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Hopefully these reviews will offer very short, though helpful pro/con reviews for those trying to make their mind up about this game.
GAME: SCRABBLE (1999; Deluxe Edition)
PUBLISHER: MILTON BRADLEY
- Unique game. There really is nothing like Scrabble out there. Sure, there are other games that involve words (Boggle, Upwords), but Scrabble is the one which offers word fans the most freedom and variety. Plus, in its 60th year, Scrabble is a proven cornerstone in word gaming. One of Hasbro's greatest copyrights.
- Learning with every play. Obviously, there will be opponents who use words that you have never heard before. And there will be opportunities to use words that you may not really know either. Often I will pull out a dictionary during and after a game to find the definitions. Not only do you get to beef up your word knowledge, but new words will only help your future games.
- Psychological word warfare. One of the most intense parts of Scrabble is the word challenge. It is perfectly acceptable to try to deke out an opponent by playing a "word" that looks like it is part of the dictionary. An opposing player could challenge it, but risks a forfeit of their next turn if the word exists. We've had a lot of fun trying to catch each other out putting fake words into play.
- Excellent components. As I am reviewing the Deluxe Edition, the quality of the game should be noted. From the plastic grid top, to the dark wood tiles, to the rotating game board, the Deluxe Edition is the only choice for players who are purchasing their first Scrabble board. Of course, the downside is that it is difficult to travel with.
- Bad tiles syndrome. Anybody who plays Scrabble will know that it doesn't take much to get a real bad hand of tiles. Spending time trading in tiles or playing two-letter words can waste valuable scoring opportunities.
- Board freeze. Often with every few plays there is a situation where the board becomes almost impossible to play on. This happens when the board is built up in a diagonal manner. In these instances it becomes extremely difficult to build new words into play. As this happens during the mid-game, play can become frustrating and downtime increases considerably.
- Downtime. Players can spend lots of time trying to think of the best word to use, and the best place to put it. Scrabble Deluxe comes with a sand-timer, but it isn't practical because one must wait for the entire timer to drain before using it again. I'd suggest only using a timer only if necessary, and use a digital timer instead.
- Newbies vs. Experienced players don't stand a chance. Like chess, if you aren't hovering around the same experience level with your opponents, you've got a pretty good chance of losing. Even for players of equal experience, one player getting good letters in their hand or a couple of good bingos will pretty much leave the rest behind. This is where the luck of drawing tiles can be frustrating.
Nobody can argue against the classic status of Scrabble. It is one of those games that we are first introduced to as children (usually in the form of "Scrabble Junior") and it is a commonplace international icon. Scrabble is a game for everybody, although players who do not play often might find themselves lagging behind quickly. Scrabble is one of the few educational games that I enjoy playing, and I am always up for a challenge. It works perfectly with 2-4 players. Other then the luck factor of the tile draw that can make you sigh, Scrabble is one of the simplest and greatest knowledge games ever made.