Are They Cheating or Just Smart Play?
One of the benefits of Words With Friends over analog Scrabble is that blatant cheating is no longer an option. The game checks that nonsense and only allows dictionary-defined words on the board. That's a plus on several levels.
First, it disposes of any attempt to pass off gibberish as legit language. Second, as players all over the globe have learned, you can now physically lay out all your possible plays until you find the best. You don't even need to know what it means; you can look it up while you're counting your points. That's not cheating. That's just smart play.
In Words With Friends, cheating generally means using our convenient, stylishly designed WordFinder tool. For real, we know we're offering a cheat tool. That's why we're smart people to ask about cheating; we obviously know the topic.
Surefire Signs of Someone Cheating
To determine if your opponent is cheating, employ the following three-factor test:
Is Every Word Optimized?
Do you never get a shot at a bonus square? Does your opponent seem to spot where you're going next and fill it? Even the best players don't get mathematically maximum results every time.
Do They Consistently Dominate?
Do your opponents always remain well ahead throughout the game? Have they kept that lead despite never having a massive, 50-plus point play? The high-scoring Words With Friends, even more than Scrabble and its other cousins, is a game of luck as well as skill. That means swings: sometimes you get a good draw, sometimes your opponent does. One big play can be luck and/or skill.
Ten turns of monotonous victory suggest skulduggery.
Are Many Plays Completely Obscure Words?
Do you have to look up half your opponent's plays, not because you plan to challenge - WWF has no challenge mechanic, just the friendly robot - but because you have no idea what those words mean? Are there many strange short words in particular, like AA, KA, and PO?
Spotting a Cheater in Words With Friends
There's a drawback to WWF having a digital referee verifying all the words. When you can't cheat obviously anymore, cheating by definition becomes less obvious.
In Scrabble, cheating looks like fake words and bad excuses. In Words With Friends, it's the opposite. Any one of the above can just mean a skilled opponent. Even twofers are possible. But when you check all three boxes, seriously consider the possibility you're being messed with. When it feels like you're playing against a robot programmed only to dominate word games, guess what? You are.
What Can I Do?
In terms of the current game, there isn't much to do. Your options are basically "lose" or "cheat back." Obviously we prefer the latter option, but if you want to bounce from a game with a cheater, do so with our blessing. Nobody likes losing, especially to a cheater.
Happily, Words With Friends knows that. Tap the little gear icon in the app for "Settings," then scroll to "Manage Block List." All you need is your nefarious foe's username to consign them to the Outer Darkness. It's a robust function, too: you can un-consign anytime you want, because the app keeps a list of your blocks. No shade. We've all had game-rage moments of "you're cheating!" that, with application of time and decrease of adrenaline, became "actually that was probably fine."
Of course, as we have repeatedly noted, an alternative exists. You can cheat back. Many WWF players use services like ours, and it's only reasonable to keep up with the digital Joneses. Either option is valid. The only bad call is continuing to play a game you're not enjoying and that isn't challenging you.
The Relativity of Cheating
Words With Friends is built on the fact that going digital changes how word games are played. Fundamentally, WWF is no longer the test of individual memory that paper-and-cardboard Scrabble was. It calls on players to put less emphasis on memorizing and solving anagrams and more on strategizing their best plays. Depending on your point of view, outsourcing your word choice to a machine is either a smart move or dirty pool.
We're not here to judge. We've provided both a tool to cheat with and ways to tell if someone's using it. Avail yourself of as much, or as little, as suits your gaming experience. For other ways to deal with word game skulduggery, check out our advice on how to challenge a word in Scrabble.
Matt Salter has been a professional writer for over 10 years. He is a gaming and technology expert, and world-class word nerd.