How to Win Every Game of Words With Friends
1. Learn the Board
The best part of Words With Friends is that it skips the worst part of Scrabble: math. One cannot be good at both words and math. That’s just science (it’s not science). In Scrabble, players have to add up all their best chances in their heads. Words With Friends has, or more accurately is, a cheerful robot that does it automatically.
Use the robot. Never just play the first word that jumps out at you. Never play the fifth word that jumps out at you. Those words are liars. When you see a good move, spell it out on the board. Then, spell three different ones in three different places. Do it every time. Even if it turns out the first move was the best, and sometimes it will be, running through possibilities is the best way to learn the board and find all the best moves.
2. Offense Scores Points; Defense Wins Games
There’s a reason this article is called “How to Win Every Game of Words With Friends,” not “Retain Friendships While Playing Words With Friends.” In Words With Friends, or any competitive board game, a move shouldn’t just score you points. It should also deny them to your opponent. Take that triple word score or add that easy S now, even if waiting a turn could net double points. Assume that every opportunity you see, your opponent sees too. Getting it for yourself is great. Taking it from everyone else is better.
3. Opportunity Plays
This is the flip side of the offense/defense rule: one good word wins the game. There are only so many points to be had, and one big play usually means an uncatchable lead. Watch for chances and be ready when they come. Strategies for a big move include:
Link words together. Stick an S or an -ED on the end of an opponent’s word, string your word across a double or triple word score, and you’re suddenly scoring bonus points on two big words at once. Plus, once you do it, they can’t.
Love the little things. Two and three-letter words with a single high-value letter, such as ax, jam, or qi, are perfect ways of turning your opponent’s innocuous vowel into a major point bump for you.
Stack magic letters. Hang onto high-value letters like X and J, but also S, Y and “ER” type combinations. This is especially important later in the game as scores get closer.
4. Play Parallel
Here’s the one weird trick guaranteed to make you better at Words With Friends: go parallel. Don’t cross an opponent’s word. Slide alongside. Match consonants with vowels and vice versa to make new words. When your word touches theirs at two, three or four different places, that’s two, three or four extra words you get points for and they don’t. All you need to make this trick work is a few good two-letter words in your back pocket.
5. Words Are Friends
Right now, just one of my games contains “a West African tree of the soapberry family,” “hoisting something up with a tackle,” and “a small mountain lake, especially one filled up by glaciers.” Did I know what those words meant before I played them? Well, yeah, but words are my living. Did my opponent? Probably. My little sister is crazy smart. Was each one of them worth more than 20 points? You bet your boots.
And that’s the big secret of Words With Friends: tricks help, of course, but nothing beats falling in love with language. That doesn’t mean you have to walk into a Half Price Books and buy it out to win Words With Friends. I’m here to help, not give you homework.
Instead, increase your vocabulary by paying attention to the words in the things you read every day. Books are beautiful, but so are blogs, and even tweets! You don’t have to read to expand your word power either, listening to podcasts, song lyrics and movies is good too. Whatever you’re into. If you want to get better at word games — and, for that matter, better at games and better at words in general — the next time you’re reading or listening, just take a moment to notice how the things you enjoy use language.
So Much Winning
Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a Words With Friends master. If you need a little more help, WordFinder has put together an alphabetic armory for all your word game needs. Got letters but no words? Our cheat tool will turn up to 15 letters of your choice into game-legal words.
Got words but no plays? Check out our curated word lists, where we sort big plays by length, first letter, last letter and more. Then sit back and start to win. Start to win, and you’ll figure out which tricks work best for you. That’s the game.
Matt Salter has been a professional writer for over 10 years. He is a gaming and technology expert, and world-class word nerd.