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Math Games

Scrabble Needs a New Scoring System 202

innocent_white_lamb writes "A researcher says that some letters are over valued and some are under-valued in Scrabble, due to recent changes to the lists of allowable words. Z and X are now much easier to play and should be worth less, while U, M and G should be worth more than they are now. Joshua Lewis wrote a program to re-calculate the value of each letter to better reflect the current usage. The co-president of the North American Scrabble Players Association says that he often hears criticism of Scrabble's scoring system, but any change would bring about 'catastrophic outrage'. A spokesman for Mattel says that they have no plans to change the game."
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Scrabble Needs a New Scoring System

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @03:07PM (#42607003)

    Why not just version the Rules? Original, 2012, etc? MTG has new decks come out, new rules come out,old cards removed new added... they did fine (relatively).

    The language changes... so should the rules.

  • Mattel? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt@nerdfl[ ]com ['at.' in gap]> on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @03:08PM (#42607025) Journal

    Scrabble is Hasbro IP.

    Hasbro and Mattel are two *ENTIRELY* separate companies. Rivals, in fact.

    Saying that Mattel has no plans to change the game is like saying that Microsoft has no plans to change the iPhone.

  • It doesn't matter (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @03:09PM (#42607037)

    It is a game, the iportant thing is that everyone is playing by the same rules. Sure, if you were to develop scrabble today, it might be nice to adjust the values of the letters to reduce the element of chance in the game, but now there is insufficient reason to go and change it. It woudl still have been ok if every letter had the same value.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @03:13PM (#42607093)

    This was brought up during an NPR interview the earlier this week and I agreed with the mentioned counterpoint. While it makes logical sense for a rework of the scoring system, it's effectively flattening it and removing some of the strategy around the unpredictability of the game.

    Regardless, Mattel has already gone on record (I believe) stating it will keep the scoring as is.

  • by G3ckoG33k ( 647276 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @03:18PM (#42607173)

    Many games have these, 'bonus' and 'penalty', and Scrabble appears to be one of them.

    It is part of the game and Mattel has no reason to change their rules.

  • It's a game (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @03:19PM (#42607185) Journal

    If you don't like it, go get yourself some wood putty and a sharpie and make the letters whatever value you damned well please.

  • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @03:47PM (#42607565) Homepage

    But would you really want to reduce the element of chance? People like to play poker because although you will lose to a poker pro over time, you can sit down with the world's best poker player and win some hands, while with chess you'll lose to Magnus Carlsen 100 out of 100 times. Making it a pure skills-based game is only fun for the one with the best skill, assuming fun should have anything to do with games.

  • by MDMurphy ( 208495 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @03:55PM (#42607679)

    I can see the point made by people wanting to change the scoring. The initial letter/point associations were made based on the number of tiles in the bag and the frequency of use at the time. The "official" rules have changed by virtue of the allowable words. With new acceptable words added the letter frequency changed as well.
    If new words are added (or subtracted ) , to keep the game the same, then eventually the letter scoring would also need to change if the desire was to keep the game from changing. Changes were made for non-English versions, with different distribution of letters and point values: []

    So if English has changed since 1938 it's not outrageous to suggest a new distribution/scoring mix. Desire to keep the game "the same" is also understandable, but that would require using a 1938 dictionary and not allowing new words. ( Nope, can't used "quark" )

  • by pclminion ( 145572 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @03:59PM (#42607725)
    The problem is when the values are WAY off. Then the outcome of the game strongly depends on the letters drawn by the player and much less so on the knowledge of the player. For instance, if all letters were worth 1, but E was worth 10, then it would be purely a game of who draws the most E's, as it is simple to come up with words including that letter.

A committee takes root and grows, it flowers, wilts and dies, scattering the seed from which other committees will bloom. -- Parkinson