Part IV – Advanced Strategy – Words With Friends

First and foremost, following these techniques is an acknowledgement that WWF is not a word game; it’s a strategy game. If you want to play for laid-back fun, skip this part, but if having a higher score than your opponent is what drives your enjoyment, keep reading.

Target Audience

  • Competitive (but not psycho) player with 10+ simultaneous games, a smaller set of serious games, or interested in playing tournaments
  • Acknowledges WWF is not a word game; it’s a strategy game
  • Winning games drives the enjoyment more than making words
  • Has mastered all the skills listed in Part I – Basic Tactics
  • Has mastered all the skills listed in Part II – Intermediate Play
  • Has mastered all the skills listed in Part III – Intermediate Play (cont)

General

  • Memorize the 3 letter words, starting with the words that involve J, Q, X and Z.
    Sure, this is tough ask, but even the smallest effort in reviewing these combinations will speed the process of finding words that allow you to improve your rack and/or avoid having to swap tiles.
  • The all-consonant and all-vowel words are especially useful when your rack is less than ideal. NOTE: Using the listing while playing is cheating, IMO, so find a time to review it when not in the game. Plus, when playing 5-10 games per day, there really isn’t time to look at a listing.
  • Play your opponent and become disciplined in defensive tactics.
  • Determine whether your opponent is a big word player, highly defensive, or a balance.
  • Sacrifice points to prevent your opponent from playing TW or two DW’s.
  • After each turn, research the meaning of any words you or your opponent played which were not previously known. This not only helps increase your vocabulary, but it helps you remember the word for future games.

Time Awareness

Gain awareness of what is often referred to as ‘time’ in chess, which means using various techniques at different phases of the game. Continuing with the chess analogies, there’s an opening, middle and end game, and having this sense of time will allow a player to mentally jump from game to game with minimal brain power used for context switching.

Opening (40-60 letters remain)

  • Always swap letters on your first move to attempt a bingo or a better rack.
  • Avoid playing a first play with a vowel on the DL as an early 30-40 point lead by your competitor is hard to close.
  • Work on creating bingos in these first few plays as this is where the board is most friendly (i.e. open). Bingos often require working your rack while maintaining decent early scores (20+ points).
  • NOTE: WWF-2 now has the ability to swap without taking a turn. This feature is borderline invalidation of the competitiveness of the game, but if someone is willing to pay Zynga to beat you, that’s their prerogative.

Middle game (15-39 letters remain)

  • When playing a defensive player, focus on beating their score by 5-10 each round. While this might sound like obvious advice, a purely defensive game is more about preventing a big play than it is playing a bingo in the middle of the board.
  • A hard-core defensive player will destroy you if you start playing big words out into the middle of the board. Playing a bingo next to a TW or TL needs to be carefully considered.
  • When playing a big score player, defense is still important, but the focus should be on the highest score possible every play.
  • At this point, you might be thinking that getting the highest score every round is a much simpler and effective method, and this is a tough mental paradigm to break. Ultimately, finding the appropriate balance of score and defense will give you the edge in the final score.

End game (0-15 letters remain)

  • If ahead by 30-50 points, don’t make any risky moves that could allow your opponent to even the match.
  • Instead, focus on moderate, defensive moves aimed at possibly preventing your opponent from making a big move on a TL or DL next to a vowel.
  • It’s absolutely key that you get rid of the Z, Q, J, and X immediately since these count against your score times 2 (effectively) if your opponent goes out.

Side note: I recently mentioned to a friend that I was still playing WWF, and he was surprised the game was still in vogue. At the time of this writing, there are 60-65 million games happening at any point in time, which makes it still amazingly popular.

Other Posts

Introduction
Part I – Basic Tactics
Part II – Intermediate Play 
Part III – Intermediate Play (cont)
Part IV – Advanced Strategy
Part V – Hard Core Tactics

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