Friday, March 16, 2012

Differences between Words with Friends and Scrabble

Note: In the comments, a lot of people have expressed anger or bewilderment that Zyngo can "get away" with such a close copy of Scrabble. It's actually not surprising at all, and probably not much cause for anger, either. I have written a post examining those issues here

I tried to search online to find a clear, concise, and complete list of the rule differences between Words with Friends and Scrabble, but to my surprise, I couldn't find one. There are lots of off-hand mentions, but no concise and complete lists.

So, I will attempt to compile one here. This will be an evergreen post, updated with any corrections or clarifications I come up with later. Without further ado:
  1. The boards are the same size, but the layout is completely different, as pictured at the bottom of this post.
  2. Scrabble contains only 12 triple-letter spaces, while Words with Friends has 16. Scrabble has 17 double-word spaces (including the opening square) while Words with Friends has only 12. (Both have 24 double-letter spaces and 8 triple-word spaces)
  3. As previously mentioned, the opening move in Scrabble is always a double-word score, while that is not the case for Words with Friends. (However, if you can find a 5-letter-or-longer word, you can always reach a double-word square from the opening square)
  4. English language Scrabble contains 100 tiles, while Words with Friends uses 104.
  5. The letter frequencies are slightly different (as they would have to be if the tile count is different). The only significant deviation is that there are twice as many H's in Words with Friends (4 vs. 2). The complete list of differences is given in the table below.
  6. The letter point values are slightly different. In every case except for H and Y (both 4 points in Scrabble and 3 points in Words with Friends), the point values are the same or higher in Words with Friends. The primary change is that most of the 3-point words in Scrabble are 4 points in Words with Friends. Notably, L, N, and U are only 1 point in Scrabble but are 2 points in Words with Friends. The complete list of differences is given in the table below.
  7. A Bingo in Scrabble is worth 50 points, but only 35 in Words with Friends (since just about everyone in Words with Friends uses computer assistance, this is probably a useful rebalancing of the game)
  8. I have been told there are non-trivial differences in the dictionary of allowable words. One notable difference with strategic and tactical implications is that AHI is allowable in Words with Friends. This may turn out to be confusion over some of the words added in TWL06; AHI and DIF are two words that are accepted by Words with Friends but which many on-line Scrabble word lists don't include because they have not been updated with the latest changes. I've also been told that Words with Friends tends not to accept profanity, while of course that is perfectly acceptable in Scrabble, but I have not yet verified this. I am attempting to collect a list, and any help is appreciated. (Update: Commenter HFMadison reports that Words with Friends does not except FAG. I will attempt to verify this as soon as I can.) (Update: I just opened a game with SHIT -- which aptly described my tiles, by the way -- so at least some profanity is acceptable. My opponent responded by extending it to SHITHEAD. "This is going to be the best game ever" was his comment.)

Letter

Scrabble points

Scrabble frequency

WWF points

WWF frequency

A

1

9

1

9

B

3

2

4

2

C

3

2

4

2

D

2

4

2

5

E

1

12

1

13

F

4

2

4

2

G

2

3

3

3

H

4

2

3

4

I

1

9

1

8

J

8

1

10

1

K

5

1

5

1

L

1

4

2

4

M

3

2

4

2

N

1

6

2

5

O

1

8

1

8

P

3

2

4

2

Q

10

1

10

1

R

1

6

1

6

S

1

4

1

5

T

1

6

1

7

U

1

4

2

4

V

4

2

5

2

W

4

2

4

2

X

8

1

8

1

Y

4

2

3

2

Z

10

1

10

1

Blank

0

2

0

2

Total

N/A

100

N/A

104



Words with Friends on the left, Scrabble on the right. Just to make things confusing, I guess. Click to enlarge.

111 comments:

  1. Thanks, I was genuinely curious about this. Still surprised they can get away with something so similar to Scrabble and not have it be copyright infringement.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah it's hard to believe with all the lawsuits that nothing has been done yet with other sites like http:// www.scrabbleaword.com

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    2. Well, there are plenty of Monopoly knock-offs out there that seem to be perfectly legal, as long as they don't actually call it "Monopoly". I was under the impression that the rules for a board game would be subject to patent rather than copyright, anyway, and any patent that applied to a game that's been around as long as Scrabble is going to be long expired.

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    3. I believe you are correct that the rules would be subject to patent. The instructions and possibly the board design would be subject to copyright, and I think this explains most of the rule changes (i.e. they had to change the board; I am less convinced that changing the letter frequencies was necessary to avoid a copyright challenge, but they may have been playing it safe).

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    4. Let's see what Fremantle Media (owner of Hasbro, the maker of Scrabble) will do.

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    5. every site says there are 6 R's, I am in a scrabble game and so far there are 7 on the board-so are any of these distribution counts correct????

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    6. One of them is probably a wild.

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  2. I think that's actually why the small variations... you can't copyright a process or copyright a game per se... You CAN copyright the directions, and you can definitely copyright the board layout. As to whether you could copyright the letter point values and frequency distribution, I think that would fall in a gray area.

    Really, the only form of intellectual property protection that would apply for something like this would be a patent, but a) you probably would not be successful patenting a game broadly enough to cover WWF, and b) I don't believe they tried anyway. (and it's far too late now)

    I agree it feels unfair, but intellectual property law simply doesn't afford protection for this sort of thing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Scrabble could have gotten a Patent -- its just patents expire after 20 years. So if they did, it is long expired. I know Jenga for instance was patented.

      Unlike Trademarks -- which last forever, as long as you use it.

      And Copyrights last for Life+70 -- so usually over a Century.

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  3. i think its not unfair..i have made a scrabble board by my own because i am an avid fan of scrabble, its really fan..i have started playing words with friends also..

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  4. Regarding profanity:
    I am an avid Scrabble player and old enough to have played for years before we had computers. My strategy is to jam up the board with interconnecting words, especially using the 2 or 3 letter words. I had a terrific play with "fork", the "f" hitting a triple letter, and also creating the word "fag", thus giving me 24 points on the "f" alone. I was stunned when "fag" was rejected -- stunned! I have used and played this word many times because I have used and played "ag" many times. I have never and would never use this word pejoratively! Do you ever watch movies from the 30's and 40's? And, to add insult to injury, I can not find any place to complain to Zinga about this rejection. One more like this and I will boycott!

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    Replies
    1. Most online scrabble games nowadays allow you to pick which version of the dictionary you will use in your settings menu. This may be your problem.

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    2. It wouldn't even let me play Jew.

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    3. It's correct to not let you play "Jew". Jew is not a word, it's a name.

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    4. Jew is also recognized as a verb.

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    5. Jew is a word just like Arab, Englishman, German, etc.

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  5. Wow, that's incredibly lame. I agree with you that since there are at least two non-derogatory definitions of FAG, that makes it especially silly.

    I was thinking you must be wrong because I just played a game where my opponent used FAG, but now I remember that was the Scrabble app. Anyway, I have updated the post accordingly and will try to get secondary confirmation the next time I have the right letters for it.

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    Replies
    1. I ran into that one organically. I tried to play "faggot" by which I meant: a bundle of sticks or twigs, esp when bound together and used as fuel... and it would not take it. I have run across dictionary non-inclusion of other legitimate words on several occasions... I can't remember the words on all of them, but recently it rejected ROSACEA, which I thought would have been a splendid play from my largely vowel ridden hand of tiles, especially since I would have been playing across TWO existing words supplying the C and ending A. Does anyone know were you can complain about legitimate words not being included?

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    2. I also believe that "fag" should be an accepted word. If we keep removing words from the dictionary because they can be used in a derogatory way, there will be no end to it.

      I also use a helper at https://wordswithfriends.us/ that uses the same dictionary as the game, and it lists the word "fag" when search for these letters. Is it possible that they added the word back to the game?

      Delete
  6. Words with Friends is a travesty. Cheating is rampant. What is the point if you can guess at words, you can program letters into cheat sites, and these fools who invented the game get to decide if something is a word or not? To me this game is another good example of the dumbing down of America.

    Scrabble was a dignified game that required intelligence and integrity. I played WwF once, never again.

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    Replies
    1. It's still strategy even if you use an anagram program. And it is much less dependent on bingoes which makes ordinary vocabulary much more powerful.

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    2. Agree 100%. It must be a word you can define and commonly used in the English language. Eliminating two letter words like QI would help. As for the cheats, you are only cheating yourself and cheats should certainly invalidate any pride you have in winning.

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    3. Guessing is perfectly legal in Scrabble. There is no requirement that you be able to define the word you play and I never do...if you want to know the definition, you have to challenge me. (This is not my own meta-rule or house rule, this is how tournaments are played as well.)

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  7. My wife feels similarly, but my response is that they are simply different games. While Scrabble obviously relies more heavily on word recall, there are other entertaining aspects to the game, such as letter placement tactics, strategic tradeoff between scoring high vs. blocking your opponents scores, etc. And also, unless you use one of those programs that just tells you the best possible play, even using word finders you are going to be at a disadvantage if you don't have good word recall, particularly for two- and three-letter words. You can refer to a list or guess words, but "seeing" the best plays often requires knowing the words (or at least knowing likely words) to begin with.

    I liken it to the difference between chess and Advanced Chess, aka cyborg chess, aka centaur chess. That is, chess where each player uses the assistance of a computer. It is a very different game, but it is a legitimate game nonetheless: Tactics are essentially removed from the equation, and the subtleties of strategy become the sole concern.

    And make no mistake: Good Advanced Chess players do not just make the move the computer tells them to. While the best computers and the best humans are neck and neck right now (the machines seem to have eked out a consistent advantage in the last decade or so, but the top grandmasters can still hold their own against the best computers), the best computer-human team is significantly better than either. By a similar token, there are things good Scrabble players do which a computer cannot help you with, and I daresay that a good Scrabble player unassisted should be able to tackle a n00b Scrabble player with access to a word-finder.

    As far as "these fools who invented the game get to decide if something is a word or not", have you heard of TWL? Cuz uh... the fools who invented Scrabble do the same thing :p

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  8. WWF doesn't accept "Jew" either...but it does accept "gi" which, last I checked, is not allowed in Scrabble. Those differences are killing me as I try to,use Scrabble strategy!

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  9. fag and faggot - I think it has an interesting origin. I travel quit a bit and I think the English are still always asking for a fag (cigarette). Look it up and you will see why. You will also see why it is a very bad name to call somebody, but only because it is referring to a person.

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  10. Yeah it's especially baffling that FAG wouldn't be accepted since it has plenty of legitimate meanings. However, I'm suspecting there may have been a reversal on the profanity policy, as I just recently opened a game with SHIT and my opponent responded by making it SHITHEAD. :D

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  11. The Words with Friends board layout is quite different from the Scrabble board layout. Also the number of total tiles in the game as well as the percentages for getting a certain letter are different. I stumbled upon the list you provided above.Scrabble word finder

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  12. My husband and I have an agreement not to use word finding sites when playing either WWF or Scrabble. The only way to play in our book...

    Love them both and very good for the mind to switch back and forth.....

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  13. The word list in WWF caused me to uninstall what could have been a great game. You can play "cocksucker" but you can't get play "faggot". Explain that one and you can spin crap into gold.

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  14. Was able to play shitted. The s that I used was a blank.

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  15. I am beginning to suspect that it doesn't ban profanity, but does ban "hate speech". Given that it's a social game, I can see some justification for that... it could get kind ugly if the wrong kind of person played the word "nigger" at the wrong time, you know what I mean... OTOH, it's very silly to exclude "fag" and "faggot" since there are non-derogatory meanings!

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    Replies
    1. WwF seems laughably politically correct. Not only will it disallow swear words that are permissible in Scrabble, it won't allow "hate words", or alleged hate words, like jew and chink - as if chink weren't a perfectly acceptable common noun that has nothing to do with Chinese people.

      That said, I still prefer Scrabble because of its layout and its broader acceptance of vocabulary. (Though it irritates me no end to see DA disallowed. Anti-Irish bias?)

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    2. I'm Jewish and I'm really offended that people around here think the name of my people is a hate word. Why can you say German but not Jew?!?!

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  16. Personally, I don't understand why they would ban any words at all. As long as it is an actual word that is. Whether it be plain profanity, or considered "hate speech."

    In my opinion, when used in a word game like this, fag, faggot, and shithead are just letters that are being put together for points. I am in no way regarding my opponent by the words I choose. The object is to score the most points and the fact is, I play to win!

    If I have the letters to make one of the above mentioned words and it provides me with a strategic edge, I should be able to play such words. After all, this is just a game right?

    The only thing I can think of is that when playing WWF through Facebook, you may have minors playing along too. Some parents may not appreciate their children learning, hearing, or being subjected to such content.

    I might argue that this is Facebook's problem and WWF should let them worry about that, however, Facebook might block that app altogether in such a case. Now I am thinking though, isn't there an age requirement for creating a profile on FB? I'm also curious if there is an external site to play WWF through, as to avoid FB altogether? I will have to check into that.

    Regardless of the outcome, however, I will continue to play. I also liken WWF to chess, though in a slightly different context than the author mentioned above. I often pick the location I would like to play before ever looking at my tiles. Once I have chosen the most strategic location (whether it be because of awarding the most possible points to me, or simply blocking a triple word space from being used by my opponent)I place the letters together in common variations. For example, if there is a "g" available to play on and 2 spaces before that is the triple word space I would like to use, I might place an "i" and a "n" before the "g."

    Once I have done that, I can look for words with my remaining tiles that can end with "ing" like "camping" boating" and so forth and so on. Often times I create a word with that strategy without even knowing what it means. In fact, I may have never even heard the word before.

    I don't consider this method as "guessing" per say, because I am using my knowledge of English syntax to put common letters together that often end up creating a word. I have always played this way, though I imagine it would probably take some time to get used to for someone trying to learn this strategy, as you often create a word using the end, or middle of the word as a starting point.

    A couple more examples of this is the letter "d". I wouldn't place a "g" or a "n" on either side of it, because those to letters are not commonly used side by side. I would, however, put an "e" before it, because "ed" is the past tense for a whole bunch of words!

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  17. Oh, I'm sorry... GREAT ARTICLE by the way!!! Very interesting and quite informative. You completely answered the questions I came here to find and additionally, I learned a few other things about the game along the way!

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  18. I am sorry but all the rules and board layout tweaks when compared to the official scrabble just look like alterations to avoid a law-suit, rather than a completely new game. It's obviously just Scrabble with 'alterations'.

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    Replies
    1. They now also have a words with friends board game!!??
      Wish I'd thought of reinventing a board game on computer and then turn g it (back) into a board game!!

      Delete
  19. @Bennie: Thank you for your kind words and your insightful commentary! Scrabble (and its clones) is indeed a pretty deep game, and I think a lot of people underestimate the strategy element of it. I have a friend who I slaughter in WWF every single time, and I'm not sure she really understands why. For the most part, I'm not really coming up with better words than her either; it's all just superior strategic play.

    Re: The various people talking about WWF being a Scrabble rip-off. Well... duh! I mean, I don't think anybody is under any illusions that WWF is intended to be an original game. I do think it's likely that the board and letter distributions were changed to avoid a possible copyright challenge (yes, copyright; see my response to Nick Clark above). I suspect the reduction in points for a bingo was done to rebalance the game for online play (when people may use word finders, and even if not the ability to guess words means that the role of vocabulary/memorization is lessened), but the other rule changes seem arbitrary.

    But so what? I guess if that offends you on some deep level, okay... but for me, I dunno, it probably actually serves to sell more Scrabble boards, because people will get hooked on WWF and want to play it in real life. It's not illegal; and while the ethics are debatable, I don't think Milton Bradley is being seriously harmed here (and suspect they may benefit in the long run).

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  20. Oh yeah, and one more comment I wanted to make... it hit my while reading Bennie's comment that probably the reason for the banned words is Facebook's ToS. Obviously FB does not ban profanity, but they do ban hate speech. Now, in my opinion, playing a racial (or homophobic or misogynist) slur as a word in a Scrabble-like game does not constitute hate speech, but it's possible that WWF is erring on the side of caution.

    Now, that said, I did have a friend play FAG in the Scrabble Facebook app... so who freakin' knows...

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  21. Interesting post/comments. I would agree that there's still strategy involved in WWF -- there are people I'm pretty much equal to in WWF, others I usually beat, and others who routinely beat me, and I would say we're all pretty wordy and nerdy (just think differently in the game).

    I'm teaching a Scrabble class after school this fall and I'm assuming many of the students I'll have became interested through WWF (either their own play or watching a parent). And I'm glad to have this post to remind myself of the ways in which the two games are different!

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  22. I don't understand all the furor over WWF not accepting words like fag and jew. Scrabble has a dictionary...WWF has a dictionary. You know, for the most part at least what words are different, and you should be rewarded for setting it up in Scrabble. You should not be rewarded for setting up for a word that you know isn't in the dictionary. Adapt, adjust. Not terribly difficult to know a few words are going to be different.

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    Replies
    1. Just noticed the eerie fact that you also live in Rochester when I was just trying to find the words with friends dictionary as I wanted them to add the word sigla.

      Delete
    2. Replying to the Anonymous from September 8... Well, there's a couple of ways to respond here.

      First, just saying "It's the dictionary, get used to it!" is not really a fair retort in all contexts. If a Scrabble clone decided to drop the word HAND from its dictionary, well, I mean I guess that would be okay in theory, but it would be confusing and pointless. I feel the same way about removing FAG -- there is more than one valid non-pejorative usage, and it just seems capricious and arbitrary to remove it. (One could argue that the non-pejorative use of JEW is a proper noun, and exclude it on that basis)

      The other thing is -- and maybe I am just being ignorant here -- but I am not aware of any publicly available way to get the complete WWF dictionary. Without that information, your comment "You should not be rewarded for setting up for a word that you know isn't in the dictionary" becomes irrelevant: The whole point is that we don't know what words are in the dictionary, because the dictionary is not publicly available and the criteria for inclusion/exclusion are not consistent.

      Lastly, you'll notice that in the post proper, I make no judgment about WWF's dictionary (though you will see some opining from me in the comments). The purpose of this post is to catalog the differences, not to past judgment. As you say, "Adapt, adjust," but one cannot do so unless one knows what she is supposed to be adapting and adjusting to. This post is intended to serve as a resource for just that.

      Delete
    3. Well, I don't think games like Scrabble should really be designed just for people who know how to play Scrabble. By that I mean, yes someone who plays Scrabble regularly will know all the weird 2 letter words that you'll never see written or spoken anywhere else in the english language, but it's also still possible for someone who's never played before to excel at it, as long as they have a good vocabulary and an aptitude for anagrams...

      It must be annoying for a non-scrabble player playing the game to watch his opponent rattle off all these obscure two or three letter words that he's never heard, and then try to play a word that he KNOWS is good, like Fag or Jew, and get met with a rejection. It makes the game seem arbitrary. You can't just say, "You should know the dictionary", otherwise why not just make a version of scrabble with a bunch of made up words and no real ones?

      Delete
  23. Why don't you try BetterLetter instead? It's way better and available in French. Also free.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I was pleased to find this post. I haven't played scrabble for many years. A friend recently urged me to play them at 'Words With Friends' and I thoroughly enjoyed it but several times I had words rejected which I then checked in the Collins Scrabble Checker which suggested they were allowed in scrabble (http://www.collinslanguage.com/scrabble-word-games/scrabble-checker) Unfortunately I didn't note down which words I had rejected but none of them were profane although possibly obscure.

    I also, don't understand the furor about the words fag and faggot. To my British (English) ears they are quite normal words. Fag can be slang for cigarette or could refer to an historical practice in English boarding schools (See Tom Brown's Schooldays by Thomas Hughes). In most British supermarkets it is still possible to buy faggots (usually with onion gravy) which are a type of offal meatball although they are currently unfashionable. Although I know of the offensive use of these words, in my part of the world I haven't heard them used in that way in the last forty years.

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  25. I truly think this game's random players are computerized and not a real person. How can a word be accepted and then rejected like "EE" I have seen it receive points and when I try to spell ee it's rejected.

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  26. This is all silly argumentation. A game isn't about this small inconsequential differences. The game is played the same. Canadian football is football just the same, even though some of the rules are different, the field is different, etc. It is still football. Game play is the same. A forward pass is still a forward pass. You still have first downs.
    Words with friends "tries" to be something unique but is an OBVIOUS rip off. Now they intend to make WWF into a board game??? This is just STUPID. Proof that all this world is devolving to is how to make money off of suckers. Go to Good Will and fork over a dollar. It's the same freakin game people.

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  27. "This is all silly argumentation. A game isn't about this small inconsequential differences."

    Perhaps I should not comment early in the morning, as I will tend to be overly grouchy... but this is just a really dumb, vacuous thing to say. By your logic, the CFL shouldn't even have a rulebook, because they can just use the NFL's rulebook, and any other discussion is "silly argumentation" about "small inconsequential differences". Yeahh.....

    Regardless of how one feels about WWF, surely you can see that, for those of us who play both WWF and Scrabble, it is useful to have a list of rules differences? Especially since Zyngo doesn't seem to have seen fit to have published the WWF rules or word list anywhere...

    Of course, I do agree that a WWF board game is absolutely ridiculous. WWF is successful because they made an excellent (and free) social Scrabble clone before Milton Bradley could get a lock on the market with their (paid) licensed version. (And FWIW, I have found WWF is more stable on my mobile than Scrabble, although I have friends who have reported just the opposite) But a board game? Yeah, that's just silly.

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  28. Thanks for the article. I was wondering if you knew all the 2 letter words that are playable in WWF and not Scrabble. So far I know FI, GI and DI work in WWF and not Scrabble. Do you know of any more? Thanks, Aaron

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  29. For another game that looks like a Scrabble clone too but is very different in terms of its word base and thinking, try the link at the bottom. Any word in English is playable, because wild asterisk tiles can represent any series of letters. For example, QUA*IST could be QUARTERFINALIST! Good players can use all 7 tiles 3/4's of the time.

    http://www.wildwords.us

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  30. You should have also mentioned that both Scrabble and Words with Friends count remaining letters the same at the end of a game—winners get the loser's remaining points, while the loser subtracts theirs from their own total score. It's not a difference, but worth mentioning.

    Also, there are a few things that should be expanded on/corrected:

    The dictionaries used in the Scrabble app (at least for iOS) can be either the OWL2 word list (TWL) or the more family-friendly version, OSPD4. So, you can have some curse words allowed if you're using the TWL, but not if your settings are using the OSPD4.

    Words with Friends uses a different list called ENABLE, and they build upon that list with user recommendations and their own word-wants, which is why you see words like zen and texting in WWF but not Scrabble. This is the original ENABLE word list that was their starting point, which was listed in WWF's rulebook.

    And that brings me to…

    Zynga does have a rulebook published—online and on your mobile device (and probably on Facebook too). You can get the rulebook online here, and it's the same thing that's listed on their WWF apps under:

    Help -> Help & Support -> Learn to Play -> Rulebook

    Now… they haven't really update their "rulebook" since they first made WWF, but it gives all the important need-to-know stuff. The rest is intuitive for the most part.

    Other than that, nice post. You did a good job separating the two. Why do I know the above stuff? I covered some of this last year on my old blog, in a couple of old puzzles I made (still relevant today) here and here. Forgive the links, but I thought you'd like to check 'em out because you said that you couldn't find any real lists of differences online (and you might have fun with the puzzles), but I guess they weren't posted much earlier than your article.

    PS: I found this when I saw your most recent "Scrabble and Intellectual Property" article... also a nice article.

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  31. "(since just about everyone in Words with Friends uses computer assistance, this is probably a useful rebalancing of the game)"

    Only pussies/morons/imbeciles use computer assistance.

    Peace out...

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  32. Word with Friends does not accept "twat" as a word. Twit is ok. Twat is not.

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    Replies
    1. Twit is a pregnant goldfish, twat was probably helpful in getting it pregnant?

      Delete
    2. No, goldfish don't have twats.

      Delete
  33. Words with friends has just told me 'FRIDAY' is not an acceptable word!?!?!

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    Replies
    1. I think WWF has got it right this time: Proper noun. I'm pretty sure that would be illegal in tournament Scrabble as well.

      (Any Scrabble geeks can correct me if I'm wrong)

      Delete
  34. In Response to your "About Me Section"

    There is no such thing as a atheist... you must be agnostic...

    Absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence.

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    Replies
    1. In Response to your "Comment"

      There is no such thing as a theist... you must be agnostic...

      Absence of evidence isn't evidence of existence.

      Delete
    2. That is silly, not witty.

      Atheism is the belief that there are no gods. Why does someone need proof there are no gods to believe it?
      By that logic no religions have been proven so everyone must be agnostic.

      And what about lies you have been told that you actually believe. By your logic you also cannot believe them.

      Maybe look up the meaning of belief.

      Also, to the owner of the blog: this site is infuriatingly annoying to commen on from an ipad. Not so mobile friendly at all.

      Delete
    3. Sorry! I tested the site from mobile one time like two years ago, and I don't think I tried commenting. I'm not sure how much I can do about the commenting specifically, given that it is hosted by Blogger.com, but if I suddenly find myself with a bunch of extra time, I'll take a look at it :)

      As to the whole "No such thing as atheist, must be an agnostic", I've been meaning to do a pair of posts on this: One about people like our first anonymous friend, who think that atheism is an untenable position and that only agnosticism will stand, and another about fellow atheists who deny the existence of agnostics. (I do think it's fair game to challenge some agnostics to define how their position is functionally any different from atheism, but ultimately people get to choose their own labels)

      The very short answer about the "there are no atheists, only agnostics" thing: Sure, absolute certainty is impossible when making evidential claims about the real world -- as the stoned freshman philosopher major said, "You can't know anything, man!" But so what? Why put metaphysical truth claims in a separate category, where the lack of absolute certainty means that we can't even claim strong confidence?

      There's no evidence of a rare coin in the bottom of the cup of coffee I am drinking right now, and so I feel confident saying I'm not going to get suddenly rich when I finish my morning Joe. But by your argument, since absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, I must remain completely agnostic as to whether there is a rare coin in this cup of coffee. Maybe there is, maybe there isn't!

      No, sorry, that's just silly. If you judge truth claims like a stoned college student, then I'm an agnostic about Jesus, Muhammed, leprechauns, and the dragon in my garage. But if you judge truth claims like a normal person, then I am firmly an atheist.

      Delete
    4. An agnostic believes it's unknowable whether there is a god or not. The common form of atheist sees no evidence of a god and thus figures there is no reason to think gods exist.

      What you are saying can't exist is the hard atheist position, a belief that there is no god. Your argument only applies against this latter position and even then I don't think it's valid.

      Delete
  35. WWF accepts BI but not TRI...so you can only do things twice in the world...?

    Strange that you cannot play JEW but you can play JIHAD...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Bi" is slang for bisexual and thus a word.

      "Tri" is a prefix, not a word.

      "Jew" is a name, unacceptable.

      Delete
    2. Jew isn't a name, it's an adjective. It's like Englishman, Irishman, German, Arab or Greek. I don't see why people around here treat it like it's a derogatory word -- it's not. It's the name a group of people call themselves. It's in the dictionary.

      Delete
  36. I think the best approach (as has been said) is to treat them as separate, though incidentally quite similar games. This post is exactly what I was googling for out of idle curiosity. So thanks!
    PS I can confirm that FUCK is unplayable in WWF. Much to my chagrin at the time...

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  37. It seems to me that WWF is easier (a nicer way of saying dumbed-down) than Scrabble.

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  38. I can confirm that words with friends does not allow 'fag'.

    Was quite startled that it wasn't accepted as of course, we all know it is a legitimate word.

    This really is PC gone overboard

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  39. I am Australian and many English words we can use in our authorised version of Scrabble (SOWPODS) are not allowed in the super-PC Words with Friends - below are some I've tried. Some of them have more innocuous meanings in Australian English, others are English as used outside the US of A.

    They are:
    - FAG
    - WOG (means 'a head cold' or other minor ailment in OZ ENGLISH)
    - TOEY (sometimes means just 'restless')
    - YID, ROO, NON (all allowed in Scrabble)
    - OUIJA (as in ouija board)
    - SIXER (reference to a batting score in cricket, a game seemingly unknown in US)
    - UNI (allowed in Scrabble as commonly used for 'university', more than just an abbrevation)
    - PISSY - ('weak' in OZ ENG)

    Anyway, who cares if a word is offensive? It is still a word, and not directed at anyone in a board game.

    I have thought that the main difference between Scrabble and WWF is strategic. The triple letter squares near the triple word squares in WWF amplify scores, and the board requires more defensive play to win. It is more useful to place high scoring letters well in WWF than to put down a 7 letter word, unless you do both at the same time.

    Yours
    OZ

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The issue of Scrabble dictionary differences is relatively complex. In the US, the printed version of OSPD4 is the unchanging reference to minimize arguments - it is the "family version". It is a good comment about strategy differences but in both games, strategy and effective "hooking" prevail over vocabulary knowledge. I was initially shocked at the many relatively meaningless two letter words that dominate victory over great vocabulary knowledge - I quickly memorized these (along with premium 3 letter words) to become marginally competitive. Effective use of, and defense against "hotspots" is another "biggie". Ronald Esin in Africa and the Seattle Scrabble club have useful tools and posts beyond HASBRO and Zynga.
      Kamill

      Delete
  40. Regarding allowable "dirty" words in WWF... I've successfully played TWAT, SHAT, TURD, FART, DOUCHE.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes you can 'fart' but there is no such thing on WWF as a 'farter'. WTF.

      Delete
  41. WWF seems to allow some proper nouns. I just used 'louvre' - which as far as I know is only the museum in Paris.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It also refers to horizontal slats in a door or window blinds.

      Delete
    2. Or a ventilation Panel with horizontal blades. Usually on industrial buildings.

      Delete
  42. Thinking about the letter freq and point count, I think the changes from Scrabble are well thought out. I always thought there were too many 'I's in Scrabble. Most of the point count changes eeems to be toward higher scores, which is certainly the reality in WWF! Also for example, 'V's are much harder to use than 'H's so the change to 5 pts for 'V' and 3 pts for 'H' makes sense.

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  43. Do you pay a lot of attention to optimizing the blog posts for search algorithms?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not a whit :) I really should, I actually do get a decent number of hits over this post. I just don't really have time to screw around with the blog much anymore.

      Delete
  44. Don't worry "No Jesus" your being an atheist is only a temporary problem.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heh, I admit, one big disadvantage of being an atheist is that I don't believe there will be a moment where you suddenly realize, "Oh crap, I was wrong," whereas you get to have that fantasy -- though I must say sometimes seems like a rather disturbing, sadistic fantasy.

      In any case, it's difficult to interpret your comment as anything more than mean-spirited sniping, since you haven't actually presented an argument. Gloating over how right you think you are? Show me more of them nice religious values, why doncha.

      Delete
  45. I wish there was at least some consistency to it's profanity blocks. I've played various mildly profane words and now I lost a really good one:

    I'm down to 5 letters and I hit this gem: "Cunt". TL on the C, TW on the whole thing (51 points) and it connects to "lop" for another 19. 70 points, almost certainly the difference between winning and losing at this point.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Followup: I've changed my mind. WWF doesn't have a profanity filter. What's actually being filtered is anything that can be used as an offensive name.

      "Cunt" is rejected not as a reference to the vagina but as a reference to a woman whose behavior offends you.

      Delete
  46. Scramble With Friends joins the world's most popular word-game franchise... If you like Words With Friends and Hanging With Friends, you're gonna love this one! Try scramble with friends solver.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Zynga has made some extremely popular mobile applications such as Words With Friends and a few others, and today Scramble With Friends has landed in the Google Play Store. Scramble with friends has been available on iOS for some time now, and it is equally as addictive as Words With Friends. The concept of the game is simple, connect the tiles you have to create words, the more letter the more points. Tokens are also collected as the game is played, and these can be used to buy help during the game, for example hints or the ability to free time if you wish.

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  48. I’ve always enjoyed the game Scrabble. The game requires a mixture of vocabulary, strategy, pattern-recognition and luck.

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  49. I came across a new word game on Facebook called Letter UP (https://apps.facebook.com/letterupgame). Mechanics is pretty much like Scrabble and Words with Friends, but a lot better because you can play it in real time.

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  50. Once you have the letters and numbers printed out, it's time to trace them onto the heat 'n bond.

    bols scrabble finder

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  51. Question because I haven't played in years and am a senior citizen. We used to say illegal to play a word and hold the S back so you can make plural next play. Is this illegal, tacky, or good strategy? This can also apply to putting letter on the front of the word. (Ie team becomes steam.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Holding on to the s is not illegal or tacky. The s is one of the single most powerful pieces available and good strategy calls for wise use of it.

      Delete
    2. It certainly isn't illegal. As far as being tacky, that's up to individual custom of course, but I've never heard of that. My philosophy tends to be that if the rules of a particular game allow moves that make the game unpleasant, then the game itself is broken -- i.e. if the rules allow "tacky" behavior, the fault is with the rules, not with the player.

      Delete
  52. I'm about ready to quit WWF (via facebook) because of the unholy frequency with which I get vowels. I will get continuous draws of 4-6 vowels, and frankly find their algorithms suspicious. I wonder if they assign 'profiles' to users and the profile type determines the letters assigned. No way in a real Scrabble game I'd ever pull 2 U's, 3 E's and a Q and an H. I manage to cobble together some dumb word; next draw gives me 2 T's. Would be interested in your feedback.

    ReplyDelete
  53. In the WWF game I'm playing now, I have had several plays of 4 vowels, a Q and a random consonant. NOW I have 3 U's, 2 I's, and A and an E. I'm stopping playing this game. maybe there's a Scrabble game on the net I can play that offers a decent letter draw.

    ReplyDelete
  54. I have played against people who used "MIR" and "SOYUZ". I didn't think these would count since they are Proper Names for space vehicles. Perhaps the Russian words have other meanings.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "mir" = peace
      "soyuz" = union

      I wouldn't think Russian words would be in the dictionary, though.

      Delete
  55. There are indeed some annoying differences in the word lists. I recently made a strategic decision to make an inferior play, fully expecting to follow up with QUIM, legal in Scrabble but not in WwF.

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete
  57. Thanks for this article. To me, WwF often seems capricious in what words it will or will not accept. This article explains a lot. However, I have an example for possible discussion. Recently an opponent played "gox". I assumed he got it from the Words Helper (Cheat), as he most certainly did two other words that he played in that game -- words that probably .05% of the population knows, if that many. The WwF rules are: "All words labelled as a part of speech (including those listed of foreign origin, and as archaic, obsolete, colloquial, slang, etc.) are permitted with the exception of the following: proper nouns (words always capitalized), abbreviations, prefixes and suffixes standing alone or words requiring a hyphen or an apostrophe."

    So I researched "gox", for which Wikipedia gives several meanings: abbreviation (several); "Central Banda language; ISO 639 code gox" (could this be it? Don't know what this is.); and "a character in One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss." In One Fish it's not a proper name; rather it's the name of an imaginary species, so maybe this is the one. If that's so, though, why doesn't WwF accept "gack", another creature from the same book?

    Recently I played "nooner" -- rejected! It's sort of slangy, sure, but the rules don't forbid slang.

    Me, disgruntled.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oops, me again. The rules do say "no slang." But where do you draw the line between slang and not slang? Sorry, pressed "publish" too quickly!

      Delete
    2. First rule of playing any word game. Don't assume just because someone knows a word you don't, that they are cheating. It is so boring. Especially when you are a word-game nut who has memorised obscure words for decades.

      Delete
  58. Words With Friends would have had to have done a lot of legal research to get that through.

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  59. While most people here have been upset by vocabulary differences in the dictionaries or board differences, there is one fundamental difference, which has made WWF much easier, at least in Facebook apps. That is that WWF confirms the validity of a word and THEN asks you if you want to play it. In SCRABBLE if the letter is valid it is played without consent. This latter actually conforms with the original rules: ie one plays a word and then the opponent can challenge the word. In the computerised version by being played it is automatically valid, however it creates the idea that you have to play the word if you believe it is correct. In WWF I can choose to play the word AFTER having verified its existence and its validity. So effectively the game allows itself to be a dictionary which makes it very much easier. The result though is that both players in both games are playing under the same conditions, even though they may not be taking advantage of the conditions in the same way.

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  60. WWF has the worse dictionary -- it allows words that are not legit to be played and denies many words that really are words. Why they won't fix it, in my opinion is because the average age of a WWF player is much older than the average age of a zynga employee (who probably all prefer to play candy crush saga).

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  61. Scrabble accepts "dan" (a level of skill in martial arts). Words with Friends does not.

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  62. WWF doesn't accept the word SLUT. I know it's not an acceptable word in polite company, but it should be in the game!

    I definitely think words like FAG, that once had innocuous dictionary definitions before they become slurs, should still be acceptable in a word game, especially where it might get a player out of a tight jam.

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  63. Do you think the automatic draw of tiles in Word With Friends is random or controlled by the game designers via formula? It seems like the streaks of good letters/bad letters/all vowels/all consonents etc. run in the same patterns.

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  64. A lot of differences between them. It's a nice post. I would like to ask you for a post about whatsapp for pc.

    ReplyDelete