Benjamin Franklin once famously said that “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”, and this is true in all walks of life. Doing your homework will always give you an advantage and help you win, whether that’s finding the chinks in your opponents armour, studying the runners and riders for a flutter on the Grand National, or watching the technique of top golfers to cut down your own handicap.
Now, you might think that Scrabble is all down to the luck of the letters, but you can prepare to win by training your brain to think quicker and smarter, and there’s a huge range of word games that can help. Here’s our top five apps that will build your Scrabble skills and expand your vocabulary to give you that winning edge.
Conundra is a simple, against-the-clock anagram game that sharpens your ability to see patterns in random letters. The free version of the game offers a seemingly random set of letters and gives you 90 seconds (in practice mode), or 30 seconds (in medium mode), to solve the anagram. It’s just like having rack after rack of Scrabble tiles to work on, and it quickly trains your brain to see the possible combinations.
Combining a word puzzle with the ancient Chinese wall building game of Mahjong, Word Jong literally adds new levels to the challenge by stacking the letters on top of each other. Not only do you have to find words from the available letters, you also have to be careful what letters you leave on the wall, so that just like Scrabble itself, you’re not left with two Cs and a V that you can’t use.
Simply to play yet fiendishly difficult to master, Tap Word is a frantic time challenge to find as many words as possible from adjacent letters on the 3×3 or 4×4 grid, in as little as one minute. It sounds easy but it’s all about coping with the pressure and thinking fast as the time ticks away. As any successful Scrabble player will tell you, playing fast and keeping your opponent on the back foot can make a huge difference.
Of course, Scrabble is about more than just spotting words, playing strategically and moving fast; you also need the vocabulary to back it up. Synonymy, developed with Prof. Richard Dawkins, is a thesaurus style word game that takes you from one apparently unrelated word to another via a series of similar meanings, or synonyms. (Think ‘Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon’ but with words). The game really makes you think about words as its ‘warmer/colder’ sound effects guide you gently in the right direction.
At the end of the day, no amount of training can replace actual game time when it comes to ‘match fitness’, so it’s always worth playing the Scrabble app or it’s many imitators, as often as possible. Wordfued is one of the most popular word grid games, offering a Scrabble style board and plenty of detailed stats to check your progress. Unlike the real thing, it also lets you try out possible words without penalty, helping you to build your vocabulary of legal plays and discover many weird and wonderful words that you’d never dare to try in a live game.