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Lord Word Worm is a word game concept created and owned by Australian company Inventerprising. The game is currently available as paper puzzles and as a Facebook application. Both forms share similar concepts, but vary in individual rules. The concept was inspired by Word Ladder (invented by Lewis Carroll in 1877) whereby a single letter in a word is altered to create a new word, and this process is repeated to create a chain of words.
Lord Word Worm is presented as a series of hexagons, with each hex containing a four-letter word. As the player adds more words, the sequence increases in size, thus creating a word worm. Presumably the name "Lord Word Worm" was chosen because the three words form a four-letter Word Ladder.
In both the online and paper form of the game, the direction of the sequence of words is paramount. In the online game, players attempt to achieve the highest score possible. In the paper puzzle, players attempt to solve the puzzle to find the unique solution.
The Lord Word Worm Paper Puzzle concept was announced in July 2011 with the first two puzzles published in CityNews on July 21.
The common rules in both variants of Lord Word Worm are:
- Players create a chain of four-letter words by using an initial word, then altering only one letter to create a new word.
- The new word must be a normal English word in current use, cannot be a proper noun, cannot be slang, offensive or a contraction.
- Words can only appear once within the sequence of currently used words.
- When extending the worm (adding a new word to the sequence), the direction of the extension is chosen by the player.
- The worm cannot cross over its own path, but the two ends can join up with themselves.
- Some hex positions already contain letters. These are constraints regarding the required composition of the word to be placed in that position (details vary depending on game variation).
In the Online Game variant, players attempt to achieve the highest score possible by placing high-scoring word-tiles on the board whilst collecting bonus score gems.
Players have a store of letters that are used to create new word-tiles. Once a letter is used, it is depleted and not available again (to create another word-tile) until it is replenished. Once sufficient letters have been depleted, players will want to replenish them. This costs 1c per letter (selected randomly), from the Lord Word Worm Bank.
The Lord Word Worm Bank can be increased by:
- placing word-tiles (1c per tile)
- collecting emerald gems
- submitting a game (1c per 50 points)
- coming back later (20c / 48 hours)
- using a debit/credit card.
The scoring system uses an uncommon method in which percentage bonuses collected along the path are compounded together rather than added, similar to the way compound interest is applied to currency. The Lord Word Worm Advanced Guide states, "A half-completed Board will typically score more than twice the points of a quarter-completed Board."
Players choose from a selection of boards, including random easy, medium and hard boards in addition to hand-designed boards of varying shapes and sizes. Each week a new hand-designed board is included, and made available for the whole week.
High Scores lists show: Grand Totals for the current calendar quarter; Three Week Totals for players' top three score totals over the past three weeks; and the current and previous week's scores.
In the Paper Puzzle variant, players attempt to solve the puzzle and arrive at its unique solution.
Players need to draw lines between the hexes to ensure that every hex is joined to two other hexes. The puzzles start with some letters of various words already provided. Players must fill in the remaining letters.
If a player manages to join every hex to two adjacent hexes (thus creating a continuous loop), and fills in all the letters so that each pair of joined words have only one letter different, [and] all the words are valid words, then they have successfully found the solution.
Puzzle difficulties are ranked using the common one to five star ranking (although hexagons are used in place of stars). Inventerprising claims their Expert level (five star) puzzles often take experienced puzzlers several hours to solve. They also advise players to "practice on easier puzzles to develop their skills" before attempting the difficult ones.
When the Lord Word Worm online game was first announced on Reddit it met some resistance due to it being a Facebook Game but was later discussed again on Reddit where alternatives to Facebook were suggested and recommended.
Inventerprising indicates they are currently in discussions with various print publications to organize including their Lord Word Worm Paper Puzzles in the puzzle sections. Between December 2011 and January 2012, Lord Word Worm Puzzles were published in the Herald Sun (highest-circulating newspaper in Australia). In December 2011, Tweed Daily News began publishing the puzzles.
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