I think it makes the most sense to just pick it up from the middle. I was pretty much forced into creating this by Nelson when I taught him the wordplay exercise that follows. As I see it right now, the plan is to, over time, introduce all of the games that have become part of my canon and note the totally unnecessary research that I’ve done in the past.
So, first, the promised game. This game was in some way conceived from Mr. Coyle’s Transadditional Pyramid, which deserves its own entry and will get one later. It began as an exercise in chaining five-letter words together: CRASH to SHARD to HARDY and so on. So you’re allowed to change one letter and rearrange the remaining ones. There’s no real restriction on making “cheap” changes like PORED to PORES, but I generally attempt to avoid them. You’re never allowed to repeat a word that’s already appeared in the chain.
What you’ll find when you do this is that it goes on forever. Which is neat. But generally uninteresting from a gaming perspective. So then (maybe it was Mike or Thom that came up with this) we decided that we would force certain words to be in the list. The idea originally was to create a tug-of-war kind of game, where I would be trying to make one word and my opponent is trying to make another, and we’re using the same chain — but this doesn’t make sense even in theory, because keeping the letters of the opponent’s word out of the chain would be very simple. To my knowledge a varient of this game that revolves around that concept has never been created.
What we instead have patented is the following process: Before beginning the game, the player decides upon five five-letter words (serious people play with six but I’ll phrase the rules in terms of five). These words must differ from each other by at least three letters. So you’re not allowed to use the words PARCH and CHARM as two of your five words. (This winds up being quite a challenge in itself!) Four of your words are the goal words; the fifth is your start. You must create a chain that contains all four of the goal words beginning with your start word. There is no score for the game; you assess your game when it is over by either deciding victory or otherwise. I’m sure you could find the shortest path through them if you really wanted to, but that’s not really the point in my mind. To this end I try to avoid erasing plays unless I see no other way to finish the game.
Here’s the game I played that I showed Nelson (circa 05.12.22). Hopefully you can pick up on my notation very rapidly.
WHIRL OBOES PERKY CHARM ------------------------ EXIST SPARK WORST RABID TIRES SPRAY WROTH BARED HIRES PREYS WHORL BORED HARES PERKY! WHIRL! BORES HAREM PERKS TWIRL OBOES! CHARM! PARKS TRILL HARMS PARTS TRAIL SHARK WARTS TRIAD