Bananagrams is a fun tile based spelling game in which each player organizes a group of letters into words that intersect with one another like a crossword puzzle. When you’ve used up all your letters, you draw, or “Peel”, new letters from the middle and you add those letters to your already finished words. The game finishes when there are not enough tiles in the middle, and one person has used up all of their tiles.
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To begin, spread the tiles out on a table, and turn them all face down, this is the draw pile, known as the “Bunch.” Depending on how many people are playing, select the right amount of tiles:
2-4 players: 21 tiles
5-6 players: 15 tiles
7+ players: 11 tiles
1 player: 21, (see Solitaire Bananagrams below)
Once everyone has their tiles, any player can say “Split,” and then the game begins. Every player should turn their tiles face up, and can then proceed to make connections with their letters to form interconnecting words. Those words can be horizontal or vertical, read from left to right and from top to bottom. Players may rearrange their combinations as many times as they like throughout the game.
When a player has used up all of their tiles, they draw a new tile from the Bunch, and announce “Peel.” This is a signal to all other players to also take a tile from the Bunch, even if they haven’t used up their tiles yet.
Stuck with a difficult letter? No problem, anyone can return a troublesome letter to the Bunch, face down, in exchange for three new letters. That player must announce this to their opponents by saying, “Dump.” This doesn’t effect other players’ gameplay.
Winning the Game
The game goes into the endgame when there are fewer tiles in the Bunch than there are players, and the winner is the first person to have used up all of their tiles. That player can shout “Bananas!” and the other players can check the spelling of their words, varifying that there are no proper nouns. If everything is spelled corectly, the game is over and that player is the winner. If there are misspelled words, that player is out for the round, and their tiles are put face down back into the Bunch, and play continues without that player.
In the off chance that no player is able to use all of their letters, and the Bunch is sufficiently empty, then the winner is the player with the least amount of left over tiles.
Part of what makes Bananagrams so fun, is that it can be played in as little as five to fifteen minutes, so you can play multiple rounds, competing to get the best of three, or best of five etc.
A little calmer version of the game, which is great if you’re playing with kids, involves dividing the Bunch evenly among the players and proceed to play the game like normal except without any peeling or dumping. The winner is the first person to have used up all their tiles. In case of stalemate, the player with the fewest tiles wins.
This version is great if you’re playing in, you guessed it, a cafe, or restaurant. You pull out only 21 tiles per player and play continues normally except without any peeling or dumping. The first player to use up all of their tiles, shouts “Bananas!” and wins the game.
Turn all the letters face down in the center of a table, and select 21 of them. Play normally, peeling as needed, and try to use all of the letters in the bag. If you like, time how long it takes you to use up all the letters, then try and beat that time in future games.
Captain Morgan’s Revenge
Play begins normally, the first person to use up all of their tiles, wins the round and gets ten points. The other players must finish using up their tiles. When all players are done, they can look at each other’s combinations and decide on one tile to take out of those combinations. The players then must reorganize their letters, and the first person to do that, gains one point. Everyone finishes their combinations again and the process repeats itself. You can continue on like this as long as you want, or you can play until one of the players reaches a predesignated score.
Time to play: 15 mins.
Alternative titles of the game: Big Letter Bananagrams, Jumbo Bananagrams
Suggested player age: 7+
Community suggested player age: 8+
Community rating (from Board Game Geek): 6.4/10
Popularity (from Board Game Geek): 6.35/10
Published year: 2006
Creator: Rena Nathanson and Abraham Nathanson.
Official game site & rules: https://bananagrams.com/games/bananagrams
Awards: Game of the Year, TOTY Awards (2009); Gold Award, Good Toy Guide (UK 2006); Best Toy Bronze Award, Right Start Magazine (UK 2006); Top Toy of the Year Award, Creative Child Magazine (2007); NAPPA Honors Award, Parenthood.com