Triple Nerd Score

I love Scrabble dearly, but I recognize that it has its faults. At a certain level of play, it ceases to be about coming up with fascinating words, and becomes something about knowing as many valid combinations of tiles as possible so as to maximize the chances of getting 7-letter “bingo” scores. That’s fine if your friends play that way too, but if they don’t, it isn’t long before people refuse to play with you because you beat them on the challenge for “gar” and followed up by playing “agar,” hooking the A for your seven-letter word off a word they were pretty sure didn’t exist to make two more words they’re pretty sure don’t exist.

On and off, I have mused about a sensible way to do the rules to Scrabble that would allow more interaction between players, and actually prioritize spelling interesting words over killer combos. The best I’ve come up with so far is a hypothetical computer-based variant that would allow you to swap letters and would award points to words based on how uncommonly they appear in web searches. It’d be hard to keep track of word score values in an actual board game version, though.

So, I am looking forward to trying out these alternate Scrabble rules someday. Basically, instead of each person drawing letters randomly, you bid competitively for letters after everyone’s made a play, and then subtract the bid from your score. It sounds like it would make the game longer, but as far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing wrong with a little more Scrabble in our lives.