Are you in the mood to have some fun with your buddies on a game night? We know how that feels.
Simply grab your yellow banana pouch and enjoy an exciting time playing this competitive game of Bananagrams.
Bananagrams can be played by at least 2 players and up to 8 participants. It’s a fast-paced word game that is quite similar to both Scrabble and Boggle. It starts with 144 tiles.
These are to be spread out face down on a table. When you’ve up to 4 players, each participant will take 21 letters, face down.
When there are 5 – 6 players, each person will take 15 letters, while with 7 or more participants, each player will be assigned 11 letters.
Like Boggle, the gameplay here takes place quickly and doesn’t involve turns. In Bananagrams, like we’ve it in Scrabble, each player has to build his/her own interlocking grid of words until they’ve exhausted all of their letters.
Can you play the game all alone? We’ll find out in a bit. Let’s show you how to play Bananagrams.
Bananagram Rules & Strategies For Beginners
In a Bananagrams pouch, we’ve 144 tiles.
Lay down all 144 tiles on a flat surface and ensure that every tile is face down.
According to the number of players available, you’ll determine the number of tiles each player takes. These are the guidelines to follow:
- 2 – 4 players: 21 tiles are assigned to each player
- 5 – 6 players: 15 tiles are given to each player
- 7 – 8 players: 11 tiles are assigned to each player
Collect your tiles. Then, wait for a participant to yell “Split” so that the game can start.
At this juncture, all players will turn over their tiles and start to make words into crossword-like grids.
This works in a similar way to laying out and connecting words in Scrabble with horizontal grids stretching from left to right or vertical ones from top to bottom.
But unlike Scrabble, no board is available with designated points.
Instead of that, the object of the game is to lay out words and develop your free-form grid as fast as you can.
You’re allowed to rearrange words and re-construct your grid whenever you
The important thing is to work faster than your opponents in putting something together.
Some Terms to Note
If you’re looking to learn how to play Bananagrams, you need to be familiar with its jargon:
You yell “Dump” to take one of your tiles back to the pile. Here, the trade-off is that to continue play, you’ve to grab 3 more tiles.
When you’ve one face-up tile left, you can call out “Peel!” and each of the remaining players will pick up an additional tile out of the letters pile (also called the “Bunch”).
Winning the Game
In Bananagrams, the winner is that player who first forms words with all of their tiles in a connected grid and yells “Bananas!”
Bear in mind that a player can only yell “Bananas” as soon as the tile bunch has been reduced to fewer tiles compared with the number of players.
After a player has become victorious, the next thing is to inspect their grid and check if they’ve any of these unacceptable words:
- Proper nouns
- Misspelled words
- Words that aren’t in a standard dictionary
- Words that don’t comply with any other rules stipulated before the game (such as “did you every player agree to use 2-letter words?”)
If there’s a mistake, you’ll yell “Rotten Bananas!” and the offending player will now be expelled from the game.
You’ll return his/her tiles facedown to the bunch pile. And play will resume.
Unacceptable Words in Bananagrams
Part of learning how to play Bananagrams is identifying words that are not allowed in the game.
While this is quite obvious sometimes, at other times, you may find it all gets fuzzy, trying to make the distinction between words that are allowed and those disallowed.
So, it does help to state some specific rules.
A way to do this is to choose a standard dictionary (such as Merriam-Webster) as the governing word reference before starting the game.
Alternatively, if you’ve a Scrabble dictionary, you can make use of it to serve as an expanded game-friendly word reference.
Better still, you can simply input the questionable word into this free online tool to know if it’s in the Scrabble dictionary.
Generally, you can’t make use of any words requiring a capital letter. And abbreviations aren’t allowed.
Further, you may elect to accept foreign words or not.
A common method to play is if you’re playing an English version of the game, only allow a foreign word if it can also be found in an English dictionary.
Also, the majority of players allow two-letter words. However, some die-hard word gamers don’t like accepting them.
The Pouch — What’s in It?
Earlier, we explained that there are 144 letter tiles in a pouch.
However, it’s useful to be familiar with the number of each letter the pouch contains. Thus, we offer you a breakdown of the letter distribution below:
Pro Tips to Play Bananagrams
Apart from being fast and creative with your word skills, to win games consistently, you’ll need to master a handful of other strategic tips.
We discuss these below:
For starters, keep in mind that during gameplay, the grid is flexible. This means that there’s no need to be too fixated on your present grid.
In case it isn’t working, rearrange things to improve it and start afresh during the game.
Every player will work on their grid at their own pace. And Bananagrams has no turns.
For this reason, you need to monitor your opponents’ grids.
Check to see if he/she is moving along quickly or struggling to build their grid.
Armed with that info about your competitors’ moves, you can adjust your own pacing accordingly.
You should also consider using those tricky letters as soon as you can. Try to utilize them so that you can form words quickly.
For instance, if you’ve a “Q” in your bunch, adding “I” gives you “QI”, which is a 2-letter word, meaning “vital energy that is held to animate the body internally, according to Merriam-Webster’s.
That takes us the next pro tip: learn those obscure (and sometimes weird) 2 and 3-letter words.
If you master this strategy, it can be a deciding factor in you winning games.
Also, practice by playing lots of Scrabble. Doing this will help improve your word game vocabulary, hone your grid building skills and speed.
FAQs about How to Play Bananagrams
Who’s the inventor of Bananagrams?
This game was invented by the late Abe Nathanson. When he was 79, Nathanson, who was a graphic designer based in Rhode Island, was enjoying a game of Scrabble with his grandsons.
And he thought it would bring more fun to play an “anagrams game so fast it will drive you bananas.”
Can I play Bananagrams by myself?
Yes! Though it’s a fun game that’s best played with 2 – 8 players, you can surely practice your wordsmithery skills and whirl away time by playing this game alone.
Playing the solitaire version of Bananagrams will give you a lot of fun. Here, you’ll play with 21 tiles and aim to beat your own time.
Ensure you keep the tiles face down and strive to replicate a real game as much as you can.
Can Bananagrams be considered a bar game?
This game is clearly great for families. As a matter of fact, it’s perfect every age within 7 – 107.
Apart from that, Bananagrams is also a fascinating bar game. In fact, it’s among the best bar games out there.
More interestingly, it’s suitable for almost all venues. To enjoy some drinks with your pals, you can lay out the tiles and play an exciting game of Bananagrams.
You can even play it in the park, while on a trip, or while relaxing at work.
You can also play the “Cafe” style of this game by drawing from the pouch rather than dumping out the tiles on the table. There’s no dumping in this variant, only peeling.
Am I allowed to slightly change the rules to speed up play or make the game easier for beginners?
Of course! Other than playing by the traditional rules, you can try adaptive play to make things easier while learning the ropes or speed up gameplay.
How can I teach people to play Bananagrams?
The rules of Bananagrams are pretty easy to pick up. You’ll find the full instructions in your Bananagrams pouch.
Wrapping up today’s post on how to play Bananagrams, this game can be fun and exciting to participate in with your buddies.
Simply follow the instructions and rules of the game and be ready to have a great time!