Wobble Mysteries

Wobble Mysteries
Release Date: 
Monday, April 1, 2024
Setup Time: 
Play Duration (new players): 
Play Duration (experienced): 
Minimum number of players: 
Maximum number of players: 
Minimum Age: 

Wobble Mysteries

An asymmetric Wordle/Scrabble mashup for a wordy mastermind and one to four clever detectives
By Jonathan Leistiko 
Inspired by a prompt from the Board Game Design Lab community on Facebook


Something strange is afoot in the city of Abblescra. A devious mastermind has pulled off a cunning caper. They have a head-start on you, but they’ve left a trail of clues. Can you decipher the clues and foil their fiendish plan before they escape?


If you’re the mastermind, you’re playing one-player Scrabble. Your goal is to complete your getaway by accumulating 250 “scheme” points. Simple, right? 

Wrong. There’s a team of detectives determined to foil your plans.

If you’re a detective, your goal is to decipher the clues the mastermind’s left behind by figuring out the words the mastermind’s played. You do this by picking an unknown word, making a guess, and using the mastermind’s answer to deduce what the word is. Your team wins if it accumulates 250 “clue” points.

You Need

Note: These rules are also available as a Google Doc at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1--vY_LCu3XWhssxIhfXCv50OS4yNLwvqwrI26yYkLRY/edit?usp=sharing

Set Up

  • Pick one player to be the mastermind. Everyone else is a detective.
  • Put the Scrabble® board where everyone can see it, and in easy reach of the mastermind.
  • If you’re the mastermind, take a mastermind play sheet, a pencil, and (optionally) a “hide your stuff” screen. Also take a tile rack and put the tile bag nearby. Draw seven tiles, put them on your rack, and keep them secret. Start thinking of your first word.
  • If you’re a detective, take a detective play sheet and a pencil.
  • Put the Wobble Mysteries play sheets in easy reach of all players.


You play Wobble Mysteries in rounds. Each round has two turns: A mastermind turn, and a detectives turn. The mastermind is the only actor during the mastermind turn, and the detectives are the primary actors during the detectives turn. The game starts with a mastermind turn, then a detective turn, and continues to alternate for the rest of the game.

The Mastermind Turn

  1. If you’re the mastermind, you’re playing Scrabble™ with all normal rules, but by yourself and with the following additional rules:
  2. When you make a word, write it down on your play sheet on the board where you played it and on the side in the next numbered blank for “words played.” If you used a blank, make a note of what tile was blank.
  3. Set the tiles you played aside face-down in their own pile so you can put them on the board later if you need to.
  4. After you make a word, place letter stand-in tokens on the board where you would normally keep the tiles. Also announce how many points you scored for the word and what your total score is. Write both of those on your play sheet in the spaces provided.
  5. Set up a Wobble Mysteries clue sheet for the word. Write the turn number in the space provided, write what the word scored in the space provided, and put stars in the clue word boxes to represent the number of tiles in the word. Hand the new clue sheet to the detectives.
  6. If your score is 250 or greater, let the detectives know that they must deduce a clue this round or you will escape and win. Feel free to mock them or monologue a little – you’ve earned it.

The Detective Turn

  1. No matter how many detective players there are, you only get one turn and one guess per round. Work as a team to make decisions in steps 1 and 2.
  2. Detectives: Pick a clue sheet.
  3. Detectives: Write your guess for what the word might be on the first blank line of the clue sheet and hand it to the mastermind.
  4. Mastermind: Compare the detectives’ guess to the actual word. Put a box around each letter that’s correct and in the correct position. Put a line under each letter that’s correct and in the wrong position. Hand the clue sheet back to the detectives.
    1. If the detectives’ guess repeats a letter, but the letter only occurs once, answer the most correct letter first, then ignore the less correct letter.
    2. Example: Your word is “TRAVEL” and the detectives guess “STREET” you would put a line under the T and R and a box around the second E. You would leave all the other letters alone.
    3. It should go without saying, but you must answer honestly and accurately.
  5. Mastermind: If the guess was correct, replace the word’s placeholder tiles on the board with its real tiles and reduce your score by the word’s score.
  6. Detectives: If the guess was correct, increase your score by the word’s score.

Ending the Game and Winning

At the end of each round, if at least one team has 250 points or more. The game ends. If you’re the mastermind and you have more points, you successfully execute the last steps of your plot and escape without repercussions. Gloating is in order. If you’re a detective and your team has more points, you successfully pieced together enough evidence to convict the mastermind. Congratulations!

Origin and Credits

On Feb 2, 2024, a moderator of the Board Game Design Lab group posted a design challenge with a theme of “curious detectives” and a mechanic of “strategic word game.” (https://www.facebook.com/groups/BGDLCommunity/permalink/1716115585577738...) I saw the post shortly after it was posted and replied with an outline of this game. I wrote the first draft of these rules (including these notes) later that day. I still have to make the play sheets, but the game’s pretty much done. My big concern is if 250 is a sufficient endgame threshold.


The Case of the Curious Colophon

Detective Power: Insight

Once per game, each detective may point at a placeholder (blank) tile in play and ask the mastermind to replace it with the correct tile. When this happens, the mastermind scores the value of that letter, including special letter and word multipliers.

Mastermind Power: Slippery

Once per game, you may skip announcing your word and running total for one turn. If you do this, you may (and should) skip announcing the word total on the round immediately following.

Mastermind goal: Colophon

Make the words emblem, imprint, title, and spine: +10 points per word; +10 points for all four (50 points total for all four words.).