Sometimes I think I need a 12-Step program, because I can get so wrapped in my games that I neglect other things. Like taking a shower and getting dressed.
But then, as addictions go, this is a fairly healthy one to have. After all, is it not a workout for the brain? That’s what I tell myself.
If only my other body parts were as well exercised. But that’s another story for another day.
I am not alone in my affinity for Words With Friends. According to an article in The Atlantic, Words with Friends is one of the most popular apps used by my midlife/boomer generation.
When I was a young girl I watched my mother do The New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle and eventually it became part of my Sunday morning routine as well. I love the challenge of word games. When Words With Friends became available as an app, I jumped on it — and it became an obsession.
I don’t profess to be an expert, but over time I have developed certain strategies that have been effective for me. If you are an advanced player these will seem a matter of course, but perhaps you will help me add on to this list.
Save your S tiles, and to a somewhat lesser extent, your R and D tiles.
They will come in handy with making a word plural or past tense
Look for possible suffixes: -ING, -ED, -IER, or prefixes: RE-. IN-,e.g.
These are valuable tools for enhancing an existing word.
Scrutinize the board for other opportunities.
For example, add A to moral to create amoral, or add A to toll to create atoll. Add Y to the end of miser for misery.
If you are the one to open the game, get rid of low-points letters.
That said, if you can make a double word on the opening move, do so only if the point score is worth it. I wouldn’t do it for less than 20 points.
Never use your best tiles on an opening move.
The point score just won’t justify it. Save them for a bonus square.
Down to one consonant and six vowels? Time to swap.
If you must swap for other reasons, always keep at least one vowel and one consonant in your possession.
Get rid of Is, Us and Vs.
They’re hardest to place.
Minimize your opponent’s opportunities to take advantage of a triple word score. Assume that your opponent will have the final letter — an S or Y, e.g. — when you are considering a move that will open up the triple word opportunity.
Check the status of the high points letters.
When my game has about 20 letters left to play, I do a quick inventory of the high scoring letters – X, J, Q and Z. Have they been played? If not, I want to make sure I am not leaving a high scoring opportunity open in case my opponent has one of them.
And if you have one of them, don’t get stuck.
If you have an X., J, Q or Z, use it or get rid of it if you are down to 10 letters. Too many games are lost because you are left hanging with one of these.
Learn the language: Words With Friends-ese.
A good vocabulary is your best friend, but also be aware of the two- and three-letter words common in Words With Friends: QI, ZA, SUQ, QUA, RAJ, HAJ.
Are there other strategies that work well for you?