Scrabble is a crossword game for 2 to 4 players but with a little bit of imagination it can be played solo. No more waiting on friends to join you if you decide to play solo, plus it’s great practice for those Scrabble game nights!
There are many ways to play Scrabble alone. You can set turn or game time limits, play a PC version of the game, limit the number of tiles used in a game, play a “sudden death” version of the game, limit the number of tiles you draw or even play with all the tiles face up and create the best words you can.
For a solo version set the game up just like you would for 2 players or more. All the rules for the game apply to this single-player version. After drawing seven letters create the best word you can and place it on the board, remembering that one of the letters must be in the center square. You add up your score and double it, just like you normally would, and then draw new tiles to replace the ones you used so you have a total of seven again.
Once you have seven tiles again you create another word and keep going until a word can’t be created or all the tiles are used. If you get stuck you can exchange your tiles for new ones, just like in a regular game. Once the game is over keep track of your score. The objective is to beat it next time you play.
Another version is to return all the tiles to the bag after making a new word and start with seven fresh ones. Keep making words until you can’t make any anymore. Or to make it a little harder, don’t dump the remaining tiles back into the bag, just put them in a discard pile and draw seven new ones. In all these versions keep score like you normally would.
Read More: How about learning to play Risk alone?
Playing Scrabble With “Other” Players
Another option is to play like there are two, three, or even four players. Make the best words you can out of the tiles each “player” has. Set a time limit of about a minute so you don’t cheat and spend too much time planning out someone’s move. High score wins. This is a different twist to the solo game, instead of trying to beat a high score you are actually competing against other “players.”
“Face Up” Scrabble
In this variation you turn all the tiles face up and get the highest score possible. Score as you normally would. To add more of a challenge, start with all the tiles face down, draw 7 tiles and create the first word like you normally would. After that turn all the remaining tiles face up and create words until you can’t. To add even more of a challenge put time limits on the turns. In other words, only give yourself a minute (or whatever time limit works for you) to put down a new word. If you miss the time limit you could either give yourself a penalty, like minus 10 points, or declare the game over and take the score.
Sudden Death Scrabble
You could play “sudden death” Scrabble. Play by the regular rules but instead of exchanging tiles when you can’t make a word the game ends. No tile exchanges allowed if you can’t make a word, you can only replace tiles if you’ve used them to create a word.
If you’d like to add a random element of luck to the “sudden death” game play until you draw the letter “Q” or a blank tile. Once that tile is drawn the game ends and that’s your final score. Play again and see if you can beat that score before drawing the letter “Q” or a blank tile again.
Other Ways to Play Solo Scrabble
Since we live in the computer era you can play against something like Google or play a PC game. After you create your word use something like Scrabble Word Finder (https://scrabblewordfinder.org/) to complete a word for a second player. To make it even more competitive you can play against three other “players.” See how often you can win, or if you can win at all.
In 2013 the Scrabble game was released in its PC version on Steam. It has mostly positive ratings but a common complaint is that it has no multiplayer version. If you like solo play, which is what this website is all about, it would be worth checking out.
Other variations of playing solo are setting time limits or limiting the number of tiles used during the game. Rather than limiting the time per turn you could set a time limit for the entire game, like 45 minutes. Limiting the tiles to 100 will make a shorter, more challenging game. The objective in both of these variations is to beat previous scores.
Try to have a good mixture of vowels and consonants available. Keep the 7 letters you have balanced by saving some vowels and consonants for the next turn, don’t use them all. The optimal combination is 3 vowels and 4 consonants. This balance is especially important in a “sudden death” solo version of the game. It’s better to take a slightly lower score in one turn by saving more useful letters for the next so the game doesn’t end prematurely in the “sudden death” version. Use the harder letters first if you can.
Don’t be afraid to use 2 and 3 letter words. If you pay careful attention to their placement on the board they can be worthwhile. If you can manipulate a two-letter word to end up on a Triple Word square while building onto another word you can get a high score. This will frequently give you a better score than a longer word that doesn’t include a bonus tile.
The letter “S” is an easy letter to use but there are only 4 of them so try to score at least 10 points when using one. Remember that an easy score is to use an “S” to turn a word into its plural form.
Organize the tiles you have into common combinations making it easier to recognize them.
Look for ways to turn existing words into new words by adding common endings to them, like “ing.”
A major part of strategizing in Scrabble is the bonus squares. Try to plan several moves ahead, like a chess player, to maximize scores when used.
There are words having “Q” in them that don’t need a “U” and depending on which dictionary you use will determine how many you will be able to use during the game. For example, the online Scrabble dictionary lists the word “inqilabs”, but the Oxford dictionary doesn’t. If you have a dictionary that’s commonly used in your game try memorizing a few of those words since the letter “Q” is worth 10 points. If you manage to collect a bonus score all the better. If you’re not playing solo you might even be able to bait another player into challenging you and losing his or her turn.
This is obvious but is still worth mentioning. Create new words from words already built on the board. Turn “truck” into “firetruck” and get credit for all the letters.
Save the blank tiles for a long as you can. The best time to use them is to enable you to play all 7 of your tiles at once so you can collect 50 extra points for doing so.
Play high value letters as soon as you can. Don’t get caught with them in your rack if the game ends unexpectedly. If they are left unused at the end of the game those points get subtracted from your score.
Only exchange tiles if you have no other options. Not only do you lose your turn, but you might not get tiles that are any better. It’s better to at least play a 2-letter word than to exchange tiles. Of course, there are exceptions. If you’re losing badly or winning by a wide margin, then you can afford the loss of a turn hoping to get some better tiles.
If you’re ready to play, or just want a new Scrabble game, here are a few of my favorites. You can go to Amazon and read reviews about them by clicking the links.
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You can also read about playing Monopoly alone by checking this page on my website.