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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 @04:01PM (#42607747)

    I agree. Nerfing the high point letters in scrabble would be like nerfing home runs in baseball. Sure they have an outsized impact on the game relative to their frequency (home runs are more common than triples), but the key point is that a game should be interesting not that things should strictly be rewarded in proportion of their difficulty.

  • by Sarten-X ( 1102295 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @05:04PM (#42608593) Homepage

    There are three ways to play Scrabble.

    First, there's the novice's strategy. Pull letters from the back, make a word on the rack, and figure out where it can fit. At this level, the game is purely a contest to see who has the biggest vocabulary.

    For intermediate players, recognizing words scrambled on the rack is easier, and perhaps even memorizing common anagrams is a viable means for improvement. Multiple options are planned, and bonuses (including making multiple words) figure into the decision.

    Experts use the letters more as a means to control the board, under the assumption that their opponent has perfect tiles to use opportunities open to them. The game is less about words, and more about controlling what options the other player has available. A low-scoring word may be the best option if it means that future plays will be better. The whole playable dictionary is memorized, and anagrams are recognized naturally. This is not to say that words are unimportant, but rather that the game is more of strategy than chance for experts.

    Whether a particular letter actually matches its distribution means practically nothing to the really competitive players. The score total of each play, though, is something these players have spent years refining.

    Source: One of my in-laws is one of the top 5 Scrabble players in his state. I know exactly how poorly I play... and I had a cheat sheet and help.

  • by davidbrit2 ( 775091 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @07:04PM (#42610429) Homepage
    That's what Scrabble is missing! Power creep!
  • Re:It doesn't matter (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sarten-X ( 1102295 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @07:30PM (#42610787) Homepage

    Blocking open Ds will eliminate a lot of past-tense words. Blocking other open Es will require the opponent to have both Es for the many "ee" words. No, it's not possible to completely and reliably lock out opponents, but experts can make each turn very difficult. Most competitive players will keep track on their score sheet of which tiles have been played, giving them a clear picture of what options the opponent has. Some will even keep track in their head, accurately. It's not terribly hard to turn that list of options into a defensive strategy.

Don't get suckered in by the comments -- they can be terribly misleading. Debug only code. -- Dave Storer