Verba Volant, Scripta Manent

(The words fly away, the writings remain.)

A game of letters and bluff Copyright by Bruno Faidutti.
This page last updated August 6, 1997

Components needed

A deck of cards with letters on them, roughly the same distribution as Scrabble. [Note from sos: in the USA, Word Madness fits this bill remarkably well - see the list of Letter-By-Letter Word Games.] I suppose you could play with Scrabble tiles, but it makes a "hand" awkward.

Rules of the game

  1. Each player draws at random a card in the pack; the one who gets the letter closest to the beginning of the alphabet will be the first player. Then players act in clockwise order. Drawn cards are put back in the pack which is shuffled and placed in the center of the table as a draw pile.
  2. The first player takes the top five cards of the draw pile without showing them to the other players. After looking at them, he announces to the player on his left a word of his choice, composed of no more than four letters. He is stating that the word he announces can be found in his hand of cards. However, he may be bluffing: the cards do not have to contain that word - or any word at all, for that matter.
  3. If the next player accepts his statement, the first player gives him all the cards without showing them to the rest of the players. The second player then looks at the cards, discards one card face down, and draws the top two cards of the draw pile. He then announces to the next player, in the same way, a word longer than the first one.
  4. So long as the word is accepted, the game continues from one player to the next, each player discarding one card and drawing two cards before announcing a new word. Each word must be longer than the previous one.
  5. The player to whom a word is announced may refuse the statement of the previous player, saying "liar". (A player is not allowed to express any disbelief during any phase except when they are handed the cards.) The letters in hand are revealed to all. If the announced word can really be found in the hand, the wrongly accused player earns as many points as letters in the word. If the letters in the hand cannot form the announced word then the accusing player earns the points.
  6. A hand which has been revealed is completely discarded. The next player draws five new cards and he must announce a new word.
  7. As an exception to rule 4, above, any player drawing five new cards may not announce from the outset a word composed of five letters - four is the maximum in such a case.
  8. When the draw pile is empty, all of the discarded cards are shuffled to form a new draw pile.
  9. The winner is the first player to reach a score of 25 points.

Bruno Faidutti
Games & Unicorns
124 rue de Belleville
75020 PARIS
tel 01 40 33 17 95

Back to Letter-by-Letter Word Games
Back to SOS' Gameviews
Back to Steffan O'Sullivan's Home Page