Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Morphology: A Board Game Review and Giveaway!


Morphology was invented by Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College graduate Kate Ryan Reiling, who first envisioned aspects of the board game while stuck in her apartment during a snow storm many years ago. Along with her friends, Reiling used a Spanish-English dictionary, Jenga blocks, and Pente pieces to create a unique game that served as entertainment during the storm. After making a prototype board game and receiving much interest, Reiling pursued her vision and created Morphology Games in Fall of 2009. In 2010, Morphology received two "Top New Toys of 2010" nods at the New York Toy Fair; later that year it was selected as TIME's 2nd of the Top Ten Toys of the year. Morphology is part of PlaSmart Games.

Morphology is categorized as a "Family" game and is for ages eight and up, as well as for four or more players (since you need to create teams). The object of the game is to "correctly guess the words your teammates build to be the first team to reach the final lily pad".

What will you find inside the Morphology Board Game?
Four Wooden People, Six Wooden Blocks, Nine Glass Beads (of various colors), Twelve Cubes (of various colors), Two Black Circles, One Black String, One Timer, One Green Felt Piece, Four Frogs (your team pieces), 240 Word Cards, One Die, One Board, and One Rules Booklet

The rules of Morphology are simple -- first you want to divide players up into teams. Each team will get a different colored frog and will place it on the starting lily pad on the game board. The team with the youngest player will start, and you will need to decide whether you are playing with "easy" words or "hard" words. When I played, we started off with the easy words until we got the hang of the game, and then we switched to hard words for the second play. I would recommend "easy" words for younger children and "hard" words for older children. Each team will pick their first Morphologist, which is the person who will build a creation based on the word card first. The other team members will be guessing first, and this will rotate each turn. Both teams will start with a Free Play on the first lily pad, which simply means that you can use any of the pieces to build with.

To start, the Morphologist on the first team will draw a word card, and they will be the only one to look at the card. They will read a hint from the word card, and then the timer should be flipped over. Once the timer is flipped, the Morphologist can use any of the pieces included in the Morphology set to attempt to build the word on the card. The Morphologist cannot interact with the pieces (there is an exception, see below), speak (only "nodding, grunting and encouraging" is allowed), or spell out words, symbols, or numbers. Basically, you can animate the pieces you are building with, but you cannot be part of the animation.

The other members on the Morphologist's team have to try to guess the correct word before the timer runs out. If they guess correctly, the team can move their frog to the next lily pad. If they do not guess correctly, they will not go back, but will remain on the same lily pad. Play advances to the left.

Here are a few examples of the words and hints that you might find on a card: "Wagon - transportation", "Car Wash - place", "Volcano - outside", "Shoe Lace - Things you tie", "Tennis - play", "Kitchen - place", etc etc.

When you land on a lily pad that requires you to roll, there are several different rules that you will follow:
  •  If you roll a one - This is called a Free Play and you are allowed to build with any of the pieces, just as you did on the starting lily pad.
  • If you roll a two - This is called Everybody Plays and is like free play, except everyone gets to be part of the action. The Morphologist will build their word, and everyone gets to guess the answer. The first team to guess the correct answer gets to advance to the next lily pad. The only exception to this is if the team without the Morphologist building is right before the final lily pad. You can not advance to the final lily pad and win the game on an "Everybody Plays" or an "Interception" play.
  •  If you roll a three - This is called Morph and is akin to charades, using the game pieces. You are able to use your body to help act out your word if you are the Morphologist. Essentially, you become a game piece! In Morph, there is still no talking allowed.
  • If you roll a four - This is called Interception and the other team gets a chance to guess if your team cannot come up with the right answer. The Morphologist builds their word and the player on their team is allowed to guess first; if they cannot guess, the other team gets a chance to "steal" the play. They can advance to the next lily pad as long as it is not the final lily pad.
  •  If you roll a five - This is called Pick Five and you are only allowed to play with five of the game pieces. This is similar to Free Play, except that after the Morphologist picks up the card and obtains their word, they can only choose five pieces to act it out. After they choose five pieces, they will read the hint out loud and then turn the timer over and begin.
  • If you roll a six - This is called Ribbit Ribbit and certain noises are now acceptable. The Morphologist cannot say actual words, but can make noises that will help their teammates guess the correct answer.

Pick 5 + 1 is the last challenge to complete before you can win the game. For this play, the team without the Morphologist gets to pick the five pieces they would like the Morphologist to build with. They do not get to view the word ahead of time, and they can only choose five different pieces for the Morphologist (you are not allowed to give the other team something like five glass beads). Then, the Morphologist gets to pick one piece to build with after they have viewed their word. If the team guesses the word correctly, they win the game!

Although the Store Locator function on Morphology's website is being updated, the board game is available for purchase on Amazon, and in stores such as: Barnes and Noble, Marbles: The Brain Store, BAM! (Books a Million), Indigo, Scholar's Choice, Timberdoodle, etc. The average retail value is $29.99.

I am a self-acclaimed board game geek, so I was thrilled when Morphology agreed to let me review their board-game. Last weekend, my friends from college were able to come and visit my new apartment. I had been anxiously awaiting their visit, because I have been under a lot of stress lately with an overabundance of studying, and I had a whole week of exams prior. We were able to unwind a little, and I was excited to introduce them to Morphology during a "board game night" that we put together. It was definitely a crowd pleaser!

We loved that the rules were very easy to grasp-- at first you wonder if you will remember which number on the die corresponds to which type of play, but there is a reminder on the edge of the board in case you forget. There were four of us altogether, so we formed two separate teams. I think that Morphology would work well with any number of teams. It is also the kind of game that is extremely versatile and appropriate for most ages. It would be a great game for family night, but is also enjoyed by older adults as well. Some of the words were easy to build, and some of the concepts went un-guessed, so the level is well balanced for any age group also. We loved the creativity and innovation of Morphology; I can't say that I have played a game like it before. It is like a nice mixture of some type of charades and a game like Cranium. In my mind, the games that require interaction and thought are often the most fun. Also, the possibilities of game play are endless! There are many words to choose from (480 to be exact!) in different categories, and the beauty of it is that everyone's mind is different, so every word will be built in a slightly different way...that keeps the game fresh and interesting.

It took us around half an hour to finish a full game of Morphology, which is a perfect medium. I took many pictures (which you can see below) of the different words that we built...at least, the ones that weren't in action. Some of the things that we came up with were pretty hilarious. We enjoyed the constraints of Interception, Pick Five, and the Pick 5+1 challenge. We also found that we kept inadvertently starting to make noises when we animated our creations -- we had to keep quieting each other. You don't realize how hard it is not to start trying to explain something in words until you aren't allowed to talk!  

I can assure you that if you enjoy something more than just moving pieces on a board -- if you love to interact and get creative, then you will enjoy Morphology. You don't have to be an artist! Half the fun is trying to wrap your head around how you will create something given the various objects included in the game. Sometimes you have to think outside of the box, and hope that your partner is on your level. If you struggle with your creation, it just adds a nice touch of humor to the game.


Interested in learning more about Morphology? Check out the links below:


 One lucky reader will win their own copy of Morphology, courtesy of Morphology Games! All you need to do is enter on the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway is open to U.S. readers, 18 and over, unless you have permission from your parents. Please be honest when submitting Rafflecopter entries -- remember, I DO check all of your entries for verification, and I will throw them out if they are false. If the form has a spot for you to enter information, please provide me with the appropriate username, link, etc so that it is easier for me to verify your entries! I am not responsible for the shipment of the prize, that is the company's duty. I will contact the winner via email (so make sure to use one that you check) and you will have 48 hours to respond with your shipping information. If you have any questions or if the Rafflecopter is not working properly, you can always contact me via Facebook or email (links on the sidebar). Good luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I would like to win this for my kids. I really like that there is some interaction in the game and many ages can play it so no one is left out.

  2. Sounds like a fun game for rainy or snow days!

  3. I am trying to win this for my niece.

  4. I would love to win this game for my daughters.

  5. We are huge game people and this is so different that I know we would have a ton of fun

  6. Trying to win it for my nephew:)
    annejk112233 at yahoo dot com

  7. We are a big gaming family and I'd love to win this as a Christmas present. I think it would be fun for my kids and their cousins who visit us often to play.

  8. I want to win this for my daughter. I love the fact that no one gets left out. Cool

  9. I am winning it so I can enjoy the smiles of my kids and the kids I watch playing it and having fun with it. Thank you for the giveaway

  10. I am trying to win this for me!

  11. My hubby and I love to play board games, we have made lots of new friends :) And this game looks fun!

  12. I am trying to win this game for my son DJ and his friends.. it think they would have a blast playing it :)


  13. I'd love to win this for our family. Were always looking for a new board game to try.

  14. My family has regular game nights monthly (at least), and this would be great to play together!

  15. I'd love to win it for my grandchildren.

  16. I would love to win this for my niece! She loves playing games!

  17. I would love to win this for our family. We have 4 grown children & 14 grandchildren (1 whom lives with us). We get together at each other's houses once each month for game night. this would be a great new addition!

  18. win it for my family to play together on game night (fridays)

  19. I would love to win for my grandkids

  20. My Niece and Nephew would love playing this! I would love to win this for them.


  21. My family is crazy about games around the holidays - I want to win this to play with them!

  22. I would love to win this game for my nieces
    Thank You for the giveaway

    Fiona N

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