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Subject: "Shockers" Upwords Review rss

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Eddy B
United States
Kansas
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Scrabble-Light.

That's what I'll call it. Parker Brothers, who also gave us Scrabble, has released Upwords which is a lighter and less intense version of Scrabble.

The board is smaller and the major difference is you can build on top of words that have already been played. For example, if somebody played the word beat. They could play an "l" on the "a" and make it belt.

Another difference in the game is the scoring system. There are no double word plays or letters worth more than the other (with the exception of the QU). Point values are two points for every tile in words that are one high, one point for every tile in words with any height greater than one. Pretty simple.

I've only played this with one other person and the game moves fairly quickly. With such a small board space (10x10), the word selection you'll usually see is that of a 3rd grade vocabulary.

If you are a fan of word games, stick with Scrabble. Upwords doesn't offer much in terms of strategy of a strong vocabulary. Games can usually be played within an hour. I'm guessing this game though would work better with kids.

But regardless, spend the extra few bucks and purchase Scrabble instead of Upwords.
 
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W M Shubert
United States
Lexington
Massachusetts
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Agree 100%. It sounds cool to get to change letters, but it became clear pretty quickly that Scrabble has better gameplay in every way than Upwords.
 
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j preen
Canada
Nova Scotia
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Personally, I like upwords more, and I play a good level of scrabble. The difference is not so much changing single letters in words, but finding a way (using the crazy short scrabble words to change many words at once. Very often we get solid blocks of letters at various heights, 3x3 or even 4x4 sometimes...

One useful variant that doesn't come with the board is "challenge upwords" which was an option in EmailUpwords (which was the reason I started playing the game and although now unsupported still can be made to work); In challenge both sides have half the letters and play to have their letters at the top of the board piles, so the game becomes even more confrontational with opponents trying to make words which are different to change.
I have never tried this version on a real board, but it should be possible with some coloured transparent pieces of plastic...
 
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Jeff Kunkel
United States
Smithtown
New York
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I actually prefer Upwords to Scrabble. I dislike having certain letters being worth more points since, if you don't get any high scoring letters (and there are only a few of them), you're in trouble. It also moves more slowly as players try and maximize the value of every single tile they play - after all, that's how you win.

Upwords, in contrast, is more about utilizing the boardspace more efficiently rather than maximizing tiles (since every tile is worth the same number of points). The decision of when to start stacking is tricky since, intially, you'll likely get fewer points when you first start stacking on a word. However, the payoff skyrockets once the words reach 3 or more tiles in height. The strategy, then, is to start stacking on a word that you'll be able to follow up with on the next turn (or turns). The corollary, of course, is that you also want to mess with your opponent's plans by following up on a word that they started stacking on, thus reaping the benefits of their sacrifice.

Regarding the "3rd grade vocabulary" comment, unless you're playing at tournament level, Scrabble games are usually not won by the player with the better vocabulary. They're won by players with better pattern recognition and board control. Knowing how to get your "X" on that triple word/letter score and how to deny your opponent access to the same is the key to the game. Upwords, as noted above, has a similar dynamic with stacking. Knowing all the fancy words in the world won't help you a bit if you aren't good at recognizing patterns and assessing board position.

In the end I find any tile placement game to be too random to be played "seriously". Thus, I find Scrabble's mathiness of trying to squeeze the absolute maximum value out of every tile in conflict with the randomness of tile drawing. It's just too much work to put into a game I might lose anyway because my opponent got higher scoring tiles than I did. If I want to think that much I'd rather play Chess, Zertz or Caylus - games that I know I lost or won because of my own planning.

In the end, for me, Upwords reduces the mathiness (significantly) and luck factor (a bit) but keeps the board control. In fact, I think it improves the board control since every square on the board has the potential to be valuable depending on how the players lay their tiles, unlike Scrabble where the bonus squares are static. This all makes for a more dynamic game that moves a lot more quickly, and one in which the luck vs. effort factor balances out rather nicely.
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Mark McEvoy
Canada
Mountain
Ontario
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edytwinky wrote:
Scrabble-Light.

That's what I'll call it. Parker Brothers, who also gave us Scrabble, has released Upwords which is a lighter and less intense version of Scrabble.


Parker Brothers didn't give us Scrabble. They're just the current publisher, not the first one.
 
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Eddy B
United States
Kansas
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Oops, my bad. I just went by what my box said. I have a milton bradley Scrabble as well
 
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elliot rudell
United States
Unspecified
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A primary concept behind UPWORDS was to keep the board alive - so that ONE tile played on any one space did not monopolize that space for the rest of the game. SCRABBLE gets a little constipated in that regard. With UPWORDS, being able to stack up to five high not only keeps most all spaces "live" (i.e. - susceptible to modification) throughout the game, but also - by virtue of the scoring increase as tiles stack - substantially ramps up the strategy/scoring as the game continues towards it eventual conclusion. The game was originally even tighter than 10x10. It was played on an 8x8 matrix - the intent being to force players into a more confrontational environment, and thus motivate them to build UP as well as out. The 10x10 matrix was added to accommodate the Europeans and their often longer words. As to the earlier quip by someone else re third grade vocabulary, I have seen some phenomenal longer words spelled on an UPWORDS board, including words cleverly modified from words already on the gameboard. THAT takes brilliance. UPWORDS is indeed about vocabulary, and also about strategy. Personally, I prefer UPWORDS, but then again, I am the inventor. Winning Moves has just recently (7/15) released a nice retro version of the 8x8 game. https://winning-moves.com/product/upwords.asp
The 10x10 version is available as an app right now for both iOS as well as Android play. It can also be played on FB.
 
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