Beginner’s Guide to Words With Friends
New to Words With Friends? No problem! You’ve come to the right place. Words With Friends is a lot like Scrabble but way better, because you can play with your friends online, meaning you could even play from the comfort of your toilet seat, how’s that for a selling point, baazing!
But before you can play any game you need to know the rules, so let’s get to it.
The first word of every game has to have at least one tile placed on the star square. Each new word formed must share at least one tile of a pre-existing word. Words can be formed horizontally (left to right) and vertically (top to bottom).
Each letter has a set value, so for example D is worth two points, O is one point and G is three points. If you were to spell the word DOG you would earn a total of six points. There are also blank tiles, although they carry no point value they can become any letter you wish, making them very useful for completing words that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.
There are also premium squares spread across the board — DL=Double Letter, TL=Triple Letter, DW=Double Word and TW=Triple Word.
Premium squares are highly sought after, they have the potential to multiply your score greatly. For example if you were to play the word AX, A is worth one point and X is 8 points, you’d only score a total of 9 points. But if the X was placed on the TL square, that would increase the value of X from 8 to 24 points, bringing you to the new total of 25 points.
If you use all 7 tiles in one turn you earn an extra 35 bonus points, this is called a bingo. Scoring bingos can adversely affect your opponent causing them to yell multiple CW=Cuss Words (not a premium square).
The game ends once a player has used up all their tiles, whatever tiles a player still possesses when the game ends will count against them and be awarded to the opposing player. For example, if your opponent beat you to the punch and played their last tiles before you could play your remaining tiles C, A and T — C being worth four points, A one point and T one point — you would subtract six points from your total score and add six points to your opponent’s score.
The game can also end if three turns have passed with no points scored.
Now that we have the basic rules out of the way, let’s dive into some basic strategies and tactics.
There are many ways to play Words With Friends from a strategy stand point. Some players prefer a more aggressive approach, forming long words on each turn, to get rid of tiles as fast as possible. Keep in mind that 90 tiles are shared between both players, so the more tiles you use, the less there are for the opponent. Although it can be risky at times, branching out with long words gives your opponent ample opportunities to place tiles on premium squares.
The second approach I’d like to talk about is a more conservative style of play. It’s more defensive I’d say. With this approach you’ll form both short and long words, which of the two you’ll form on a given turn depends on a few factors, the biggest one being premium square proximity.
If you can form a long word to reach a premium square then go for it, otherwise, focus on forming short words. Make sure any word you form doesn’t extend so far that it allows your opponent to branch off your word to reach a premium square. Keep forming short words (especially parallel words, more on this later) until your opponent is forced to branch out putting you within striking distance of a premium square.
Obviously not all premium squares are of equal value, so you’ll have to use your best judgement on whether you want to avoid branching out to a certain premium square or if you’re willing to take the risk.
Use Consonants to Minimize Risk – There are ways to minimize risk when forming long words. You’ll want to avoid placing vowels next to premium squares such as DL and TL. Placing vowels next to premium squares creates an easy setup for the opponent, since power tiles such as X naturally come before or after a vowel in many words. So just remember if possible form words with consonants next to the premium squares to minimize risk.
Rack Management – Keeping a good balance of vowels and consonants on your rack is important. Having all vowels or consonants can make it difficult to form long words. If you do find yourself with too many of either kind, try using your opponent’s tiles to your advantage. Say for example you have all consonants, just look around the board for any vowels you can place two or more consonants next to. Or you could use the swap option to get rid of some consonants, this option forfeits your turn, use this option sparingly.
Be a Hooker – Hooking is when you add letters to the beginning or end of a word to form a new word. Hooks can be very potent, a well placed hook can really boost your score. Check out the screenshot below for example. I used the S to hook onto the word SINE to form the new word SINES, so far I’m at 6 points, then the new word I formed horizontally SLOGS is worth 36 points, since the L (2 points) was on the TL square and the S landed on the TW square, bringing me to the total of 42 points. In that example the word I hooked onto didn’t give that many extra points, but if you do see your opponent form a word containing lots of power tiles — such as K, J, Q, Z, and X — that would be the ideal time to become a hooker.
Counting Cards errr… Tiles – Now it may seem a bit extreme to keep track of what tiles have been played, but it’s actually very useful, I’ll give an example to illustrate why. If you were trying to reach the premium square TW by first spelling the word DOG vertically and then spelling the word SEA horizontally, where the S connects with DOG to form DOGS. In order for this tactic to work, you need to be sure that the opponent has no blank or S tiles to connect with the word DOG, making it impossible for them to use the TW tile against you. Letter distribution can be found at the end of the guide.
Bingo Stems – As the author of this guide, you may think I score bingos quite frequently, I assure you I do not. That actually makes me unqualified to write this next tip. But if you’re a big believer in the blind leading the blind, please by all means continue reading.
Bingo Stems are a group of six letters that give you the highest probability of forming a seven letter word. Try memorizing these bingo stems to improve your odds of scoring a bingo — TISANE, SATIRE and RETINA.
Parallel Words – I recommend memorizing as many two and three letter words as possible (word list at end of guide), this will allow you to form multiple words in a single turn. In the screenshot below we see the player form three words by placing them parallel to each other — PEE, PE and EL.
At the end of the day playing Words With Friends should be a fun experience, so don’t take the game too seriously. If you’re new, you’ll lose a lot, but don’t let it get to you, just hit the re-match button, form a word, then type in the chat box BRING IT! That’s usually how most of my games go, especially with my arch-rival Jenn K. Lee of Pocketables.net *Shakes Fist*. I hope you found this guide to be helpful, thank you for reading, and if you have any questions feel free to leave a comment.
Words With Friends uses the Enhanced North American Benchmark Lexicon (ENABLE) word list, containing over 173,000 words, Newtoy has made a few additions to the word list such as ZEN and QI, more will be added in the future.
To download a text file containing all the words, click here.
There are 104 tiles in Words With Friends, below is the distribution of letters.
Letter Point Values
Regardless of what Thomas Jefferson may have said, not all letters are created equal.
3 Letter Words
I want to give a quick shout out to my Caps Lock and Tab keys, if it wasn’t for them this table wouldn’t be possible. And thanks to Newtoy for compiling the list!
2 Letter Words
Get The Latest Updates
So you’ve read my 4th grade writing and managed to reach the end without hitting the Back button on the browser, what now?
I know! You should drop by the Words With Friends Facebook page and become a fan, that way you’ll get all the latest updates about your favorite word game. And you’ll meet thousands of other people that are just as excited as you are about Words With Friends.
Don’t have a Facebook account? That’s ok too, Newtoy has you covered, they also have a Twitter page you can follow to get the latest updates on Words With Friends.
- Words With Friends
- Words With Friends HD
- Chess With Friends
- Play ‘Chess With Friends’ available now in the App Store