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Some board games are impossible to win without luck, other board games use purely strategy, and then there are board games like Scrabble, which requires a healthy dose of both, as well as a large vocabulary.
What Is Scrabble?
Scrabble is a word game for two to four players played on a game board divided into a 15×15 grid of squares. Players place tiles, each with a single letter printed on it, onto the game board, trying to form words in crossword fashion. Different letters have different point values, and the goal is to form words with the highest possible combined point value.
Certain squares on the game board multiply the number of points awarded, so players are encouraged to strategically position their words and plan ahead. However, a good strategy alone isn’t enough to win a game of Scrabble because all tiles are placed inside an opaque tile bag, so players also need luck to draw the most useful tiles.
Not many people today know that Scrabble comes from an earlier word game, called Lexiko, which was invented by Alfred Butts in 1931. The two word games share the same set of letter tiles. The set was put together by Butts based on a frequency analysis of letters from The New York Times and various other sources.
Unlike Lexiko and its later adaptation Criss-Crosswords, Scrabble has simpler rules that make it more approachable. Sure enough, the game, whose name means to scratch frantically, quickly became a huge hit, and it was even turned into a daytime game show on NBC.
How to Play Scrabble?
Your goal in Scrabble is to earn as many points as possible by constructing words using letter tiles and strategically placing them on the game board. Letters in Scrabble have different point values, and it’s useful to memorize them so you can avoid low-value words:
- 1 point: A, E, I, O, U, L, N, S, T, R.
- 2 points: D, G.
- 3 points: B, C, M, P.
- 4 points: F, H, V, W, Y.
- 5 points: K.
- 8 points: J, X.
- 10 points: Q, Z.
At the start of the game, each player removes one tile out of the tile bag. The player that draws the letter closest to the letter “A” goes first. Each player also draws seven tiles from the tile bag, which are used during the game.
The player that goes first begins the game by placing a word on the star square at the center of the game board using the tiles the player has drawn at the start of the game. The star doubles the total point value of the word placed on it.
The word can be placed both horizontally or vertically, and the same is true for all subsequent words, which must stem from the original word or other words that already stem from it. Continue playing in a clockwise direction, replacing Scrabble tiles as they are placed on the board so that all players always have seven tiles during the game.
When all tiles are placed on the game board, the only thing left to do is determine which player has accumulated the most points. Online Scrabble games do this automatically, so you can focus on the game itself.
3 Tips to Help You Win Every Scrabble Game
To win a game of Scrabble, you need to have at least a little bit of luck, but having a solid strategy can go a long way in compensating for its absence. Here are three essential Scrabble tips you should remember:
- Don’t forget about suffixes: You know, the things that are placed at the beginning and end of words to change their meaning or function. Examples of suffixes include -ation, -fy, -ing, -itis, un-, in-, re-, and so on. For example, before you place the word “man” on the game board, you should always check if you can’t form “manly” instead to earn a few extra points for nothing.
- Memorize two- and three-letter words: There are many obscure two- and three-letter words that are rarely used in normal conversation but come in handy during a game of Scrabble. Unlike their longer siblings, they don’t take much effort to memorize, so don’t hesitate to open your dictionary and memorize at least a dozen of them.
- Focus on bonus squares: In Scrabble, bonus squares can be real game-changers, allowing you to instantly multiply the value of your words. Instead of placing words randomly, do what you can to strategically approach bonus squares and take advantage of the opportunity they present as soon as you have all the tiles you need to form a particularly high-value word. Your opponents will probably hate you, but you’ll love how it feels to jump to the first place with a single word.
Best Sites to Play Scrabble Online for Free
If you love Scrabble but hate all the counting, sorting, and other work around it, you should play it online!
1. Internet Scrabble Club
Internet Scrabble Club, also known as ISC, is the ultimate place to play Scrabble online. This popular site is available in multiple languages, works great on mobile devices, and has the most active players. It’s also the only place to play if you agree that certain four-letter words are actually words and should be allowed in tournament play, as long as no children are involved. The only thing we don’t like about Internet Scrabble Club is the site’s design, which is rather boring and amateurish.
2. Lexulous Crossword Game
Lexulous is a fun Scrabble-inspired word game for all ages that you can play against an AI opponent or real players. To start playing, you don’t need to create a user account—simply click the Quick Play button and instantly play against Lex Robot. Lexulous has a built-in dictionary that allows you to easily check if a word is playable within the game or not. All point counting is done automatically for you, and you can shuffle your tiles to spot new words, review past moves, and more.
3. Poki Scrabble Games
Poki is home to countless word games inspired by Scrabble, including Scrabble Sprint, Words Search Classic, and Word Grid. Most Poki games are available in multiple languages, but they all require Adobe Flash to work. If your web browser no longer supports Flash, you can download Firefox and enable it manually. In addition to word games, Poki also has board games, hangman games, math games, typing games, multiplication games, and card games, so there’s always something to do on the site.
4. Funky Potato Scrabble
Funky Potato Scrabble is an HTML5 version of the Scrabble you’ve grown up playing. You can play against an AI opponent with 5 levels of difficulty. The first level isn’t particularly challenging if you have at least someone decent vocabulary, but crack up the difficulty a few levels higher, and you will have a hard time winning a single game even with a dictionary in your hand. The game is controlled exclusively with the mouse, making it suitable even for tablets and smartphones. Unfortunately, there’s no way how to make it fullscreen.
5. Scrabble Games
As its name suggests, Scrabble Games features a large collection of Scrabble-inspired games. In Word Search, your goal is to search for words from a large table full of random letters. In Scramble Words, you crate real words from random letters and reveal all possible letter combinations. You should also check out Scrabble Blast, where you blast your letters by forming words that can bring you points. All games on Scrabble Games are free and created using HTML5. You can always select from multiple levels of difficulty to minimize frustration and maximize your enjoyment.
6. Word Games
Word Games has one of the largest collections of word games on the internet, featuring such popular games as Wordy Night, Spell Bound, Free words, Words Family, Text Twist, 1 Word 10 Tries, Word Detector, 7 Words, Word Candy, Words with Owl, Candygram, Word Hive, Neon Words, and many others. To play these games, you need to activate Flash in your web browser, which is, unfortunately, somewhat difficult to do on mobile devices. Android users can download Dolphin or Puffin web browser from Play Store, while iOS users have Photon, which is a paid web browser with native support for Flash.
7. Scrabble Word Finder
Scrabble Word Finder isn’t like the sites featured above because it’s actually an easy-to-use Scrabble solver that let’s you enter up to 12 letters and outputs all possible word combinations based on them. It supports multiple dictionaries, including the official Scrabble dictionary, offers advanced search options such as wildcards, provides fast lookup even on mobile devices, and more. If you’re an avid Scrabble player, we highly recommend you bookmark Scrabble Word Finder because you’ll definitely need it at some point in your Scrabble career.