Saturday, January 5, 2008


Like many Facebook members, I have become addicted to Scrabulous - the Facebook Scrabble craze. I played a handful of Scrabble games as a teenager, but it wasn't until I saw the film Akeelah and the Bee that I realized that there was Scrabble... and then there was SCRABBLE.

After a friend casually invited me to join him in a friendly game of Scrabulous several weeks ago, I have become fascinated with the rules and strategies of tournament Scrabble. I've read up on Scrabble, employed selective use of Scrabble-related tools from time to time, and have enjoyed seeing my Scrabulous scores gradually rise, accordingly.

Many times during a standard game, though, I have desperately wished for a little... flexibility... in the rules. Maybe it's my creative side coming out, but I've often taken a combination of letters like JTAILAE and wondered why, exactly, I can't play a perfectly good pretend word like JAILATE (definition: to put in jail).

I recently played a "Challenge" game of Scrabulous with my first Scrabulous buddy, and I suggested a future game where we could play made-up words (in "Challenge" mode the board will accept words that aren't in the TWL or SOWPODS dictionaries) - provided, of course, that we could come up with believable (or at least entertaining) definitions for our new words.

So here are a few Scrabulous variations that I'm suggesting:

1. Proper Name Scrabulous
So many times I've drawn a combination of letters that have spelled a perfectly good proper name, and of course I haven't been able to play it. In Proper Name Scrabulous, you can ONLY play proper names (of people, places or things - including businesses and companies) or made-up proper names, provided you include an entertaining description of the name in the message section. (Note: Any secondary words that you create in a given play must also be proper names or made-up proper names, with accompanying descriptions if necessary.)

Examples of playable words:

KESHAWN (which is actually the name of a little boy I know)
RAYMONDI (definition: the proper, collective name of a set of male twins, bestowed by a particularly lazy pair of parents who couldn't be bothered to come up with two different names for their boys ("i" being a pluralizing word ending, of course))

2. Totally-Made-Up-Word Scrabulous
None of the words that you play may be actual words in the TWL or SOWPODS dictionaries. You must, however, make some attempt to create words that are quasi-believable - i.e. that use standard prefixes and suffixes, word roots, or are inventive twists on real words. Each totally made up word must come with a definition - preferably an entertaining one. (Note: Any secondary words that you create in a given play must also be totally made up, with accompanying definitions. Kudos to players who can create themes with their multiple word plays.)

Examples of playable words:

INGUT (definition: a bar of gold after being eaten by a large animal)
REPROSE (definition: to rewrite some prose)
CREWATE (definition: to select a crew for a jobsite)

(I hope it goes without saying that playing "ZWKLDMI" on a triple word score with the definition "what my infant son says after spitting up" is an abuse of this particular game variation. And your opponent's goodwill.)

3. Somewhat-Fake-Word Scrabulous
A syncretized hybrid of traditional Scrabulous and Totally-Made-Up-Word Scrabulous. You may play real words or fake words, and the fake words must follow the rules of Totally-Made-Up-Word Scrabulous, above. You must, however, state at the beginning of the game which version (Totally-Made-Up-Word or Somewhat-Fake-Word) you are playing - and you may not switch versions part-way through a game already in progress.

4. Slang Scrabulous
A variant of Somewhat-Fake-Word Scrabulous, where you may play only real slang or made-up slang words. (Note: Any secondary words that you create in a given play must also be totally made up or real slang words, with accompanying definitions. Kudos to players who can create themes with their multiple word plays.)

Examples of playable words:

SIC (definition: The "cool" spelling of the current use of the word "sick" to mean something really awesome.)

I also welcome your own inventive variations of Scrabulous games. Friend me on Facebook or the Scrabulous website to begin one of these fun matches...


Michelle Lynne Goodfellow said...

I've come up with another Scrabulous variation:

5. Any Direction Scrabulous

In this variant of traditional Scrabulous, you may play legitimate words in any direction - including upwards and backwards. If you need help figuring out whether the words are legitimate or not, I can direct you to the online TWL and SOWPODS dictionaries (since playing the "Challenge" game - which will allow the backwards words - turns off the dictionary function).

(It's not polite to ask me how often I use the online dictionary during play of legitimate "Challenge" games, BTW.)

Ellebee said...

I'm in for a game of Totally-Made-Up-Word Scrabulous. I have enough trouble finding real words in my real day job as a writer. (And I've already exposed my long-standing Scrabble anxiety.) But a game with made-up words? THAT I could do...

ScrabblePlayer said...

PHAT and
Are all playable words according to the TWL and SOWPODS
Oficially SIC has 2 different meanings, both different from your example.