Word games fit so well on iOS, and especially the asynchronous variety allowing you to play your turn at your own pace. Word Derby is a brand new word game that offers a word scrambler style where the first letter is fixed, and you have 12 other letters to choose from to make the best word you can. The word puzzle style has been seen before, but Word Derby changes it up, by adding in a whole new game mechanic. If you’re familiar with those classic carnival horse racing games where you toss a ball into numbered slots to move your horse forward, then you have the basis for Word Derby.
Each word you make earns you points which propels your horse forward in a race to 200 points against your opponent. It’s a great set-up for a word game as there’s a whole new leaderboard rather than just a simple game board. You can play head to head, and better yet you can play a four horse game with three online opponents. The four player game mode offers a unique challenge in that if anyone else plays the same word as you, then neither player scores. In either mode there are four power-ups you can use, which cost tickets where you have 300 to start, and more are available via in-app purchase. The game includes the standard turn based word game features with notifications, chat, and support for up to 20 simultaneous matches.
To add to the competitiveness of each race, you can bet tickets on whether you will win or not. Word Derby is a new approach based on a familiar style, and it provides a fresh turn based word game to play with others. One drawback is that the app relies on Facebook rather than Game Center for friend connectivity, so it’s tougher to connect with those you know have iOS devices. The boosts can also change a game completely, and they’re dependent on the tickets, so other players can buy their wins. The four player matches can also be dragged down by a single dead beat player. The word puzzle style is somewhat repetitive as well, so each race isn’t all that different.