The Final Word was sent to me a while back, while I was still taking on preview copies of games. Each copy of the game contains 120 cards, each with a letter and a score value similar to a Scrabble tile. There’s also a rulebook that contains several generic “moves” and 24 games that can be played with the cards and the moves outlined at the start. Each game lists what moves it uses, as well as the difficulty. It’s an interesting concept, but one that didn’t quite live up to my expectations.
I love word games. There’s something about them that feels timeless. Unfortunately, The Final Word feels a bit too generic in an industry that has shown some really innovative mechanics over recent years. Honestly, it feels like you could print out letter cards on your own and use the free rules provided on the website to play any of the games they contain. There’s nothing special about the cards at all. They’re extremely plain. Even then, you’re better off playing something like Letter Tycoon or Letter Jam, and I’m not even a fan of Letter Jam.
I can see The Final Word doing well in a classroom environment with its variety, but even on the shelves of a mass-market store, there are still better games to choose from. With a bit more polish in the art direction and graphic design, it could be a game worth purchasing. Possibly if there were more to each card than just a letter and score, there could be even more variety, and it could truly be a system that could open the doors to a wonderful multitude of word games. As it exists in its current form, I don’t see a place for it.
Then comes another problem I have, less with the game and more with how its designer, Faye Klein, describes it. A problem that makes my thoughts about how the game could be cleaned up or used in a classroom and tosses them right out the door. Let me just post the offending section of Faye’s website here, and I’ll let you take a guess:
Hate reading “how to play rules?”
Games can be mansplained in 2 minutes so you can plunge in quickly without a laborious list of rules. There are 5 key principles that apply to all games and a group of groovy moves specific to each iteration. You may choose your words carefully, but it will still take skill to convert cards to words — long words, odd words, buzz words, even fightin’ words — in games that range from easy to expert. See the brief description of the most popular five games included.
Did you pick up on my issue?
“Games can be mansplained in 2 minutes“
What the actual hell? Either this is a very crudely enacted joke, or it came from a very tone-deaf writer. It has no place in a description for any game, no less one that’s marketed towards families, educational settings, and the like. It’s a horrible term to use with an absolutely negative connotation. The very definition of “mansplain” includes both the words “condescending” and “patronizing.” Even if I enjoyed the game, I couldn’t stand behind something so blatantly sexist and offensive.
Normally I’d say something like “I’m not a fan of this game, but there may be people out there who enjoy it.” This time around I’m going to say this. Steer clear of the The Final Word. It’s not great. Don’t buy it. Don’t back it on any crowd funding platform it shows up on.
Media personality Rob “Devar-TTY” Kalajian has been a staple in the board game world for many years. As a former writer for Purple Pawn and the owner of Devar-TTY’s Pawns Perspective, Dev now focuses mostly on video games and TTRPGs. A self-proclaimed geek, Rob loves all things toys and games and even helps raise his four kids in his spare time.