Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How Boggle Works

Letter of the Law: Boggle Rules

It may sound like a cliché, but the fact is that no two games of Boggle are exactly alike, which is a big part of its appeal. Although the goal -- find as many words as possible in 3 minutes -- sounds simple, there are some elements to the game that make it tricky even for those who are avid readers and have extensive vocabularies.

Here's how it works: As few as one and as many players as can fit around the game place a cover over a 4x4 grid filled with Boggle cubes -- all of which have a different letter on each face -- and shake them up. Once the cubes are mixed up and the cover is removed, the grid just looks like a jumble of letters. When the game begins, someone starts the 3-minute timer, and everyone starts looking for words that are three letters or more in length. Every time you find a word, you immediately write it down on a piece of paper, so it's necessary to have a pen or pencil handy. There are some limitations, though.

First off, you can only form words using letters that adjoin one another, either horizontally, vertically or diagonally, and each letter cannot be used more than once. [source: Trani].

Secondly, it's not a matter of finding just any words. You get more points for pinpointing words that have a greater number of letters. Words with three or four letters receive one point, words with five letters earn two points, those with six letters garner three points, seven-letter words bring in five points, and words with eight letters or more score eleven points.

Originality is also important, because duplicating words that others find means nobody gets any points. You'll assess word point values and duplicates at the end of each 3-minute period, when you and your fellow players read the words you discovered out loud in whatever order the groups decides. If a player challenges the validity of a word used by another player, you'll use a dictionary to settle whether or not it counts.

The 3-minute rounds continue until someone reaches 50 or 100 points, or whatever pre-determined point target participants decide on before the game starts. As far as family games go, Boggle is one that appeals to a wide range of generations -- Hasbro says that it's appropriate for ages 8 and up.

For those young and old who like their classic games on the go, Boggle has entered the 21st century.