MDA: Scrabble

I grew up playing Scrabble with my friends and family whenever we had the chance—we used to play the iPad version on road trips and have spent so hours during winter vacations with whatever set we could find in our hotel. I think Scrabble works especially well when the audience has the same general level of vocabulary so that the game is well matched. However, I can think of a few specific mechanics that create fun dynamics.

  1. Randomly-drawn tiles: No matter what Scrabble set you are using, you already start with 7 random letters, which means that no one has an automatic advantage. It creates an exciting and constantly changing dynamic of who is the “luckiest” player in the game, as once you play your high-value tiles, you need to replace them with a new set.
  2. Tile scoring: I think the fact that letters that appear less frequently in the English language are scored much higher creates a dynamic of forced creativity. Players need to take time to think about the words they play, and because no one can see each other’s tiles, you need to guess who has the highest scoring tiles, and where on the board they may want to place their tiles.
  3. Triple- and double-word scores: The existence of special tiles across the board creates a need for strategy and planning when placing words down: it’s not just enough to connect to existing words; you need to try and claim special tiles before other players while still maximizing their potential. In my opinion, this is a huge contributor to why Scrabble is competitive and makes other player’s turns interesting to you. Every player is invested in each other’s next move, and you can never perfectly plan out what you want to do.
  4. Every game is different: Unlike Monopoly, no game of Scrabble starts with the same board. You are given different tiles each time you begin, and the placement of the first word is rarely identical from game to game. This means Scrabble has a fresh dynamic: you can play it over and over and never get bored.


About the author

Hi! I'm Anooshree (she/her), a senior from San Jose, CA! My favorite game of all time is probably an escape room I did in Portland, OR, but I have and continue to love playing Settlers of Catan :)

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