Ambigrammic Letter Tiles (v2.0)

I decided to add a new twist to my favorite crossword board game.

These Ambigrammic Letter Tiles are designed such that many of the square pieces, when rotated 90 degrees, display an alternate letter. Some of the tiles can be used for up to three different letters! The hope is that these tiles will inject a new skill requisite into a typical game. Beyond word knowledge, board tactics, and letter leaves, now spatial manipulation becomes important. Being able to mentally rotate tiles will help a player notice more possible words than before.

The tiles pictured here are engraved and laser-cut from 1/4" poplar wood. They are 3/4" squares (not slightly oblong... since you may be rotating them and playing and playing them in 90 degree increments). To the right you can see all of the different possible letter orientations. You'll note that some letters get both upper- and lower-case representations. Here is an illustration that shows the full set of 100 tiles that I've made.

SCRABBLE players will note that not only is the letter distribution among the tiles different from the standard version of that game, but the point values associated with each letter are also altered. I changed some of the values for a few reasons:

  1. Since most of the "power" letters can be used as other letters, and because there are often more of them (many more possible Js and Qs), I lowered their values.
  2. I think the values of Q and Z are a bit better since QI and ZA are acceptable (and powerful) plays under the Tournament Wordlist. X was also devalued a bit simply because of its strong ability to form two-letter words.
  3. I have always felt some of the other tiles were a bit overvalued (C, H, and P in particular).
  4. [v2.0] Because of the added versatility of the tiles, I have removed the usual "blank" tiles. Omission of blanks also removes any issues of "brailling" blank tiles. And, of course, there are those players who think the blanks add too much luck to the game anyway.
Of course, since tiles can possibly rotated and used as different letters, some of them have more than one score/value on them. The point value in the lower right corner indicates the value of the tile in a particular orientation.

Here is a set of pictures that shows the versatility these Ambigrammic Letter Tiles can add to a play. This rack of seven tiles shows the six letter word SHADOW:

Not bad, but with the right rearrangement and reorientation of tiles, a player might find the word POACHES:

With a little more investigation, the same tiles can also be used to form the word DYNAMOS:

Back to my main Scrabble webpage.

HASBRO is the owner of the registered SCRABBLE® trademark in the United States and Canada. The Ambigrammic Tiles described on this page are not affiliated with HASBRO in any way; they are a creation of Eric Harshbarger.
All photographs and text on this website as well as the design of the Ambigrammic Letter Tiles themselves are © Copyright 2011 to Eric Harshbarger unless otherwise noted.