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Subject: Play at most one letter tile as a blank for negative points. rss

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Adam Blinkinsop
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Just tested this with a group across skill levels, and it made the game much faster and more interesting.

The gist of it is that you're guaranteed a blank every turn, at a cost.

Each turn, you may choose to flip at most one of your letter tiles upside-down (so that the letter is still visible, but the facing is inverted) and play it as a blank. That letter counts for negative points for your turn, but otherwise acts exactly like a normal blank tile.

If you play an inverted "A" on a double-letter space, it's worth -2.

If your word is worth negative points and is sitting on a double-word space, it doubles the negative score.
We think that this makes the game much more interesting, more strategic, and faster -- all good things.
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Ben Bateson
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Speaking as one of the upper skills levels: Sorry, but it sounds ghastly. That board is a nightmare to interpret and with a guaranteed blank, good players should be pulling out bingos on well over half their turns - which turns the game into a random tile draw.
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Brian Williams
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ousgg wrote:
Speaking as one of the upper skills levels: Sorry, but it sounds ghastly. That board is a nightmare to interpret and with a guaranteed blank, good players should be pulling out bingos on well over half their turns - which turns the game into a random tile draw.


Too right. I can't see a game lasting more than 10 turns with halfway competent players; and strategy flies out of the window when you are drawing seven letters so frequently. Who worries about rack management when any letter on the rack can be replaced by any other?

The number of blanks is restricted to two for a good reason.

There is nothing to stop any group playing to their own house rules, but it becomes Pseudoscrabble at best.
 
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Adam Blinkinsop
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Quote:
There is nothing to stop any group playing to their own house rules, but it becomes Pseudoscrabble at best.


Perhaps it falls apart at high-skill, though the player we had with experience with such things still had fun.

It definitely changes the game, no argument here.

Quote:
... strategy flies out of the window when you are drawing seven letters so frequently. Who worries about rack management when any letter on the rack can be replaced by any other?


I think the strategy becomes much more positional -- playing to lock up parts of the board instead of rack management. Then again, we only tried the variant once (so far), and I'm generally a terrible Scrabble player.

That said: as someone whose Scrabble board generally lies lonely in a closet, the variant makes me want to take it out and play. I'm not suggesting tournaments switch to it, but wanted to share it with those who might appreciate a lower-key form of the game.

Glad to have comments from the high-skill players, though! I can see how this would severely limit the skill in rack management, and agree with you both. We thought the negative points would help keep it strategic, but that probably wouldn't stop someone good enough at Scrabble to bingo every turn.
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Ben Bateson
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Can I recommend Upwords?

It's really good Scrabble-training for less-experienced players, with some of the same 'joker' aspects.

Plus good Scrabble players won't find it completely daft.
 
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Adam Blinkinsop
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ousgg wrote:
Can I recommend Upwords?

It's really good Scrabble-training for less-experienced players, with some of the same 'joker' aspects.
I'll check it out!

Quote:
Plus good Scrabble players won't find it completely daft.
Aw, come on, that's unnecessary. Besides, I don't generally play with good Scrabble players.
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mateenyweeny
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Sounds like he's just being honest.
 
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Ben Bateson
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I was, but it's pleasing to hear the OP take it with good grace.

That's a bit of a rarity around here.
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