The Scrabble Connection
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize that Words With Friend is “heavily influenced” by the iconic Scrabble board game. In a situation that may be best described as an example of “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” Zynga partnered with Hasbro to create and market its series of Words With Friends board games.
Hasbro, Inc. is the owner of the Milton Bradley Company, which in turns owns the rights to Scrabble in the United States. In late 2012, Zynga and Hasbro released the Words with Friends board games under the Hasbro Gaming brand. The board game is effectively an analog version of the Words With Friends mobile game.
Key Differences Compared to Scrabble
The Words With Friends board games naturally have a lot of similarities in common with the traditional Scrabble board game. However, there are also a number of notable differences.
Tile Distribution: A standard game of Scrabble has 100 letter tiles. The Words With Friends board game has 104 tiles. The letter distribution and point values are also different.
Word List: The list of valid playable words in Words With Friends differs from the official Scrabble dictionary. They have a lot in common, but they're not identical.
Letter Tiles: Scrabble letter tiles are made of wood. Words With Friends letter tiles are a translucent plastic in the same yellow/orange color as the mobile game.
Board Layout: The layout of the Words With Friends board game is the same as its digital counterpart, which is slightly different from the traditional Scrabble layout. The triple word score bonuses are not in the corners, for example.
Letter Rack: The standard Scrabble game has a straight, wooden rack for holding your letter tiles. The Words With Friends version has a curved, plastic letter rack.
Compared to the Words With Friends App
The board game is meant to mimic the look and feel of the mobile app. So, you get the same color scheme, board layout, letter distribution and so on. You still need to find words to play. However, there are at least two main differences you’ll want to consider before you buy the Words With Friends board game.
Number of Players: The mobile game is always restricted to only two players. The board game, just like Scrabble, can be played by two to four players.
Valid Plays: Because the board game is inherently analog, there is no automatic rejection of invalid words like how you have in the mobile game. This can change your strategy considerably, because you can no longer make multiple “guesses” for your move until one gets accepted.
And, of course, you’ll need to play the board game in person and in real time, but that goes without saying.
Words With Friends Board Game Versions
Hasbro released at least three different versions of the Words With Friends board game.
Retailing for about $20 MSRP, the regular or “classic” version of the board game comes with a bonus code to redeem the “Words With Friends Ultimate Play Pack” to enhance your online play. The game comes with the game board itself (which folds in half), 104 letter tiles, four tile racks, and a yellow tile bag.
This promotional video from Zynga gives you a good look at the standard version.
Similar to the “deluxe” version of Scrabble, the Luxe Edition of the Words With Friends board game upgrades your experience in a few ways. With a listed MSRP of $40, the Luxe version boasts a premium game board. It comes in two pieces that snap together, letter spaces have raised edges to keep the tiles in place, and the game board can rotate too.
The letter tiles themselves are higher quality. Also, the upgraded letter tile rack features a mobile device holder, handy for keeping the WordFinder app or Words With Friends cheat tool open, right? Even if you aren’t unscrambling letters to form the highest scoring words, you can use the app to validate the words being played.
This hands-on video from TTPM Toy Reviews offers a good overview of the Luxe version.
Words With Friends To Go
Seemingly out of stock everywhere, the travel-friendly Words With Friends To Go game had a list price of about $15. The game board itself, which folds into sixths, is much smaller. Like the standard version, it does not have any raised edges to keep letter tiles in place either. So, it’s not the best option for playing during car or train rides.
While it comes with no letter tile racks, it does come with a handy travel case styled after a Words With Friends letter tile. Check out this video, also from TTPM Toy Reviews, for a closer look.
Should You Buy Words With Friends Board Games?
If you’re a big fan of Words With Friends but seek a more traditional analog experience, then you may find some appeal with Words With Friends board games. The Luxe version is worth the premium, especially for the rotating game board with raised edges on the spaces. However, the board game is either low or out of stock in most stores. And if you already have Scrabble, there’s not much reason to get this too.
Want to put your word game skills to the test but can’t find local competition? Maybe the Internet Scrabble Club is for you. We’ve got the lowdown on everything you need to know about this online Scrabble community.
Michael Kwan is a professional writer and editor with over 14 years of experience. Fueled by caffeine and WiFi, he's no stranger to word games and dad jokes.