Pack O Review: SHH
I’ve always had a complicated relationship with word games. Raised from birth to compete in Scrabble, I can identify all the best two- and three-letter words. I’m the guy you accuse of cheating when playing online. But I’m not cheating. It’s just that I’m a robot with a singular purpose, and that purpose is to spell QUICHES on a triple-word score.
With that level of programming rattling around my head, you’d think SHH would be my sort of thing. So let’s talk.
Perhaps the most immediately interesting thing about SHH is that it’s the only entry in the original Pack O Game that’s cooperative. Rather than playing for points, à la Paperback or Scrabble or Boggle or pretty much any other word game — science long ago concluded that people who know their letters also love tallying scores — you’ll instead be assembling words around the table, one letter at a time. The twist is that everyone gets their own hand of letters, there’s only one of each, and you’re strictly forbidden from talking through the problem ranged before you.
Other than being a strict librarian’s dystopian fantasy, SHH isn’t entirely sadistic. The vowels are free cards, and reusable with each new word. There are also a number of passes available, providing some minor recourse for anybody whose turn rolls around with a big fat XY sitting in front of them. Pro-tip: XYST is totally in the dictionary.
It’s a fine little game, neither thrilling nor disappointing. If anything, it joins the likes of GEM as one of the Pack O Game’s more middling offerings. The goal is to craft enough words — and hopefully craft enough lengthy ones — to earn a decent wad of points once your vocabulary runs thin. Tally up your points, compare yourself against the chart on the rulesheet, and there you go. Want to play another?
Perhaps it’s my general dislike of cooperative games that prevents me from regarding SHH as anything more than an airplane game. I’d rather outmaneuver a human mind than a score chart. If anything, a game like Paperback is more my speed, and decently portable in its own right.
Really, everyone interested in word games just ought to look into Paperback. Seriously, it’s good.