There’s a not-so-little other world out there occupied by word game lovers. You have the most popular word game, Scrabble, that was created in 1933; fast-forward to 86 years later, it’s just as popular, if not more than when it first came out!
Since then, we’ve had tons of games to pick and play; some great, some not so much, but most of them follow the same principle—unscrambling a certain number of letters to come up with words. Obviously, some games will differ; a crossword puzzle isn’t exactly like Scrabble, but they both have similarities. The more words you get, the closer you are to winning or completing a crossword. Many online games are also timed. You don’t have forever and a day to come up with the words you need to advance to another level, so you don’t go down into the dugouts and start again.
How to be a winner
If you’ve ever played word games online, you probably have noticed that some people you’re playing with just always win a round. Some others don’t win, but still have a very impressive score. Are these people from planet Earth? We’re going to safely assume that they are. But how do they get such high scores each time?
Well, for starters, they hone their skills. We all start playing with a certain skill level. Some people will just innately have higher skills than others. Usually, their vocabulary will be vast, and their spelling accurate. You can improve both by doing some extra reading on your part, for instance. That’s not always a sure deal, but people with an extensive vocabulary and good spelling do tend to read more.
That’s a general rule, but there are specific things you can do to improve your word game skills. These little hacks are quick to learn and can quickly increase your score and your level of playing. So, it’s time to hack into these tips and let the games begin!
Bonus letters: Most word games will have certain letters that double or triple your score when used. Those letters can be less commonly used letters in words. For example, Q and Z usually have the most bonus points. But there are other bonus letters to focus on, like C or J. Whatever game you play, read the rules and see which are the bonus letters, so once the game starts, you focus on those letters. Since it’s not always that easy to come up with words with these letters, unscramble.online can be a very helpful tool. You can enter up to 12 letters at a time in this simple word unscrambler, and it can unscramble anagrams much quicker and more effectively than you ever could!
Most common letters: A, E, I, L, N, R, S, and T are the most used letters in the English alphabet. They may be common, but in terms of points of each of those letters, they usually don’t provide much—for Scrabble, it’s just one point. Even if you use a relatively long word with those letters, like “liners” for example, you won’t get a big score. This is the time you want to make the best out of the board, if it’s Scrabble that you’re playing. You know that some of the tile spaces on the board will double and triple the original score. So a word like “liners” is only six points, but it can double or triple when strategically placed. At the very least, you will block your opponents’ efforts to use those parts of the board, by placing your word first, even if it’s just two letters.
Suffixes and prefixes: Word game enthusiasts get very excited, nearly hyper, when they spot “-ing” “-er” or “-ed” in their letters. Look for those suffixes and you’ll be scoring high. You can piggyback on an opponent who placed a root word, by simply adding the suffix, like from “meet” to “meeting,” “turn” to “turned,” or “work” to “worker” and so on. Besides those, there are many other suffixes, such as “-ion,” “-ent” or “-ful.” They might be a bit less, but prefixes help a lot, as well. You also have choices of words that begin with “dis” or “mis” for instance. Suffixes and prefixes are a gold mine!
Clutter words: Some letters just go with other letters, like a three-piece-suit. You know them, but if you’re playing a fast-paced game, you really want to zoom in on them. Clutter letters are like “ch” or “sh,” used often in either the beginning or end of a word. There are also clutter letters used at the end of words like “ish” or “ck.” If you’re a native English speaker, you know them naturally. If not, you can find a lot of online lists of such letters and the words that contain them.
The Benjamins: Word nerds know about the Benjamins, which are letter extensions used at the beginning of what is usually a five-letter word. So, for instance, the word “jumps” could become “outjumps.” It doesn’t always have to be five letters. You could have the word “done” and turn it to “outdone” or “overdone.” It’s similar to using prefixes, the difference is that Benjamins are stand-alone words, such as out, in, or over.
Look for hooks: A hook is a letter that can change a word into an entirely new one: “ear” becomes “hear,” “layer” becomes “player,” and so on. On a Scrabble board, this is a great strategy. Generally, you want to play offensively, but you also want a great defense by cutting opponents’ opportunities, and one letter can do that.
Word games have been around for a long time and don’t seem to be going anywhere soon. They’re fun, challenging, and the perfect way to improve your English, specifically your vocabulary and spelling. Whatever your skill level is, there is always room for improvement. Learning a few hacks is all you need to be one of those people that seem to come from outer space, who only know how to win!