I thought this would be a good time to share what I know, since these games are fun to play by the fire with family and friends.
As you may be aware, these word games have no requirement to know what the words actually mean. Strategy is more important than a big SAT vocabulary.
It's important at least to know the high-scoring 2-letter words, such as jo, ka, ki, qi, ax, ex, ox xi, xu, za. Also get familiar with u-less q words like qat and suq.
Words With Friends allows 104 2-letter words (or 105, depending on whom you ask).
It is also useful to learn three-letter words, especially high-scoring ones like, JUS KOA KOI QAT QUA WAB WAT WAX WIZ WOK XIS YOK ZAG ZAS ZAX ZED ZEE ZEK ZOA
What do these 2-letter words have in common?:
AH, AL, AS, BA, BO, BY, IN, IS, IT, LA, MA, MI, MU, NA, NE (see answer at end)*
Thanks to Harry Barnett for this and his Words With Friends Website.
More basics: Try to make more than one word during a turn.
If I make the word "bake" and you have the word "drive," you can get credit for both baked and drive by adding the d to bake to begin your word.
Or, you may be able to score higher, depending on whether you can get your letters on, say, double word and/ or triple-letter score, by beginning the word drive under the e of bake making the word ed.
Sometimes you can make 4 or more words by lining up your word against your opponent's word. This is and example of why it's useful to know your 2-letter words
Some differences between Scrabble and Words With Friends
- The dictionary of allowable words is different.
- Premium squares are laid out differently.
- Letter distribution is different: Words With Friends has 44 vowels and 58 consonants.
- Words With Friends has 5 s's, Scrabble has 4.
- Scrabble has 100 tiles; the letter distribution is printed on the board.
- In Scrabble if you challenge a word whoever is wrong loses a turn.
- In Words With Friends, you can keep trying letter combos and a box will appear if it's not a word. Use this to your advantage.
The idea of a 7-letter word or "bingo" is to use all your letters and gain 50 extra points in Scrabble, 35 in Words With Friends. So you may want to look up lists of Scrabble words that are 7, 8 or even 9 letters long.
In Scrabble, the optimal rack for using all your tiles would contain the letters r-e-t-i-n-a-s. These letters match up with many other letters to make 8-letter words as well as the 7-letter words contained here, such as retinas and retains.
The letter s and blanks
Don't waste your s's. S is a great letter for making 7-letter words, or for helping you lengthen a word and/or to extend your word to, say, a triple-word square.
If you have more than one s, it's less crucial to save it. But don't just throw it away for an extra point or two.
A balance of consonants and vowels is generally ideal.
When I have bad letters and can't get a good score, I try to make a word that gets rid of annoying letters. I don't like c's and v's because you can't make 2-letter words with them, so they are less flexible. U's are annoying, unless I have a q. U is also good with n for the prefix un.
Look on your rack for other prefixes as well as suffixes like ed, er, ing, tion.
In addition, learn some vowel dumps
Exchanging letters and duplicates
In Words With Friends, perhaps because of the different letter distribution, when I trade in letters in an effort to get the magic 7, I seem to end up with a preponderance of vowels.
If you are stuck with all vowels or all consonants, it may be better to exchange at least some of them.
Whenever I have duplicate vowels, I try to play one of them or include it in an exchange.
Placement and defense
Words With Friends has 2 rows and 2 columns that have two double word squares that would yield 4 times your score for a 5-letter word that extends to both of the double word squares.
As you watch for opportunities to use the 2 double word squares, it's important to be defensive and block your opponent from doing the same.
Another thing to look out for is opening up an opportunity for your opponent to quadruple the score of, say, an x or other high-value letter. If the x has not been played, don't put an e, for example, next to a double letter square, whereby your opponent can put an x on it and also make another word in the other direction.
If such an opening already exists, but you can't use it, do your best to block your opponent from using it.
It the triple word square opens up, use it, even for a lower-scoring word, to prevent your opponent from using it.
If you can't block it, consider opening another triple word square if you can. That way, if your opponent uses one, you will hopefully be able to use the other.
After one person goes out, the value of his/her opponent's remaining letters is doubled and added to the score. So, as you near the end, it's a good idea to use your high-point letters, if the game is close.
The more you play, the better you'll get. Consider:
What strategies have I left out? Please share them in the comments!
See related articles:
- My Mom's Party Games
- 21 Ways to Remember Practically Everything
- Bruschetta: Enticing Finger Food to Serve for Scrabble Night
- Links to my other posts and to my blog Confessions of a Worrywart, where I confess how I obsess about Words With Friends.
*Answer: Adding an a before each of these words yields a three-letter word.