Beware Wordscraper’s Custom Boards: With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

I just scored 592 points on a single word in Wordscraper.

The score board for a Wordscraper game, showing I played a 592 point word

But let me start from the beginning. I was one of many Scrabulous users who was devastated when the application got removed from Facebook due to legal action from Hasbro. I wasn’t given much time to mope, however, since the developers quickly released Wordscraper, a game with similar rules that allows you to build custom boards.

The flexibility is quite extensive… you can choose to have multipliers anywhere from 2x up to 5x, and they can be placed anywhere on the board. But while this is interesting, it throws the entire notion of balance out the window. For example, look at the board where I scored 592 points (light blues are 4x word):

The game board for my current Wordscraper game

Looking at the column third from the right, it’s easy to see how one can get 592 points… I ended up with a 64x word multiplier!

Scrabble strikes the perfect balance in the placement of full-word-multipliers: While it is technically possible to get two with one word, it’s rare, and you usually need a bingo to do it. The new configurations in Wordscraper change the game entirely: Instead of avoiding the edges to keep your opponent from getting a 3x word score, you’re avoiding entire sections of the board to try and keep the scores manageable.

It’s an interesting twist, but really, I think it can quickly lead to poor game design. I mean, come on… 592 points? That’s beats my best Scrabulous score in one move, and makes the game not even a reasonable competition. The question is, are there well-designed boards besides Hasbro’s standard? I may have found one… I’ll share it if it bears fruit.

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The conversation continues...

  1. On August 4th, 2008 at 8:52 am, Samantha said:

    I used to customize Minesweeper to make it much easier. Unfortunately I quickly found it boring and less challenging. I can see this happening in Wordscraper. If you can get all those points in one move, why finish the game? You’ve essentially won.

What do you think?