The Lowdown On Upwords

It's Like Scrabble In 3-D
But Not Really...

Upwords is a word board game that was originally designed by Elliot Rudell for Milton Bradley. At the time, this game was designed to compete with Hasbro's Scrabble game. However, since Milton Bradley has now become part of the Hasbro company, the game's name is now 'prefixed' with Scrabble. Actually, this makes sense, since it is in fact a form of Scrabble. Well, sort of...

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Flashcards like these are my favorite way to learn new words. There are quite a few programs and courses out there you can use to build your vocabulary this way, but if you want to know my absolute favorite Click Here.

The Gist Of Upwords

On a basic level, the game is much like Scrabble.

Like Scrabble, words are played either diagonally or horizontally on a board. However, there are quite a few differences in the game.

First, its board is much smaller than a Scrabble board, being 10x10 instead of Scrabble's 15x15 (the original was an even smaller board at 8x8).

Second, there are no numerical values given to the letters, which all count as one point, and there are no double or triple letter word scores to gain premium points.

Third, not only can you play your letters horizontally and diagonally on empty spaces on the board, but you can also play letters on top of other letters that have already been played, in order to make a new word and score more points. (Hence the game's name!)

These differences with Scrabble make scoring easier and the play a lot more interesting and challenging.

How To Play Upwords

The game begins a lot like Scrabble, with each player drawing 7 tiles. The first player then plays a word using one or more of the central tiles. The number of letters he uses is his score for that round. He then draws letters from the draw pile to again have 7 letters and the play passes to the next player.

Each additional player may then form a new word either by playing off one of the previous players tiles like in a traditional scrabble game or by placing a letter on top of one or more letters from a previous word and making a new word.

For example, one player makes the word HAT. The next player may then play a B over the H and add a T and a Y to the end of the word, making the word BATTY.

A subsequent player may then place an R over the B and add their own B to the beginning of the word, changing BATTY to BRATTY.

The higher the letters go up, the higher the score, as each player gets 1 point for each letter in their word and an additional point for each letter under each letter in the word they made.

For instance, in our example the first player scores 3 points for the word HAT. the next player changed the word to BATTY, so he scores 5 points for his 5 letter word and an additional point for the letter that he covered giving him 6 points. The person who then formed the word BRATTY gets 6 points for their word plus 2 points for the two letters under the R.

One important detail of this game is that because there are no bonus spaces, players are not allowed to add an S to a word to make it plural unless they can use that S to form an entirely new word as well.

So while you cannot add an S to STICK to make STICKS, and count 6 points, you can add the letters SEW, say, in the opposite direction, and count both the 6 letter word STICKS and the 3 letter word SEW.

This makes the scores for words played later in the game usually worth much higher scores than those played at the beginning of the game. It also requires quite a bit of strategy to try and score the most points and win.

The game ends when all the letters have been played or play cannot continue. The person with the most points at the end of the game wins.

Players can play the board game version, choose to download the game from a number of sites, or play for free through Windows Live.

A Few Playing Tips

  • Try to add letters on top of a word that has a large stack of letters underneath it -- this will increase your score significantly, and really is the name of the game.

  • Make sure you take your time and study the words on the board to work out where the 'hotspots' are.

  • Remember that letters such as Z and Q won't count for any extra points, no matter where you play them, so get rid of them as soon as you can. Try using them in a word where they will be difficult to cover, which will help you keep your opponents from scoring additional points.

  • You can often make three words with one play, so look for those opportunities to increase your score.

The Final Word On Upwords

If you like Scrabble, chances are good that you will find this version of the old favorite, exciting and challenging to play. It is an excellent game for ages 12 and up, although younger players can enjoy playing as well. So, take the time to check out Upwords if you have the opportunity.

Return to Word Games Home from Upwords

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