For what seems like an eternity, Scrabble has been the standard for word-based board games, but there’s a new kid in town who has gained quite a reputation. Words With Friends has become extremely popular since its initial release, and while it doesn’t change the Scrabble formula, it does bring some minor variations.
Words With Friends is Scrabble, make no mistake about it. There are visual differences, and the game board changes the placement of the bonus tiles. While Scrabble lets you play online using Facebook, Words With Friends is entirely about playing online. You must set up an account first and give up an e-mail address. Once your account is active, you can invite friends to play from Twitter, Facebook, or your contact list.
If you don’t have any friends, you can play with a random stranger and lay down creepy words like “stalker”. During games, you can use the in-game chat client to taunt your buddies after you place a huge word like “quijibo”.
The hardscrabble life.
Sadly, Words With Friends doesn’t allow you to play against an AI opponent. This isn’t a huge issue because playing with friends is much more fun, but it does require a constant internet connection. If you’re waging word war on multiple fronts, you can allow Words With Friends to send you push notifications when your friends (or enemies) make their moves.
There are some technical issue that plague the game, however. Sometimes games can disappear for a short period of time, only to reappear without your recent moves. The chat client will sometimes mark old messages as new. The technical issues have been few and far between since the latest updates, which has made the experience much more stable.
Words With Friends is a bare-bones Scrabble clone with legs. We still hope to see some new features down the line, and some fixes for the infrequent technical issues. But if you’re a word game master, Words With Friends is definitely worth picking up.