The Free Dictionary defines letterpress as “The process of printing from a raised inked surface”, while us Brits also consider it “The text, as of a book, distinct from illustrations or other ornamentation”.
It’s also an excellent multiplayer word game from former twitter app chap, Loren Brichter. Did I mention it’s excellent? Yes I did. Good.
Letterpress was reportedly inspired by SpellTower, which is predominantly a single-player game. Letterpress, on the other hand, is always played in pairs, with Game Center being a prerequisite.
What’s the dealio? Essentially, in Letterpress, you have a 5x5 grid of letters, and the aim is to colour the most territory by spelling out words in turn-based fashion. The game ends when all letters are coloured red or blue.
Sounds easy enough, right? Well, it’s a little more complex. Bear with me here.
If you surround a letter in Letterpress, it goes dark, meaning your opponent can’t steal that letter on their turn. They can still use it, but it won’t net them any points. Make sense? Good.
And that’s Letterpress in a delicious nutshell. Simple, but incredibly deep.
Letterpress is initially free, and paying a modest 69p to unlock the full version allows you to play more games simultaneously; adds a list of used words (in the free version you can only see the last played words, though you can review all words when the game ends); and adds some lovely themes. Well worth 69p.
Gripes? A tiny one to start off with: we could really use some sort of Letterpress instant messaging option, as found in Words With Friends (had to mention it some time).
A slightly larger gripe is that I’m not entirely sure how fair Letterpress is. There are theories on the cyberweb about tactics that almost always yield victory, though - scanning over them – it sounds more like common sense.
Worse still, there’s a Letterpress solution app, though I can’t vouch for its effectiveness.
It’s also possible to fire the 25 Letterpress letters into an anagram site, though this definitely becomes – in theory – less effective as the game goes on; it’s way more cerebral and tactical than simply aiming for the largest words.
On the cerebral note, I’ve had a lot of opponents who don’t quite seem to fully grasp Letterpress, though – to be fair – I’ve played dozens and dozens of games, and I tend to exhibit shades of autism in gaming contexts.
I dare say I’ll revisit Letterpress in future (in the writing-about-it sense), but for now I reckon it’s pretty damn good. Give it a shot and let us know what you think.
- Initially free, full version is only 69p
- Very cerebral
- A great “social” game
- Is it possible to... cheat?
- Could use an IM option
- Lots of opponents don’t seem to fully get it
Summary: Part Boggle, part Risk, Letterpress is an excellent word-based strategy game.
Price: free @ App Store
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation), iPod touch (5th generation) and iPad. Requires iOS 5.0 or later. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.