How to win at “Words With Friends”

27 Feb

When I got my smart phone a few months ago, one of the first apps I downloaded was Words With Friends, a great game that has all of the fun of Scrabble without the watching paint dry boredom that comes from waiting for your opponent to play.  I was hooked after my first game, and now Words is a big part of my online day.  I’m playing against high school classmates, college buddies, and people on both coasts.

One of the reasons I like Words With Friends so much is because I’m good at it.  I am not a boastful person by nature, so let’s just say that I do alright in my games.  Words doesn’t have a stats feature (which the nerd in me would really love) but I would modestly guess that I win over 80% of my games.  And trust me – it is definitely NOT because I’m playing against a bunch of idiots.  While a big chunk of WWF success comes down to luck – having the right letter(s) at the right time – the majority of wins and losses comes down to the skill of the player.

Here are my 10 ways to win at Words With Friends:

1.  Learn the list of accepted two-letter words.  Sure, it would be great to know a bunch of obscure words that use all seven tiles, but actual chances to play them do not appear very often.  However, there is always a place to play a two letter word – sometimes resulting in big points.  Do I know what QI, WO, AA, OE and other accepted two-letter words mean?  Heck no.  But I do know that they are a great way to score more points, use up letters at the end of a game, and get rid of J, Q, X, and Z…

2.  Know different ways to play J, Q, X, and Z.  When I first started playing Scrabble, I hated getting J, Q, X, and Z and fixated on getting rid of them as soon as humanly possible.  Now, I love getting those letters – and will often sit on them waiting for just the right moment.  Again, this is where knowledge of the two-letter words comes into play as JO, QI, AX/EX/XI/OX/XU, and ZA are lifesavers – and potentially game changers if…

3.  Use high point letters on double and triple point spaces.  This should be obvious by now, but let’s be clear:  you want to win.  To win, you must outscore your opponent.  To do so, you must score take advantage of the double and triple point squares on the board.  When it is my turn, I first scan the board for places to play where I can potentially get a bunch of points looking at (in order):  Triple Word (TW), Triple Letter (TL), Double Word (DW), and Double Letter (DL).  Then I’ll look at my letters and see what fits.

4.  Try to create (at least) two words per turn.  This is a key strategy.  By itself, the word DEAD isn’t going to get you a lot of points, but when you are able to position it so that it creates ZONED and EQUATED, that is a much different story.  Some of my friends are masters of what I call “parallel words”, where they play a word parallel to another word, creating a bunch of two (or three) letter words.  For example:  APART is on the board.  They play IDEA with the I directly below the P.  That one word (IDEA) is actually five (PI, AD, RE, TA, and IDEA).  Assuming at least one of those letters is a double or triple, and you’re going to rack up the points.  Clearly, the easiest way to create two words is by using an S to make a word plural…

5.  Never play an S for less than 10 points.  Nothing makes me cringe more than seeing somebody waste a perfectly good S on a word that only gets 11 points.  The letter S (as well as the blank tiles) are rare and valuable.  If playing that S doesn’t earn you (at least) an additional 10 points, save it for later.

6.  Don’t settle for single digit scores.  With the exception of the first word and the last few rounds after the letters run out, you should be able to score more than 10 points per round at least 95% of the time – even with really bad letters.  If you’re stuck with all vowels, find a X, Z, or Q and see if you can get a quick 11 points.  (Along the same lines – don’t ever waste a turn swapping tiles.  Aside from the chance that you will redraw the same garbage later on, you also forfeit an opportunity to score.)

7.  Sometimes, playing one or two letters is better than playing five or six.  My wife sometimes gets frustrated when we play traditional Scrabble.  She will play several five or six letter words demonstrating her brains and vocabulary.  Meanwhile, I’ll play a few two or three letter words and win by a comfortable margin.  The same thing applies in Words With Friends.  I’ve scored 62 points off of one letter (a very well placed Q) and have scored 11 off of a six letter word.  The object is to score the most points – not play the most letters.  Points are more important than showing off your expansive vocabulary of six letter words.

8.  There is no penalty for trying.  I will freely admit to tapping Submit on something is more of a blind guess than an actual word I could define or use in a sentence.  As a matter of fact, I do it fairly often.  I’d wager your opponent does it, and you should too.  There are more than 173,000 words on the list of accepted Words, and what clears that list can be surprising.  I was not shocked that my first name (Dave) is not allowed , but I did not expect a certain four letter profanity beginning with “S” to go through.  Every so often, you’ll stumble on something that works.

9.  Sometimes the best offense is a good defense.  While you would like to score big points on each and every turn, it is equally important to avoid leaving your opponent with easy chances at bigger points on their turn.  What do I mean?  Let’s say you have a good word to play, but it would set your opponent for a very easy triple word opportunity.  Is it worth it?  It might be best to wait and let your opponent set you up for that triple word.  The toughest (and most frustrating) games I play are the ones where every word I play sets my opponent up for an even better play.

10.  Learn from your whoopings.  Make no mistake from this post:  I lose.  Often*.  And I have some friends who do not just beat me by a few measly points – they take me behind the wood shed and whip me three ways from Sunday.  We’re talking 50 point blowouts.  (You know who you are, Mark Eltiste).  Those loses frustrate and infuriate me, but I learn from every one of them.  In fact, a good portion of these tips come from getting my as…er…hat handed to me.

*And with these tips (and much deserved dose of karmic payback for boasting) I expect to lose a whole lot more in the coming weeks.


15 Responses to “How to win at “Words With Friends””

  1. Jeff March 30, 2012 at 9:02 am #

    and how is Scramble With Friends going for you?

    • Feit Can Write March 30, 2012 at 9:07 am #

      Poorly. I’ve played twice and have been completed dominated both times.

  2. when do the clocks change April 18, 2013 at 2:06 pm #

    This page truly has all of the information and facts I needed about this subject
    and didn’t know who to ask.

    • Feit Can Write April 18, 2013 at 4:24 pm #

      Awesome! I’m glad it helped. Just promise me you’ll use your powers for good, not evil.

  3. Theron May 15, 2013 at 6:43 pm #

    W rzeczy samej Theron cóż. Szparkie kubki, budynie, Theron
    bryłki rosołowe, kaszki itp owo również chemia. A wyzyskujemy ciacha tudzież owe niejednokrotnie.
    Składy słodyczy także nie istnieją imponujące.
    Jak mówią lody owe sama chemia, tudzież ja odkrawa lubię tudzież Theron jadam.
    Rozumuję, iż drugie tygodnie takiej diety mi nie zaszkodziły Theron, a
    pomogły nieco bezboleśnie wprowadzić w innowacyjny procedura odżywiania.

  4. sex filmiki July 13, 2013 at 9:14 pm #

    Eksperyment krzyżowa?
    – Sporządzona. A sex filmiki kwestii?
    – Nie zdołamy czekać.
    – Albowiem pan nie inaczej mówi. – Pingwin Lindeman powiedziała owe darmowy sex niezwykle wyraźnie oraz Saracen zrozumiał, iż
    zaprasza go aż do publicznego powiedzenia swojej
    – Ajuści mówię – ogłosił z skoro tylko zauważalnym uśmiechem.

    Ustawił transfuzję tudzież był w toku mycia rąk, jak podeszła Chenhui.

    – Ego zdziwiona – powiedziała.

  5. sex oferty July 15, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    – Doktorze Saracen, sex oferty azali zostanie dobry pasterz dzisiaj
    na nocnej reformie? – aż do gabinetu nadeszła siostra Turner.

    Saracen ogłosił, że ogłoszenia erotyczne służba obejmie konował Garten tudzież z
    bezpieczną satysfakcją spostrzegł na płci pielęgniarki oznaka zawodu.

    Wydawało mu się, iż siostra powstrzymała się od momentu komentarza.

    – Medyk Tang wykryła wystawić niejaki akt śmierci.
    Co owe była zbytnio sprawa?
    – Pustka szczególnego. Do widzenia.

  6. buy womens watches online September 23, 2014 at 3:47 pm #

    Hi there terrific blog! Does running a blog similar too his take a lot of work?
    I’ve very little expertise in programming bbut I was hoping to staret
    my own blog soon. Anyways, should you have any suggeestions or tips for new blog owners please share.
    I understand this is off topic nevertheless I just needed to ask.

  7. September 24, 2014 at 11:11 pm #

    Hi, i believe that i noticed you visited my website
    so i came to return the favor?.I’m attempting to to find things to improve my site!I assume its
    ok to use a few of your ideas!!

  8. halter neck black dress September 25, 2014 at 8:07 pm #

    Hey there this is somewhat of off topic but I was wantibg to know if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with HTML.
    I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding knowledge so I wanted to get advice from someone with experience.

    Any help would bbe greatly appreciated!


  1. Rejected Olympic Events « Feit Can Write - July 30, 2012

    […] Words With Friends […]

  2. Redundancy With Friends « Feit Can Write - August 13, 2012

    […] Recently, I saw one of the stupidest product announcements I’ve ever seen:  A new board game based on Words With Friends. […]

  3. More Facebook Pet Peeves | Feit Can Write - May 20, 2013

    […] I don’t give a crap that you just passed Level 71 on Candy Crush Saga or scored 30 points on Words With Friends – and I play both of those games.  Here is a tip*:  when you authorize Facebook to use an app, […]

  4. Letter V, Letter V. Whisper Words of Wisdom, Letter V (V) | Feit Can Write - April 30, 2014

    […] I know multiple ways to play a Q without an U, I can dominate triple words, and I treat S and blanks like the winning lottery tickets they are.  Heck, it’s like I wrote the definitive guide* on How To Win at Words With Friends. […]

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: