It’s no secret that people love word games, and millions of people turn to board games, their computers, and their smartphones to play their favorite ones. Among the most popular word games out there are classic Scrabble and the app Words With Friends. The two share a lot of similarities, naturally, as they’re both played with similar sets of rules, but there are some notable differences between them.
For starters, Scrabble was first introduced in 1938 and became a staple of households around the world. To this day, there are still thousands of Scrabble clubs around the world with more than 150 million versions of the game sold. As for Words With Friends, the game is almost exclusively in app form (though they did make a fairly unsuccessful board game) and is played by more than 10 million people each month.
Today, we’ll take a look at the major differences between classic Scrabble and Words With Friends, though we won’t say if one is better than the other.
Of course, we’ve already mentioned how one of the games (Words With Friends) is mostly online while the other (Scrabble) is mostly physical, it doesn’t mean that either game has tried to muscle into the territory of the other. The previously mentioned Words With Friends board game didn’t sell well, mainly because people felt that they already had a copy of Scrabble and didn’t feel it was necessary to have both.
Scrabble has also tried to get into the online game, with Hasbro setting up a website where you can play games with friends, against the computer, or with random people worldwide (the same way as Words With Friends). However, the inverse of Words With Friends trying to get into the physical market was true for Scrabble in the digital world. Many felt, “Why do we need X when we already have Y?” With that said, Words With Friends is the go-to for digital, and Scrabble for when you have friends and family in person.
When it comes to both games, there are double and triple-word score tiles, as well as double and triple-letter tiles. However, the placement of these tiles is the opposite of each other. The specialty tiles on a Scrabble board make the shape of an X through the board while half diamonds make up the sides of the board (and a triple word score in the center of each half-diamond). The double letter scores surround the center space diagonally in each direction to get things started.
As for Words With Friends, there is a diamond surrounding the center square, with the double word tile being four spaces away in each cardinal direction. Surrounding the main diamond of specialty tiles is another larger diamond, though it’s missing the final tile to complete the shape. In each corner, there are diagonals of four tiles, including two triple-word tiles at the end of each line.
If you’ve ever played Scrabble with someone who is a hardcore fan of the game, you can almost count on having an argument over whether or not a word you’re using is an actual word. Thankfully, Scrabble has a very clear set of words that are allowed and publishes its own dictionary that’s often updated. Hasbro has even teamed up with Merriam so that you can easily search online to see if your word is valid.
As for Words With Friends, it doesn’t use the official Scrabble dictionary but has a slightly modified version. It’s called the Enhanced North American Benchmark Lexicon, and there are some glaring differences. It’s much easier to play a slang word in Words With Friends, especially since it’s aimed at the members of younger generations who are more accustomed to playing on their phones.
In Words With Friends, you can make your way up the leaderboard, but you’ll mostly be stacked up against your friends rather than on a global scale. Sure, there will be weekly competitions to see who can get the highest score out of anybody in the world, but there typically aren’t prizes or sanctioned competitions where you’ll be making your way to a convention center in Las Vegas.
As for Scrabble, there are ratings that you can get from playing in official tournaments. If you defeat an opponent with a high ELO rating, you’ll see a massive jump in your rating. The more tournaments you play, the better of an idea you’ll have about where you stack up against the typical Scrabble player. Needless to say, people take Scrabble very seriously in competitions where it’s not as cutthroat as in Words With Friends.
Letter Score Differences
If you feel like the scores in Words With Friends end up higher at the end in Scrabble, it’s because many of the letters are worth one or two more points in the online game.
For instance, the letter J is worth an additional two points in Words With Friends, while several other letters including B, C, and M are worth one more point each. As for the letters that are higher valued in Scrabble, it’s only Y and H that are worth an extra point.