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Buzzword Bingo

Bingo has long been a popular pastime around the world. There are different versions of the game offered in various locations, with 75-ball and 90-ball variants being the most popular. Long known as being the activity of choice for churches and charities that wanted to raise a little money from the community, it has become a big money game in recent decades, with some major casinos offering massive prize pools, and even online gambling sites offering it as an options for customers looking for a more social and casual experience.

But all of these games have one thing in common: in each case, this has always been a completely luck-based game. There was nothing you could do to improve your odds, other than by buying more cards; as nobody had any control over the balls that would be picked, every single card came into the drawing with the same chance of winning.

Online casino software provided Gamevy is looking to change this with their new title, Buzzword Bingo. This offering adds an element of skill while still keeping the basic framework of bingo completely intact, making it an interesting option for players who want to have some control over their odds while still enjoying the process of dabbing their cards and filling up lines on their card.

Finding the Right Words

Buzzword Bingo begins with the player choosing to make a bet, with minimums starting at just £1. Once you’ve chosen your bet, the game will begin – and, interestingly enough, it starts with no bingo in sight.

Instead, you’ll start off in a portion of the game that is all about a basic word puzzle. You’ll be give the first letter of a five-letter word, which you’ll need to figure out in as few guesses as possible. A list of possible answers appears to the right of the screen, which may or may not include the correct answer.

Once you choose a word, you’ll be given some clues in order to find the right solution. Letters appearing in green are exactly right: they are in the word, and already in the correct position. If a letter is shaded blue with an arrow, then you know that the letter appears in the solution somewhere, but not in the location of the word you’ve chosen. If a tile isn’t colored at all, then that letter appears nowhere in the answer.

Each time you select a clue word, a new set of options will show up, usually closing in on the correct solution. The process continues until you choose the correct answer, at which point you will have finished the word game round.

The speed at which you solve each puzzle will determine how many balls you get in the bingo portion of the game. Should you take three or less clues to finish, you’ll get the maximum of ten balls. Every additional clue costs you one, down to a minimum of five balls per round. Should you not solve the puzzle in 10 attempts, you’ll receive no balls, and you will head right into the next word game.

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Buzzword Bingo

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Making a Full House

While the puzzles will earn you more balls to use, it’s the bingo portion of the game where you’ll actually win prize money. The ultimate goal of the game is to complete as many lines as possible on a standard five-by-five, 49-ball card. Even finishing just one line is enough for you to earn at least some prize money, but the cash quickly increases as you finish more and more of the card.

Based on how you did in the word game, you’ll receive a certain number of balls that can be used to fill out your card. Most of these balls are randomly assigned to numbers, just as in a real-world bingo hall. Your first task will be to dab the squares you have that match the numbers that have been drawn for you. As these are randomly chosen from the numbers between 1-49, your results can vary tremendously here: sometimes, nearly all of them will be on your card, while other times, you’ll sadly only get a couple matches, or even strike out entirely.

There are also a couple of special balls that you can potentially receive. First, there is a silver ball that allows you to fill in any space you like on a specified row. Even better is the golden ball, which offers up the chance to dab any single spot anywhere on your card. Each of these balls has a two-thirds chance of being drawn on each round;

Once you’ve finished filling in as much of the card as possible, you’ll head back to the buzzword round. This process continues through a total of four rounds of each game. At the end of the fourth bingo round, the game will end, and you’ll be awarded a prize based on how many lines you’ve completed on the card.

There are 12 lines in total that you might complete: five vertical, five horizontal, and two more diagonal. If you fail to complete any lines, you won’t win a prize at all; in addition, you’ll need to finish up at least five lines just to get your money back. However, the prizes very quickly ramp up from there. The potential winnings are as follows:

  • One Line: 10% of initial stake
  • Two Lines: 25%
  • Three Lines: 50%
  • Four Lines: 75%
  • Five Lines: 1x
  • Six Lines: 2x
  • Seven Lines: 5x
  • Eight Lines: 10x
  • Nine Lines: 20x
  • 10 Lines: 100x
  • Full House: 500x

In order to earn a full house, the entire card must be covered at the end of the game. Note that there is no separate prize for 11 lines, as any blank space will cause at least two lines to be incomplete.

Enormous Skill Impact

One of the things that becomes immediately clear when playing this game is the importance of playing skill and determining the outcome. There are two areas in which skill plays a part: first, in the Buzzword section as you work out the clues, and secondly, when you choose how to use the special bonus balls in the bingo portion.

When it comes to the puzzle portion, it’s important to take you time. Remember that the clues about what letters are not part of the answer are just as key to solving quickly as the affirmative letter signals; all of these clues together will often make it obvious within a couple rounds which answer is correct, allowing you to find a quick solution and almost always getting the maximum of 10 balls. In fact, we suspect that it may always be possible to get this maximum, though we can’t guarantee this as the game rules do not make this clear.

The bingo portion requires less skill, but it’s still worth talking about how you should use your special balls. Obviously, you want to pick results that are most likely to help you complete as many lines as possible. In the early rounds – especially the first round – this means filling spots that can take part in the most number of lines. The center spot is the best, as it is part of four lines; after that come any spaces on the two diagonals, as they each take part in three lines, with all other squares only helping to complete two.

On later rounds, your choices should be more about the current situation on your card. You’ll want to complete lines or give yourself the chance to complete multiple lines with just one more ball (usually in that order of preference). We don’t have a perfectly optimal strategy to share with you, but given the simplicity of the game, it’s usually straightforward to make the best choices – and even if you don’t, your mistakes are likely to be very minimal.

How does all of this skill impact the return to player? The documentation for Buzzword Bingo only talks about returns assuming optimal play in the bingo section, but it is still illuminating. Should you play perfectly in the Buzzword portion, getting the full 10 balls every time, the game has a 95% return to player (or a 5% house edge). That’s in line with many table games, and is certainly better than most slots.

However, things quickly take a turn for the worse if you do not do well in the puzzle rounds. Should you average nine balls per round, your returns will drop to 58%. And if you only manage five balls per game (to be fair, a very difficult feat to pull off if you are trying at all), the RTP drops to an incredibly low 17%.

Two Game Elements Make For One Fun Experience

We’ve played a lot of online games, but there are few that are analogous to Buzzword Bingo. Even Gamevy’s other titles are a bit more straightforward than this: their trivia games mostly stay on one screen, with the questions offering a quick interlude before you head back into the main game. Here, we instead have a melding of two very different types of game, creating a rather unique experience when they are combined.

Thankfully, this odd combination actually works out rather well. Overall, both sides of the game feel rather casual: as we said, there is some skill involved, but nothing here is too taxing, and you’re likely to almost always get things right if you’re trying to put even a tiny bit of effort in. Given how quickly your returns drop off when you make major mistakes, this isn’t a game we’d play while inebriated or distracted, but otherwise, it should be a pretty relaxing way to make a few bets.

One of the best things about this title compared to the other skill-based options from Gamevy is that the maximum return to player is much higher, making this the best of the lot when it comes to people who want to make larger bets or take their gambling rather seriously. And when you consider that this game is a lot of fun to play, we can’t think of many better ways to make low-stakes bets with the potential to pay out big than Buzzword Bingo.

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