word games, or late evenings with xenon

anyone who has spent even a brief moment with my iPad has asked why i don't have that many game applications installed. on the contrary, i do. just not your usual plants vs. zombies or angry birds that are both a) expensive and b) a colossal waste of time. i have instead quite a few word games: from crosswords to boggle, loop-a-word to scrabble. i much rather prefer to while away my indolent hours thinking (about words, obviously, but also more than that) rather than just mindlessly pressing buttons. so i've downloaded some free games and even purchased a few at the iTunes store for my personal amusement. but of course, sometimes it's also fun to share.

over dinner or tea, xenon and i play

so i've had these "scrabble" evenings with xenon, although we weren't really playing the brand, but a similar game called words with friends™ by newtoy. just like scrabble, a player is given tiles to form words on a board which has special places that award double or triple points for a letter or the entire word. vowels have the lowest points possible, while consonants that seldom appear in most commonly-used words have as much as 10 points. these include Q, Z, and J. i've been playing the online version of this game, challenging random opponents who could be on the other side of the world, awake while i'm in bed, and vice versa. in those instances, games could last a week! it's a pity that newtoy doesn't keep a leaderboard for its players to show one's statistics. i've stamped my class in this game, and have beaten opponents by a margin of more than 250 points. a teenager from a landlocked state in the US was in disbelief at how i trumped him, twice (it's possible to chat with the other player). but admittedly, those games where i win by a mile are kind of boring. i prefer to win (or be beaten) by the smallest difference. i must say that i have been four times humbled by a player named ska* and have also ended 4 games against jstiago in proud defeat. currently i have 6 ongoing games, and i'm about to win 5.

at 108 points, quant (an expert in the use of mathematics and related subjects, particularly in investment management and stock trading), is my best word yet

it's also possible to do a local game (pass and play), and this one i've done with xenon a total of 8 times. the record stands at 4 games apiece. the problem with this, however, is that the opponent gets to see your tiles immediately after his word is accepted. but this isn't the case with the actual scrabble™ game by mattel. i bought this recently when it went on sale for 0.99 USD (from 6.99 USD), and have played with xenon 4 times (3-1, he's leading).

i do practice games against the computer

some people think that scrabble and similar games are all about knowing latinate words. quite the opposite. it's better to know two-letter words that aren't in normal use (like ug, ar, ut, ch, qi, sh), and to know even stranger words that no one uses at all. someone has asked me whether winning a game of scrabble means that you have a rich vocabulary. not necessarily. it only possibly means that you've come across strange words you do not even know the meaning of. as observed by jstiago, my words are elegant. it's because most of the time, i use them in real life. finally, more than being a yardstick for verbal intelligence, it's also a strategy game. while you want to be able to place tiles in such a way that you get more points, you also do not want to "open" that possibility to your opponent.

let's boogie with boggle

so while xenon is leading our scrabble face-off, i've actually crushed him in boggle™. there is a boggle for iPad, but before i purchased that, i nicked its recent incarnation from hobbes and landes, my favorite botique store along with ROX. i've only yielded one game to xenon (and we've played plenty), and that was because i was severely distracted. the new boggle is great because it's compact, won't make you lose any of the letter cubes, and has a built-in timer. so if anyone wants to challenge me for a game of scrabble or boggle, let me know. we could do it the modern way with my iPad, or the traditional way. the choice is yours.