FIELD OF THE INVENTION
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates generally to games involving the formation of words, and more particularly relates to a board game, a card game and a computer game for forming words based on anagrams originating from letters, numbers and/or other indicia on license plates.
The formation of anagrams can be educational and entertaining. In simple terms, forming an anagram involves rearranging a known set of letters into one or more recognizable words. For example, the letters “ivle” can be arranged to form “vile”, “evil” and “live”.
Many games are also known to provide randomized sets of known letters to allow players to exercise and develop their anagram formation skills. Currently known games include Scrabble™ and Boggle™. Scrabble involves the blind selection of seven tiles by each player. Each tile bears one letter. According to each player's turn, the tiles are “played” on a game board, which is substantially a matrix of blank locations for each tile. Each player must utilize one or more existing tiles on the board when playing their own turn and forming their own anagram. Points are awarded according to the quantum and type of letters played and locations occupied by words on the game board. It is arguable that, while Scrabble is a highly stimulating and sophisticated game, it is also somewhat in-depth and complex, requiring a certain level of effort in amassing the set of letters, and a fair degree of skill to form high-scoring words from those letters. A further problem with Scrabble is that it can be easy to lose the individual game tiles, thereby making the rest of the game useless within the proscribed set of rules that come with the Scrabble game.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Boggle involves a plurality of dice which have different letters on each side. The dice are held within a container having a clear removable plastic top and a base having a plurality of slots that can hold each of the dice. When covered with the plastic top, the container can be shaken to randomize the orientation of each of the dice, and then jiggled to urge each of the dice into a respective slot. The top is then removed and the players are given a period of time to form words. One problem with Boggle is that the letters can be oriented in directions that make it difficult for the players to perceive the letters in an ergonomically friendly manner, thus making it more difficult to play the game and focus on the task of forming words. Further, like the loss of a tile in Scrabble, the loss of a single die can make the Boggle game unusable, requiring replacement of the entire game.
It is therefore an object of the invention to provide a novel method and apparatus for forming words that obviates or mitigates at least one of the disadvantages of the prior art.
In a first embodiment of the present invention, there is provided a game for forming anagrams and awarding a number of points according to such formations, comprising a set of cards each having a plurality of letters and preferably bearing a likeness of a license plate. At least one of the cards has a plurality of letters that at least partially varies from the plurality of letters of at least one of the other cards, such that during a round of game play at least two cards are drawn from the set of cards and at least one player attempts to form at least one word from the letters presented on the at least two cards drawn and is awarded a number of points based on a successful formation of the at least one word.
In a preferred aspect of the first embodiment, the set of cards consists of a set of primary cards each having a plurality of letters, at least one of said secondary cards having a plurality of letters that at least partially varies from that found on at least one other of the primary cards. A set of secondary cards has a group of at least one letter, at least one of which has a group of at least one letter that at least partially varies from that found on at least one other of the secondary cards. At least one card is drawn from either or both of the set of primary cards and secondary cards during the round of game play and at least one player then forms anagrams from the letters on the at least one card drawn.
It is also preferred that all players simultaneously attempt to form at least one word from the letters presented on the at least two cards drawn and are awarded a number of points based on a successful formation of at least one word.
In another aspect of the embodiment, there is provided a board having at least one track with a start position and an end position about which a set of pieces are moved at least partially based on the number of points awarded.
Further, it is preferred that the at least one track is comprised of a series of holes in the board in which the pieces rest.
The number of points awarded for each of the anagrams can be directly proportional to a count of the plurality of letters used to form the anagram or the number of anagrams formed. Further, they may be augmented where a single anagram is formed with each of the plurality of letters.
In another aspect of the invention, there is provided a method for playing a game for forming anagrams and awarding a number of points according to such formations, comprising the steps: selecting from a set of cards at least two of the cards during a round of game play, the cards each having a plurality of letters and bearing a likeness of a license plate, at least one of the cards having the plurality of letters that at least partially varies from the plurality of letters of at least one other of the cards; forming a set of words during a round of game play from the plurality of letters on the at least two cards; and awarding a number of points based on a successful formation of the set of words.
It is preferred that the set of cards consists of a set of primary cards each having a plurality of letters, at least one of the primary cards having a plurality of letters that at least partially varies from the plurality of letters of at least one other of the primary cards, and a set of secondary cards having a group of at least one letter, at least one of the secondary cards having a group of at least one letter that at least partially varies from the plurality of letters of at least one other of the secondary cards. At least one primary card is drawn from each of the sets of primary and secondary cards during a round of game play.
The step of forming words from said plurality of letters can be performed simultaneously by all players.
Preferably, the embodiment includes the step of moving at least one of a set of pieces around a board having at least one track with a start position and an end position at least partially based on the number of points awarded. The at least one track may be comprised of a series of holes in the board in which the pieces rest.
In another embodiment of the invention, there is provided a computer-based game system for forming anagrams and awarding a number of points according to such formations, comprising: means for displaying at least one image bearing a likeness of a license plate and presenting a plurality of letters, at least one of the images having the plurality of letters; means for input to allow at least one of a group of players to enter a set of anagrams from the plurality of letters; means for processing to receive the set of anagrams entered by said at least one player and award a number of points based on a successful formation of the at least one anagram; and means for storage to record and maintain a total of the number of points awarded to the at least one player during at least two game rounds.
The plurality of letters contained in the image can be randomly generated by the means for processing or, alternatively, the image displayed can be randomly selected from a set of previously generated images, such as photographs of actual license plates, maintained in the means for storage.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The system can include means for communication enabling at least two players to form the anagrams simultaneously from the plurality of letters.
Preferred embodiments of the present invention will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the attached Figures, wherein:
FIG. 1 is a schematic representation of a game board in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 2 is a schematic representation of a license card for use with the game board of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is a schematic representation of a bonus card for use with the game board of FIG. 1 and in conjunction with the license card of FIG. 2;
FIG. 4 is a front view of a computing device for playing the board game depicted in FIGS. 1-3 in accordance with another embodiment of the invention; and
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
FIG. 5 is a flow chart of a program executing an embodiment of the game.
Referring now to FIG. 1, a game board in accordance an embodiment of the invention is indicated generally at 20. Board 20 is made from cardboard and includes two or more rectangular portions adjoined together such that board 20 can be folded in at least half in any usual desired manner. The entirety of board 20 is substantially square and includes a likeness of a car wheel 24 thereon. Wheel 24 is characterized by an outer circle representative of a tire 28 and an inner circle representative of a fanciful hub cap 32.
In a present embodiment, tire 28 includes a plurality of lines 36 extend from the outer periphery of tire 28 and towards hub cap 32. Each line 36 is further characterized by a plurality of holes 40. (In the present embodiment, each line 36 has six holes 40.) Thus, holes 40 form six concentric tracks that run around the circumference of hub cap 32. Each track thus provides a pathway for each player to record his or her score during play, the details of which will be discussed in greater detail below. Each line 36 represents a given number of points accumulated during play of the game. Players thus each use one or more pegs 68, similar to that used in a cribbage game, along his or her respective track.
Players commence the game by placing their peg 68 in their respective hole at the start line 44 and move their pegs 68, according to their accumulated scores, along each line until reaching end line 48. As will be more particularly discussed below, when the first player reaches end line 48, that player “wins” the game. It should now be thus apparent that board 20 can accommodate up to six players.
Hub cap 32 includes a ring of fanciful “T”s 52 that follow the periphery of hub cap 32. Each pair of “T”s 52 has a small line 56 in between them. The centre of hub cap 32 includes a pair of rectangles. The first rectangle 60 defines a resting place for a stack of plate cards while the second rectangle 64 defines a resting place for a stack of bonus cards. The details of the plate cards and bonus cards will be discussed in greater detail below.
Referring now to FIG. 2, an exemplary plate card for use in association with board 20 of FIG. 1 is indicated generally at 70. Plate card 70 bears a likeness to a license plate, and the inventor of the present invention contemplates in certain embodiments that plate card 70 will bear the actual likeness of a license plate from a recognized state, province or territory of the United States or Canada. Thus, plate card 70 includes a state identifier portion 74, a state slogan portion 78 and a fanciful symbol 82. Plate card 70 also includes a alphabetic portion 86 consisting of four individual letters, which in the present example are “ACHT”. Plate card 70 also includes a numeric portion 90 consisting of three numbers, which in the present example are “567”. When used in conjunction with board 20, a plurality of plate cards 70 are actually used, preferably about one-hundred, which are placed in a stack, face down, onto first rectangle 60 of board 20. Each of the plate cards 70 within the stack of one-hundred bear different combinations of alphabetic portions 86 and/or numeric portions 90. Further details about plate card 70 will be discussed below.
Referring now to FIG. 3, an exemplary bonus card for use in association with plate card 70 and board 20 is indicated generally at 100. Bonus card 100 also bears a likeness to a license plate, and the inventor of the present invention contemplates that typically bonus card 100 will bear in certain embodiments that plate card 70 will typically bear the same actual likeness of a license plate as the likeness shown on plate card 70. In the present embodiment, bonus card 100 includes a single bonus portion 104 consisting of a single letter, which in the present example is “R”. When used in conjunction with board 20, a plurality of bonus cards 100 are actually used, preferably about one-hundred, which are placed in a stack, face down, onto second rectangle 64 of board 20. All twenty-six letters of the alphabet are used in the bonus cards, with desired level of repetition, on different ones of the bonus cards 100 within the entire stack of one-hundred. Further details about bonus cards 100 will be discussed below.
The use of two or more cards, such as the plate card 70 and the bonus card 100, in determining the plurality of letters from which words may be formed greatly expands the possible combinations of letters that comprise the plurality of letters. Further, the loss of a card in this scenario has little or no impact on the playability of the game.
Referring now to FIGS. 1-3 and the foregoing discussion, during play, two or more players shuffle a pile of plate cards 70 and place them face down on rectangle 60, and then shuffle a pile of bonus cards 100 and place them face down on rectangle 64. Next, a predetermined or otherwise desired method will be chosen to determine the order of play. For example, each player may draw a card from the stack of plate cards 70, and the player with the lowest number represented in numeric portion 90 will be the first player. (Alternatively, the last letter in alphabetic portion 86 can be used, wherein the player with the letter closest to the beginning of the alphabet would be selected to be the first player. Other means of selecting the first player will occur to those of skill in the art.) The players will then return their cards to the bottom of the stack of plate cards. Each player will take then take a peg 68 and choose one of the tracks of holes 40 around tire 28, and place his or her peg 68 in the respective hole 40 corresponding to his or her chosen track on start line 44. It can be preferred, though not required, that each track correspond to the order of turn for each players round of play. For example, the outermost track will be reserved for the first player, the next track towards hub cap portion 32 will be reserved for the second player, and so on.
Next, the first player will draw a plate card 70 from the top of stack of plate cards 70 on rectangle 60, and a bonus card 100 from the top of the stack of bonus cards 100 on rectangle 64. For purposes of explaining this step, reference will be made to the exact plate card 70 shown in FIG. 2 and the exact plate card 100 shown in FIG. 3, however, it is to be understood that any combination of plate card 70, (bearing any combination of letters 86 and numbers 90), and bonus card 100 (bearing any single letter 104) could be drawn by the first player. Thus, continuing with the example, the first player then utilizes the combinations of letters 86 on plate card 70 and the additional letter 104 provided on bonus card 100 to form words.
For example, since the letter combinations “ACHT” and “R” are available to the first player, the first player will then construct words using these letters. Points are awarded for the number of letters in each word. In the present embodiment, it is not required that all letters be used. Table I shows a list of words that could be formed from this letter combination, and the points awarded therefor.
| ||TABLE I |
| || |
| || |
| ||Plate Card = ACHT 567 || |
| ||Bonus Card = R |
| ||WORD ||POINTS |
| || |
| ||A ||1 |
| ||HA ||2 |
| ||HAT ||3 |
| ||CAT ||3 |
| ||ART ||3 |
| ||CHAT ||4 |
| ||RAT ||3 |
| ||CART ||4 |
| ||CHART ||5 |
| ||TOTAL ||28 |
| || |
The first player will thus earn twenty-eight points, and move his peg 68 twenty-eight holes 40 along the outer track of tire 28 on board 20, to thereby mark the acquisition of twenty-eight points. The first player then returns the cards 70, 100 to the bottom of their stacks. Stacks of cards 70, 100 can be shuffled upon having drawn each card in a stack to provide more random combinations of letters.
The remaining players then play their turns in substantially the same manner, beginning anew with the first player until one of the players reaches the end line 48, thereby signifying a winner of the game.
In another embodiment of the invention, a computing device for playing an anagram game is shown in FIG. 4 and indicated generally at 200. Device 200 includes a means for input 204, which in the present embodiment is in the form of a plurality of keys 208 and graffiti-writing space 212 for accepting hand-writing that is recognized on a character-by-character basis by device 200. It will be understood by those of skill in the art, however, that any type of means for input 204 can be used, in lieu of those shown in FIG. 4.
Device 200 further includes a means for output. In a present embodiment, means for output is a pixellated liquid crystal display 216, however, other types of displays (e.g. such as electroluminescent) and output devices (e.g. audio) can be used, as desired.
Device 200 is further characterized by a chassis 220 that houses means for input 204 and means for output. Overall device 200 is small enough to be readily carried by a user. Those of skill in the art will now recognize that device 200 can be achieved with a handheld computer, such as the Palm Pilot series of personal digital assistants or the like.
Device 200 can have means for communication, such as an IR communications port 224. Thus, while not shown in FIG. 4, device 200 further houses a plurality of internal components including means for processing (such as an Intel™ processor), means for storage (such as flash RAM), and a power supply to provide a self-contained computing device. The internal components of device 200 cooperate to receive user input from input device 208, and present user output on display 216. It will thus be further understood that device 200 of FIG. 4 is but one example of a suitable computing device for implementing an embodiment of the present invention.
In order to assist in the explanation of the present embodiment shown in FIG. 4, reference will now be made to FIG. 5 which depicts a flow-chart of programming steps being executed by the means for processing during a turn of play by one of the players. Beginning first at step 300, device 200 generates one or more plate cards 70. In a present embodiment, this is performed by generating the contents of cards 70, (using a random number generator or a predefined table or any other desired means), of four letters and three numbers, in the form of, for example, the plate card 70 shown in FIG. 2. Optionally, in addition, device 200 can generate an additional plate card, in the form of, for example, the bonus card 100 shown in FIG. 3. Having generated the contents of the cards, they are then displayed on display 216, in a suitable position, such as the position shown on FIG. 4. In particular, the cards are displayed in the representation of a license plate, again in the form such as that shown in FIG. 2 or the like.
At step 310, device 200 waits to receive user input of a proposed word that can be formed using the letters from the plate cards generated and displayed at step 300. Thus, a player or user will enter his or her proposed word using means for inputting 204, typically using the graffiti-writing space 212. As shown in FIG. 4, an exemplary word that could be entered is “RAT”.
Next, at step 320, device 200 then compares the word entered at step 310 with a known set of possible words that can be generated from the plate cards 70, 100 generated at step 300. This is typically performed by first comparing the word entered at step 310 with a predefined dictionary stored in persistent memory of device 200, and then ensure that each letter of the word entered at step 310 matches with the letters generated at step 300. If, step 320, device 200 determines that the inputted word does not matches a possible word from the plate cards 70, 100, then the method advances to step 330, where the word is rejected, and then the method returns to step 310 to receive the next word.
However, if a valid word has been entered as determined at step 320, the method advances to step 340 and the entered word is displayed in a word list on display 216. As seen in FIG. 4, in the example displayed on display 216, the words “HAT” and “CAT” have already been validly entered and have been so displayed in accordance with step 340. Further, also in accordance with step 340, the score from the particular word is calculated and displayed beside the word, and the total score is displayed as well, as shown on the far right of display 216. Thus, at step 340, as the word “RAT” is accepted by device 200, the word “RAT” will then be displayed below the word “CAT”, and three points will then be displayed beside the word “RAT” and then added to the six points already awarded to the player, for a total of nine points. In the present example, three points are awarded, namely, one point for each letter in the word. However, other scoring schemes can be used, as desired.
The method then advances to step 360 where it is determined whether the entry of words is completed. This can be performed in a variety of ways. For example, a player can press one of the keys 208 that has been predefined to signal the “end” of the player's turn. Other ways of allowing a player to signal the end of can be used, as desired. Further, step 360 could also be reached by the expiry of a time limit in addition to or in lieu of allowing the player to signal that he or she has reached the end of his or her turn. Alternatively, or in addition, device 200 can be programmed to automatically terminate the round of play once all possible word combinations have been entered.
If, thus, it is determined at step 360 that the entry of words has NOT been completed, then the method returns to step 310 where the player is then allowed to enter an additional word, as previously described. However, if at step 360 it is determined that the entry of words is completed, then the method advances to step 380 and the game advances to the next player's turn, wherein steps 300-380 are then repeated for the next player.
Steps 300 to 380 can then be repeated, for any number of desired players, until a condition is met, such as one of the players reaching a preset goal is reached. Any other criteria for terminating the game can be chosen, as desired. In the present embodiment, the “winner” is the player with the highest number of points, but other criteria for choosing a “winner” can also be chosen, if desired.
Further, while not shown in the method of FIG. 5 for simplicity sake, it is to be understood that throughout the executing of steps 300-380 a player will be typically given an opportunity to terminate his or her turn unconditionally, without ever having entered in a word.
While the embodiments discussed herein are directed to specific implementations of the invention, it will be understood that combinations, sub-sets and variations of the embodiments are within the scope of the invention. For example, bonus cards 100 can in fact be any set of supplementary cards with which to provide more than one additional letters for each player to form words. For example, such bonus cards could be more plate cards (substantially identical to plate card 70 discussed above), or cards bearing two or more additional letters. Further modes of play can be provided, such as wherein bonus cards 100 are only drawn by a player if no words can be formed from the letters provided on plate card 70.
Further variations can include assigning a letter to correspond with a number on a license plate to provide additional letters. For example, the number “1” can be designated to mean the letter “A”, the number “2” to the letter “B” and so on. This can be particularly useful if plate card 70 is actually configured to mimic the structure of a license plate in a certain state or province that only includes, for example, three letters and four numbers, where it is desired to provide additional letters from which to form words. In this particular variation, a chart providing a list of corresponding numbers to letters can be provided within the game packaging or as part of a computer program used to play the game.
In a still further variation of the game, every fifth (or other desired interval) line 36 on board 24 can be marked differently from other lines 36, such as through the use of color, to designate such line 36 as a “bonus line”. In this mode of play, a player would only be entitled to draw a bonus card 100 if he or she had a pegged to that line 36 during his or her previous round of play.
The game may be played with cards 70, 100, pens and paper, i.e. without board 20, whereby a running total is maintained manually.
Any variety of scoring schemes can be employed to record each player's progress.
Further, it is understood that the term player may refer to a team of individuals who are cooperatively working together.
It is contemplated that a single stack of cards can be employed to play the game, whereby at least one card is drawn and one or more players form words provided the letters shown on the cards drawn.
In the computer-based game system, the images displayed can be of actual license plates.
Further, it is contemplated that the game can be played with two or more devices in communication with each other via means for communication such as Ethernet, Bluetooth® or IR communications between Palm Pilot-type devices.
The present invention provides a novel method and apparatus for providing randomized combinations of letters which can be used to form anagrams, thereby developing skill in word formation and recognition and/or providing a means of entertainment. By basing the randomized combinations of letters on cards bearing predetermined patterns of letters, such as the combinations found on license plates, a pre-packaged board game of the like described herein is advantageous over prior art games that can be rendered useless if a single tile or die bearing a letter is lost. Other advantages to the present invention will be apparent to those of skill in the art.
The above-described embodiments of the invention are intended to be examples of the present invention and alterations and modifications may be effected thereto, by those of skill in the art, without departing from the scope of the invention which is defined solely by the claims appended hereto.