You’re likely a Scrabble fan if you’re reading this post, and if that’s the case, you know how incredibly frustrating the crossword-based board game can be.
Some people take it pretty (way too) seriously too, and allow obsession their with the game to progress into word lists, little-known rules, and even strategies. Not just a word game for some, but a mathematically powered match of wits powered by statistical possibilities.
No matter how you see the game, whether for fun or a little seriously, use these 10 tips to beat everyone and your grandma at the legendary Hasbro game that was first published 77 years ago.
Pass your turn
Use this strategy if you’re for a gamble with a big pay off. Look for multiple ways to play your tiles, adding up scores and comparing them mentally. Not impressed with the outcomes? What’s your opponent’s next move? Are there already open-ended words that you could add a few tiles too and tack on a few points to your total with a high-scoring word?
Or is holding onto your existing tiles until your opponent has taken another turn, potentially opening new opportunities for play on the board, a better option? If this is the case, then maybe you do want to sit out of a turn.
This is a good strategy if you’re waiting for an opportunity to pull in a big score by using the tiles in your rack strategically.
Make a swap
Many players are wary of the swap. It’s a risky move, especially considering you also pass your turn. But, if you’re stuck with a rack full of useless tiles, the benefits are great. The key is knowing when an exchange will benefit you most.
The swap is a great way to accumulate high-point tiles in exchange for low-point tiles, or to break up multiples of the same letter.
If you’re keeping track of the letter that have already been played, surmise which tiles are likely still in the bag and make an informed decision. Swapping tiles is only too big a gamble when you can’t make an educated guess about the ones still available that might be of benefit.
Highest possible score on first turn:
Yes, this is actually a word, and it’s worth a crap load of points – 128 to be exact.
M U Z J I K S
It means Russian peasant. Remember it.
Little words, big scores
Check out the words already in play. See if you can create a new word that will intersect with an existing one. If it’s doable, create new words at multiple points. You’ll score points for the new word and for each two-letter word formed by the conjoining letters.
The two-letter word strategy is also great for plays after an opponent opens a double-or triple-score space. The score gets bigger while you block your “friend” from building there too.
Here’s a few suggestions to beef up your two-letter word vocabulary beyong “go” and “to.”
These are real words, believe it or not: qi,jo, za and qat.
Go first, choose wisely
Once you’ve gotten comfortable with the game, you’ll likely figure out that’s its a good idea to develop a few middle- and end-game strategies to deal a final blow to your opponent’s wordsy wit.
Getting a jump right off the hop also never hurts. The game’s official rules award the first go to the player who draws a tile closest in the alphabet to the letter A. Obviously, winning to first turn is pure luck, but it’s also an incredibly powerful advantage to have, since you’ll control the board right out of the gate.
Or, maneuver a high-scoring tile onto a double-letter space on your own. Even just playing a word vertically can throw off an opponent.
Highest scoring two-letter words:
EX, OX, JO, KA, KI, XI, XU, ZA
Play “hot spots”
Hot spots, or bonus squares, are key to a high-scoring strategy. Use it early and often.
Observe the board before laying a single tile to identify areas that provide hefty bonuses.
Bonus tiles and corresponding colors are: Triple-word score – red; double-word score – pink; triple-letter score – dark blue; and double-letter score – light blue.
Best play to clear a rack of vowels:
O U G U I Y A
Yes, it is also a real word, and it is the currency of Mauritania, a country in western North Africa.