tiles can make two different letters in different orientations (for example, an N tile is also a Z when rotated 90 degrees, or an M tile can be used as a W upside down). 3 additional tiles (O, S, X) are usable as the same letter in more than one orientation.

WIM is intended for players 10 and up who like word games and word puzzles and are looking for something a bit different or a bit more challenging. For 2-4 players, though the 2-player game works particularly well, as is also true for Scrabble, UpWords, etc.

The following images show a sample game from four different directions:


A set of WIM includes 96 letter tiles, two oversize rule tiles, two tile racks, a rule booklet.

WIM was produced in a special edition of laser-etched maple wood, and is not currently available. If you are interested in being notified if a future edition is produced, subscribe to our newsletter.


Q. Why isn't there a board?
A. The lack of a board makes the game more portable (everything fits in the bag) and allows games to progress naturally in whatever direction works out. Interestingly, before they play the game, many people think it should have a board. After they've played it, they agree it doesn't need a board.

Q. Have you thought about having a turntable to facilitate game play?
A. This is another thing people suggest before they play the game. In practice, a turntable hinders the game more than it helps it, as it severely limits the playing space. Plus, a single play can be made which forms words in multiple orientations at the same time, so it helps players to start seeing that way. In contrast, there is only one correct orientation in Scrabble, so a turntable can be a real help there.

Q. Aren't all these every-which-way letters confusing? It looks pretty complex.
A. It is true that it looks complex at first glance, but it feels much simpler when it is being played. With most people, it takes only two or three turns in a single game for them to get the hang of it.

Q. Why don't all the tiles work in multiple orientations? Couldn't you combine the B/E tile with the M/W tile?
A. It is possible to design letter tiles so that every tile is usable in more than one orientation or as more than one letter, or so that some tiles could be 3 or 4 letters. In practice, this makes the game unplayable as it's too wide open. The current balance was achieved through both experimentation and my own knowledge of letter forms and usage.

Q. Is WIM an ambigram game?
A. No, though it was partially inspired by ambigrams. Roy has been an ambigrammist for more than thirty years and has created hundreds of ambigrams. It is possible to create some ambigrams with WIM tiles and the WIM logo itself is an ambigram.

Q. How complex are the rules?
A. The rules do have a fair amount of detail, but most of them are well known to people who play word games (e.g., take turns, agree on a dictionary to verify words). This means that, essentially, the only rules that need to be remembered are how to score. Not only is that pretty easy to remember once you've played the game, but the scoring rules and point values are printed on oversize rule tiles included with the game.

Q. Do people with dyslexia have problems playing the game?
A. So far, no. We have not done extensive research but we have had adults with minor dyslexia play it without problem. Sometimes they took a bit longer to adjust to the game, but adjustment times also vary with non-dyslexic people. We would be interested in hearing additional reports either way.

Q. Are there any puzzles based on WIM?
A. As a matter of fact, yes. Each of the Almanaqs has puzzles using the WIM aphabet. And try the very first WIM Word Search here.

Q. Can I buy in quantity? Can I license WIM?
A. Contact Roy at: roy [at] almanaq [dot] com.

WIM and "the every which way word game" are trademarks of Roy Leban.

Creative Commons License
The WIM game photographs on this page (and only the photographs) are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. For permissions beyond the scope of this license, please contact us.
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