Players are given a list of categories. In each round, each player randomly draws seven letters from a stock of letter cards/tiles. Players have two opportunities to exchange some or all of the letters with new draws. With the final set of letters, each player forms an answer, 2-7 letters long, that satisfies one of the categories. If no category answer is available, the player may form a dictionary word for the “Chance” category; if “Chance” has been used the player must cross out one of the unused categories. Players score points based on the lengths of the answers for each category; crossed-out categories score zero. The player with the highest total score wins.
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I first presented this game at a mini-convention in Los Angeles. The name Futz sounds sort of like “Yahtzee,” on which the game is based, and suggests the futzing around with letters to find answers; it also sounds like a euphemistic expletive that a player might shout in response to uncooperative letters. Tony Delgado, one of the players at the the game’s LA miniconvention debut, proposed changing the name to to “FUTM” based on an apt quasi-acronym. The LA version featured decks of 21 letters cards, each containing a reasonable consonant-vowel ratio and one wild card that could represent any letter. Decks were also seeded with possible seven-letter answers for the categories (DELILAH for Biblical characters, NAIROBI World Capitals, etc.) Futz was rerun for the after-hours of ACPT in 2005, the year that Patrick Creadon attended the tournament to film the documentary Wordplay. Patrick’s crew shot the group playing Futz but the footage inexplicably ended up on the cutting room floor.