5 Word game tips
There are many types of word games. Some have rules and goals so different that their only point in common is the central role played by words. Yet, despite these differences, some good word game tips are universal. After all, words are the core of their essence and there is a lot to say about them.
1. Increase your vocabulary
This tip may seem obvious, but it is always good to reinforce its importance. A rich vocabulary is paramount in any word game. In some, it may be the deal-breaker between winning or losing. In others, it may affect your performance even if it does not determine your chances of victory.
For instance, in Word Search games, having a solid vocabulary can help you recognize the words on your list right away. This makes the process of searching for them much smoother and easier. When you do not know the word, you will likely need to keep confirming its spelling and putting your search on hold. Thus, your performance is hindered but not knowing the word does not affect your ability to win.
In games like Crosswords, an unknown word will almost surely result in your defeat. This game is even harder in this aspect because recognizing the word is not enough. You also need to know and understand its definition.
And how can you increase your vocabulary? Reading more books and newspapers is always a good option. You can also do it by simply paying attention to your surroundings, taking note of words you have never seen before. This is valid even for when you are playing games. Any time a new word pops out in a word search or crosswords puzzle, take notice of it and add it to your vocabulary.
2. Learn new words
These two first word game tips may sound similar, but the point now is different from before. Yes, it is true. Increasing one's vocabulary implies learning new words. However, the focus now is not on quantity, but rather on quality.
This tip is specially geared towards players of Scrabble and other similar games. Knowing a lot of words is very important in these games since you need to create them from scratch using only the letters in your rack. However, knowing a great deal of uncommon or even obscure words can make or break a game.
For instance, these words tend to use less-common consonants in the English language. This means that they are normally worth more points. Likewise, because they are relatively unknown, your opponents are likely to try to challenge them.
To increase your chances, you should learn new words strategically. Instead of roaming through a dictionary, you can use a Word Unscrambler, for example. These websites list all the valid words in games like Scrabble or Words with Friends and let you know right away how much you can score by playing them.
3. Look for common endings and beginnings...
This word game tip can be useful in different ways depending on the game you are playing. The most common endings in the English language are -ing, -d, -er, -tion, -ity, -er, -ness, -ism, -ment, -ant, -ship, -age, and -ery. As for beginnings, the most frequent are dis-, in-, re-, and un-.
For instance, in the case of Word Search, grouping the words you are looking for by common endings or beginnings can help you go through your list much quicker. Let us say you have the words DISCHARGE and DISBELIEF on your list. Instead of going through the grid twice looking for each word individually, you can group them by their beginning: DIS. Then you just need to go through the grid once looking for that commonality.
In games like Scrabble, knowing common endings and beginnings is important to be able to transform a word already on the board and earn more points. For example, you can turn CLAIM into CLAIMING, changing a 5-letter word into an 8-letter one. Or PUNISH can change to PUNISHMENT.
Using endings to transform a preexisting word instead of laying a new one is also a tip in itself. By adding a new end to a word on the board you can prevent your opponent from building on it and ensure they cannot get those extra points.
4. … or find the root of the word
When you have too many words with the same ending or beginning, a Word Search grid can get confusing. There will be too many repetitions of the same pattern and you might find yourself losing precious time trying to tell the words apart.
In these cases, the best tip is to look for the root of the words. For example, UNSUCCESSFUL is the result of adding the prefix UN- and the suffix -FUL to SUCCESS. If you have too many UN or FUL sequences in the grid, looking for the root might be easier.
In Scrabble and similar games recognizing the root of the word is also important. Once the root is on the board, the players can add a prefix or suffix to it to change it and collect points for the full word. Therefore, they should keep an eye on the board looking for these roots. They should also pay attention to the words they play or their opponents can use the same strategy.
6. Focus on unusual letters - Q, Z, X, and J
These are the least frequently used letters in the English language. This means that few words contain them compared to all other consonants and vowels.
As far as word game tips are concerned, this one applies mostly to Word Search puzzles and games like Scrabble or Words with Friends.
In the first case, your approach depends on the words on your list. If none of them contain one of these letters, then you can ignore them in the grid and focus on other spaces. These letters tend to stand out because of their shape which makes them easy to spot. Likewise, when a word contains them, it is easier to look for the unusual letter rather than focusing on searching the beginning or end of the word.
In Scrabble, these letters are the most valuable ones since it is harder to build words with them. If you happen to have one on your rack, you should focus on building words with it to collect its points. This is especially important towards the end of the game. If any of your opponents clears their racks, you do not want to have these letters still with you.
These word game tips may seem obvious to regular players, but it is always good to fresh up their minds. New players may be oblivious to the importance of these simple tips. And experts can sometimes forget the basics when focusing on more advanced strategies.
Regardless of the word game you play, try to remember these points if you want to boost your performance.