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[Comments] (5) Scrabble Rule: I was thinking about the point at which Scrabble stops being fun for me: the point at which I reach the edges of my vocabulary and start gambling on things I think are words, because I can't play anything else. Why don't I trade in some tiles? Because that costs a turn, which is BORING.

So here's an idea for an additional rule that should keep Scrabble play in the realm of actual words. On your turn, you can trade in n tiles and then play up to 7-n tiles. If you play, your play has to incorporate at least one of the new tiles. (That's so you can't trade in tiles and then play the small word you were going to play anyway.) It's worth a test run.

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Posted by Brendan at Fri Feb 27 2009 12:41

I'd play that, with the addition of another house rule: when you play a word, it only has to work in ONE DIRECTION. That would circumvent the two-letter-word-memorization hack that breaks the game for me.

Posted by Leonard at Fri Feb 27 2009 13:25

I also don't like the two-letter hack, but it seems better to just ban uncommon two-letter words. Creating multiple words at once is one of my favorite parts of Scrabble.

Posted by pedro at Fri Feb 27 2009 17:31

Actually, the way I like to solve the two-letter hack is to just have a printed list available for consultation. If you're going to ban uncommon words, you'd need a list of common ones, so why not just make them all available instead. There are few enough of them that it's easy to consult, and then you learn them that way, too.

What is really annoying, and ruined the Holiday Scrabble Season this year in Poplar, WI, is that the word DE is a valid two-letter scrabble word (in some OSPDs). That's right, DE, the french article. But of course in Scrabble, foreign words are not allowed. This devolved into a long debate about what actually constitutes a word, anyway, when things like UH and UM are allowed? I found myself wishing I had a linguist and a lexicographer handy.

(Apparently DE has been removed from later OSPDs, but we only had an OSPD3.)

Posted by Nathaniel at Sat Feb 28 2009 16:53

Our solution to Scrabble being un-fun is to play Pick Two instead:

Basically it keeps the fun part of Scrabble (making elaborate clever crosswords under a letter-use constraint) while eliminating the annoying parts (waiting while other people chew their lips, and the frustration of having something really awesome you could do but you already played the other tile you need and now you're stuck).

It's not as well suited to Serious Competitive Play, but opinions may differ on whether that's a flaw or a bonus...

Posted by Ben Heaton at Wed Mar 04 2009 18:08

Banning uncommon two-letter words has the issue that people will have varying expectations of what shouldn't count. Is AB uncommon? Greek letters? Musical notes? You'd effectively be making a new word list, and knowing exactly which two-letter words are contained in it would still be a big advantage.

Personally, I didn't have much trouble learning the twos — only about a hundred of them, most of which I already knew as words. Much easier than the threes. But on the other hand, I don't mind playing with people who'd rather use a reference sheet for them.

I also actually like it when I start gambling on strings that might be words. Having an element of bluffing in the game is fun, and it's a great thrill when I play something not knowing whether it's good, someone challenges, and it turns out to be a word after all.

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