What's a Good Scrabble Score?

Two women playing Scrabble
"What's a good Scrabble score?" is the sort of question that seems simple until you actually start thinking about it. It's tempting to simply pick a number, but any one point value is spoiled by an inconvenient fact: what if your opponent has 1 more point?

How Scrabble Scores Work

In short, while there are a few reliable indicators, "good Scrabble score" is a more complex concept than it sounds, and can't be answered with a simple number. That's good news! Well, it's certainly good news for us - if there were some magic number that worked for every player and every game, it wouldn't be worth discussing.

It's good news for you too. Instead of giving you a number and no way to achieve it, we're going to give you a breakdown of how Scrabble scoring works, and how to tune its various variables for maximum advantage.

Scoring Rules of Thumb

We may not be able to give you one number, but we can start you off with two: 600 to 700 points.

A well-contested game of Scrabble should end with total points near that range. That being the case, the number to beat is 300, 200 or 150 for a 2-, 3-, or 4-player game, respectively. If you can regularly score higher than that, you can legitimately claim the coveted title of "Good at Scrabble."

The other rule of thumb when it comes to Scrabble scores is that no rule, including the above, is universal. Two variables break any rule that asserts an absolute scoring threshold: Scrabble is, in part, a game of luck, and a great deal depends on the other players. Good Scrabble is all about minimizing those two variables.

Make Smart Moves to Build Your Score

The old adage, so old that it was originally written in Latin ("audentes Fortuna iuvat"), is that fortune favors the bold. In Scrabble, not so much.

Boldness has its place in Scrabble, but tight fundamentals and defensive play have bigger ones. Relying on boldness in Scrabble means gambling that you'll get the letters to lay down one or two mighty plays. That's unreliable.

Instead of counting on something you can't control, focus on what you can. The name of the game is area control. Don't think in terms of going back and forth with your opponent, or building the longest or highest-value words. Instead, control the board, claim or block off bonuses so that only you can use them, and play off high-scoring letters to deny future opportunities to your foes.

Those are goals you can work toward on every turn, regardless of the letters Lady luck dishes out. In the game of go, that kind of play is called tenuki, literally, "ignoring the opponent." Soccer calls it build-up play. We call it smart Scrabble.

Play Against Challenging Players

This may seem counter-intuitive, but bear with us: play most often against the opponents who make you score lowest. Getting reliable high scores is satisfying, but it doesn't improve your game. Playing the people who make you tear your hair out does.

Taking on challenging foes lets you identify the weaknesses in your own game and figure out strategies to improve. Getting 500 points against someone who had to blow dust off their tiles is no achievement. Breaking 300, consistently, against someone who plays just as much Scrabble as you do, is how you get good.

The Key to a Good Scrabble Score

The highest score in competitive Scrabble history was 830, achieved by Michael Cresta in a 2006 two-player game that totaled a ludicrous 1,320 combined points. For serious gamers, there's a temptation to fixate on achievements like Cresta's.

Fight that temptation. An 800-point game is equal parts achievement and fluke. To truly master any competitive game, what counts is steady improvement over time. In the high art of tabletop gaming, a player is never really competing against their opponent. We compete against ourselves. The ultimate answer to "what is a good Scrabble score?" is "one higher, or achieved against a tougher opponent, than last game."

That said, for even more help cranking your score to max, take a look at our 25 high scoring Scrabble words you'll actually play.



Matt Salter has been a professional writer for over 10 years. He is a gaming and technology expert, and world-class word nerd.

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