2018 First Half Publications

As previously promised, here’s sample of my latest postings elsewhere on the Internet during the first half of 2018.

Zenoss blog

Industry articles

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

Lessons Learned in 2017

  1. Online banking is a no-brainer.  We never realized how unnecessary (and fee driven) the bricks-n-mortar banks were until we switched to an online bank. For those occasional in-person events (need some Euros or cash a bond), keep a few dollars in a local credit union and get access to on-premise services.
  2. 2 factor authentication – DO IT TODAY!  Ever wonder how your friend’s Facebook or Google account was hacked? It’s because they didn’t have two-factor authentication enabled. It’s a simple setting, and you should do this on your prized Internet accounts before finishing this post.
  3. Global Entry is a traveler’s dream.  After 4+ years of using this magnificent system, we can attest to its ability to save hours of standing in lines – both TSA and US Customs. The program ensures TSA Pre-check along with a simple hand scan to get back into the country, and now, there are some lighter-weight options if flying domestic primarily.
  4. Scrap those scrapbooks with digitization.  After fires destroyed ~25 houses in our neighborhood during a dry spell, we determined our photos were the only non-replaceable item of importance. Pro tip #1: Use a service to convert those hard copies. Pro tip #2: Put those pics in a digital frame, so you actually look a them. Pro tip #3: Do a little at a time.
  5. Allergies and cough – be gone!  Neti pots have been around for literally 1000’s of years, and they still work wonders today in simplified form. At first sign of a sniffle or sneeze, start using this daily to induce a significantly retracted symptom duration.
  6. Life’s schedule doesn’t follow conventional patterns.  There are traditions and then there are milestones. As a family, we strive to never confuse nor confound the two.

2017 Publications

Over the past year or so, I spent more time writing in various forums, and I wanted to find a way to capture these musings in a common place. First, some family and friends have asked to see some of these articles, and second, I wanted to be able to reference this material in a common way. Consequently, I created this follow-up post to provide links to some of last year’s material and plan to make periodic summary posts to capture future writings (possibly quarterly).

Zenoss blog

Industry articles

20180212_112407.jpg

 

Part III – Intermediate Play (cont) – Words With Friends

 

Target audience:

  • Semi-competitive player with 10 or fewer simultaneous games
  • Enjoys winning slightly more than making clever words
  • Wants to limit playing time but still win 60% or more of the games
  • Has mastered all the skills listed in Part I – Basic Tactics
  • Has mastered all the skills listed in Part II – Intermediate Play

Tactics

Learn word creation via tile mapping.

      1. Find the most valuable tiles on the board.
        • Access to a DW or TW.
        • DL, TL, DW, TW with a vowel next to it where two words can be made with same tile.
        • Extending an existing word with J, Q, X, or Z.

        Find valuable tiles. (1) Key starting points - 1 Key starting points - 1

      2. Match most valuable letters to those locations.  Add any other letters from your rack which appear to form common syllables or letter combinations.

        High value tile on high value square. (1) High value tile on high value square. (2)

      3. Use this as the starting point for creating words.

        High value tile on high value square with word. (1) High value tile on high value square with word. (2)

Know and use the vowel and consonant only words.

  • These are very valuable when your rack is full of either vowels or consonants.
  • If nothing can be created, see tile swapping section below.
Vowel Only AA AE AI EAU OE OI
Consonant Only (no Y) BRR BRRR CRWTH CRWTHS CWM CWMS
HM HMM MM NTH PFFT PHPHT PHT
PSST PST SH SHH TSK TSKS TSKTSK
TSKTSKS ZZZ

Master the tile swap.

  • Use this tactic sparingly, but consider using in these situations:
    • Rack contains 3-5 of the same letters.
    • Rack contains all vowels or all consonants.  (See all vowel and consonant only section above.)
    • Opponent is really far ahead, and you need a Hail Mary to even have a chance.
  • Keep these letters when swapping:  A, D, E, R, S, T
  • Swapping 4 or fewer letters is preferred to avoid consecutive bad racks.

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

 

Part II – Intermediate Play – Words With Friends

Target audience:

  • Semi-competitive player with 10 or fewer simultaneous games
  • Enjoys winning slightly more than making clever words
  • Wants to limit playing time but still win 60% or more of the games
  • Has mastered all the skills listed in Part I – Basic Tactics

Tactics

20 point minimum.  Strive for this minimum score in all cases.

  • Use this as a guideline to get your score above 350.
  • This rule-of-thumb helps balance time management with a decent score. (i.e. Find a 20 point word with decent defensive stance and move to next game.)

 30+ point word.  Play whenever and wherever.

  • With this many points, it’s OK to let down your defensive stance.
  • Often, the worst case is your opponent will respond with a similar score, but it’s worth the gamble and keeps you in control of the board.

2-letter words.  You must know these to be speedy and see the pairings naturally.

  • For Blackjack players, this is no different than memorizing simple strategy.
  • This is big time booster and prevents unnecessary trial-and-error.
  • See the following table for a list of these:
AA AB AD AE AG AH AI AL AM AN
AR AS AT AW AX AY BA BE BI BO
BY DA DE DI DO ED EF EH EL EM
EN ER ES ET EX FA FE FI GI GO
HA HE HI HM HO ID IF IN IS IT
JO KA KI LA LI LO MA ME MI MM
MO MU MY NA NE NO NU OD OE OF
OH OI OM ON OP OR OS OW OX OY
PA PE PI QI RE SH SI SO TA TI
TO UH UM UN UP US UT WE WO XI
XU YA YE YO ZA

Defensive letters:  V, C & K (to some extent)

  • Use these letters to play words to prevent your opponent from connecting to your word.
  • These letters can be used to render a TW or DW unusable for the rest of the game.

Using the V to block Using the C to block Using the V to block - 2

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

Part I – Basic Tactics – Words With Friends

Target audience:

  • Casual player with 5 or fewer simultaneous games
  • Enjoys making words and chatting with friends
  • Wants a decent score but isn’t highly focused on having the highest score
  • Has played few games and understands the basic mechanics of the game

Tactics

Avoid placing a vowel beside or below a DL, TL, DW, or TW (as much as possible).

Avoid Vowels under TL Avoid Vowels over TW Avoid Vowels next to DL

Know the big scoring letters, and use them well:  J, Q, X and Z

  • Don’t hold these for long as they take up space on your rack.
  • It’s imperative to know the two letter combinations for these letters because it’s a likely placement.
JO QI XI XU ZA

Word placement is often more important than the word itself.

  • Rookie mistake:  A big word isn’t always a big scorer, especially if it allows the competition to take advantage of a DW or TW.

Tile Misplacement - 1

Know the math.

  • Making two words from a DL or TL doubles the DL/TL.

Poor use of math Good use of math

Know the specialty rules!

  • Bingo – 35 point bonus for using all 7 of your tiles in one play
    • In almost all cases, it pays to play a bingo regardless of the resulting defensive stance.
    • Bingos are much more common in the first half of the game due to the amount of open tiles.
  • End of game scoring
    • Most close games are determined by who empties their rack first.
    • The player to go out first receives points equal to the opposing player’s remaining rack, while the opposing player loses the same amount of point. (i.e. The opposing player’s tiles are worth 2X to you.)
    • Get rid of any J, Q, X, or Z when 15 or fewer letters remain.

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