Sunday, January 13, 2013

Top ten strategies for Words with Friends

I am unable to stop playing Words with Friends, the Scrabble look-alike for online opponents. I played Scrabble as a kid and had to defend my words constantly, a key difference between the two versions of this crossword puzzle inspired game.

In Words with Friends, you are warned that a word is unacceptable and then are given the opportunity to keep trying. In Scrabble, a successful challenge results in a loss of turn. I'm often asking my wife the definition of a word that she has played, knowing that neither one of us has a clue. I've gone to the trouble of looking up the definitions of XI, AA, SH, QAT, QAID, KA, ZA and KORE, but have forgotten them. Knowing that they're acceptable words is all that matters.

To promote better play, I've compiled a list of ten game strategies and encourage others to add to my list or take exception to them.

1) Never play an opening word with fewer than five letters, the minimum necessary to cover the double word spot. If that's not possible, play a two-letter, two-point word. There is no point in playing a two or more point letter without covering the double word square.

2) Never play a word that ends one square short of a double or triple word multiplier unless the word cannot be appended. Playing ZOO with a double or triple word square immediately following it invites your opponent to slap on an S and head off in a different direction to enhance the score. For example, playing SKY with the S on a triple word square at the end of ZOO would generate a score of at least 66.

3) Points that you prevent are worth the same as points you score. Take the above strategy as an example. If you played a lesser scoring word than ZOO, say DO, you'd be much better off.

4) Playing the first word to the left or above the center star creates a more open board, which is good for higher scoring games. Playing to the right or below the center star closes the board, making for a lower scoring, but potentially more challenging, game.

5) Save an S when using it would only add 1, 2 or 3 points to your score. They are more valuable, especially later in the game, to pluralize existing words for big points. The same goes for blank tiles. They can be enormously helpful later in the game and don't count against you if your opponent plays out before you do.

6) Playing all the letters in your tray gives you a bonus of 35 points. If you have a tray that spells out a seven-letter word, but have no place to play it, don't wait too long waiting for an opportunity. Passing your turn once is okay, just don't keep doing it hoping for a miracle.

7) Another key difference between Scrabble and Words with Friends is WWF has four pairs of double word multipliers sitting just five squares apart. Rack your brain for ways to capitalize on this powerful point generator. The word ZYGOTE covering two double word squares is a very satisfying and, at the same time, demoralizing play.

8) Start dumping your high point letters when the pool of undrawn letters shrinks to fewer than ten. As much as you want to play your J, Z and X on big multiplier squares, if your opponent plays out first, remaining letters in your tray both reduce your score and add to your opponent's score.

9) Letter swapping can be helpful to remedying a tray such as AAAOOOU. I rarely do it because you lose a turn when swapping letters, but there is no worse tray than one without any consonants.

10) C's and V's can be very tactical letters for blocking your opponent's access to double and triple word squares. Neither can be combined with any other letter to form a two-letter word.

1 comment:

  1. By the way, there's an "Easter egg" in the puzzle I used as a graphic for this blog piece that I think is a great name for a weight loss cracker.


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