Five keys to success at Words With Friends using defense

Five keys to success at Words With Friends using defense

Ever since Words With Friends began showing average word scores each week, I've been obsessed with racking up big single-turn scores. And sure, that high average word score looks good, but it's no way to win a Words With Friends game. As with basketball, football and going to the dentist, defense is the way to go. It is the best way to increase the likelihood of a Words With Friends victory, especially when Wurdfle – the god of atrocious letters – is wreaking havoc with your game by giving you a stream of never-ending vowels.

Follow these five tips to ensure your Words With Friends defense is top-notch:

1. Don't pass unless you absolutely have nowhere to go

The first rule of good defense is never to pass and give your opponent a chance to score twice in a row. Sure, Wurdfle might have given you all vowels, but it's not guaranteed that you'll get something better from a letter exchange. What is guaranteed when you use your turn to exchange letters is that your opponent will be able to use whatever tiles he or she wants, including any tiles with multipliers. What I prefer to do with bad letters is to find the best place my opponent might want to go and fill that space with a two-letter word that effectively blocks my opponent's best move. By playing your craptastic letters in a strategic position you can nab a few sparse points for yourself and lessen your opponent's chances of doing well on their next turn. Not exactly a win-win, but a lose-lose turn sometimes can be just as important to winning the game.

2. Mind your Cs and Vs

Yes, Cs and Vs can be annoying at times as they are the only two letters in the alphabet that can't be paired with another letter to create a two-letter word. But you also can work that to your advantage by using words that start or end with C or V so that you can play a word close to a tile with a multiplier while blocking your opponent from being able to get full use out of the multipler tile by doubling it. There also are letters that don't like letters in front of them (Z, Q and J) or behind them (R is amazingly useful for this since it only accepts Es) in terms of two-letter words. Be sure to make full use of these letters to help block your opponent from using tiles with multipliers to his or her full advantage.

3. Be aware of triple-letter tiles

The best tile in the game is not the triple-word tile. It is the triple-letter tile. Always be aware when placing a word that you are not setting up your opponent to take advantage of a triple-letter tile by being able to double up on it with an F, M, P  or – horrors of horrors – Q, Z, J or X.

4. Use the final-letter block

Your opponent just made a word that goes all the way to one tile away from the edge of the board, tantalizingly close to a triple-letter, triple-word combination. Let's say that word is CAN. All you would need would be an E or an S to take advantage of the triple-letter, triple-word combination. Except you don't have an E or an S. What you don't want to do in this situation is to leave it to your opponent to take advantage of this situation on the next turn. What you want to do then is to create a word parallel to CAN using the A and N that goes to the edge of the board to separate the triple-letter and triple-word tiles so they can't be used together. Your opponent will still have a triple-word or triple-letter tile to use, but those are far less effective when not used together.

5. Know what letters are left

The final rule of defense is to pay attention. If you are nearing the end of the game and you see that a Q still hasn't been used in the game and that you don't have a Q, do not play a word with an I in it that would allow your opponent to get rid of that pesky Q with a two-letter word and maybe even double it up. The same goes for J and Z and their set-up letters. (X – the best letter in the game – has too many uses to really block it well.) I hope these tips help. If you have any questions or different thoughts, comment below.

• Going for Gusto is a blog by Joe Grace that looks for the awesome in life. Please support Going for Gusto by liking the Facebook page at Facebook.com/GoingForGusto.

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