Scrabble Strategy and Tips
Everyone wants to be a Scrabble master, and each journey begins with the first few steps. There are many, many avenues to improving your game, but here are a handful anyone can use to become the best word finder out there, even in your very next game. Note that these tips work with Words with Friends as well.
Out of Game Practice
Read whenever you can.
If you have a Scrabble dictionary
flip through it in your spare time. It’s a fast and easy way to constantly expand your vocabulary.
Use online anagram solvers (like BoLS Boardgames) to practice. Pull out sets of common tiles and write down all the words you can find. Then compare your list to the full results found via the Scrabble solver tool, noting easily built words you were unaware of.
Seek out varied players.
Playing against a larger group of people will improve your skills faster as you encounter different strategies and tactics.
2-Letter Words (and 3-Letter ones)
One of the biggest things you can do to improve your game is to memorize the 2-letter words
. There are a little under 150 of these based on your locale, and what Scrabble Dictionary you are using. Memorizing these will improve your defensive play and scoring overnight.
In the hands of an experienced player 2-letter words will both let you avoid passing, as well as racking up some quick extra points here and there. They often can open up unexpected double and triple word plays, that your opponent may not have anticipated.
On defense, the two-letter words can keep you safe from an opponent who may be overly aggressive. With cautious play, you can reliably score, while not opening up high scoring play opportunities for the opposing player.
Once you’ve mastered the 2-letter ones, move onto the 3-letter ones
. They principles listed above are still in effect, but the scoring abilities are a bit higher, while the defensive play abilities are lower as they aren’t as easy to jam into all types of tight spots on the table.
Tile Rack Management
Shuffle, Shuffle, Shuffle.
Constantly move your tiles around your rack. It will let you see things in a new light and open up unseen possibilities. Keeping a static rack is a surefire way to miss opportunities and underperform.
Bingos for Victory.
Using all seven tiles in your rack (a 'Bingo' or 'Bonus' in the United Kingdom) is a highly rewarded achievement in Scrabble with a +50 bonus score for each occurrence. While tricky to achieve, the most common strategy is built around hoarding common multipurpose letters such as A,E,I,N,T and others. A play strategy of using uncommon letters as fast as possible for shorter lower scoring words, while hoarding common and generic (see above) letters for Bingo plays can net you several per game, which can push you into the winner’s circle over non-Bingo based playstyles.
. Try to always think at least one turn ahead. If you have a large word you can use this turn that will leave you with only consonants next turn, consider a more conservative play to preserve your options for example.
Leverage Rare Tiles.
If you’ve looked over the Tile Distribution table
you will see that there are several rare tiles (such as C,F,H,J and others) which are rare. When you get one of these high value tiles, you should always endeavor to maximize its value. Always try to leverage these tiles on letter or word multiplier squares if at all possible, even at the expense of longer non-multiplier scoring words that may be possible.
Master the Q
. Q is a very tricky letter, as it is most often used with the somewhat rare U tile. Be sure to memorize the list of “Q without U” words
list especially the two-letter ‘QI’ to get out of sticky situations, and rid yourself of that Q as fast as you can.
Safeguard your Utility Tiles.
The Blank tiles (which can count as any letter) as well as the S, R, and D tiles (which are used most often to an existing long word plural) are so generically useful, they require special strategy. In general, you should hold onto these tiles, awaiting the opportunity to use then for long high scoring words. The S tile in particular can often be used to build two simultaneous words by being appended onto an existing word.
Defense - Don’t Give Your Opponent Gifts.
Beware of going for the short-term long word plays if they lay out easy double or triple word plays by your opponent. With an experienced player, be especially aware his their ability to use those 2-letter words your already memorized – right? Learning to balance your offensive plays while not opening yourself up for a high scoring counter play will only come with time and practice.