Off-Ramp

Off-Ramp host John Rabe and contributors share thoughts on arts, culture, and life in L.A.

Words With Friends and Its Awful Tie Rule

There are a few things that bug me about Words With Friends, the popular Scrabble®-esque app: The ads, if you're using the free version. The sounds - bloop bloop bloop -- if you don't have the sense to turn them off. And the time it deleted a game my sister and I were in the middle of playing, then sent an error message that made it sound like they'd fixed a problem, instead of screwing up our game.

But on the whole, it's enjoyable and addicting. Just a few minutes ago, I was striving to come from behind to beat Off-Ramp intern Raghu Manavalan. I played BATE/RIVET for 32 points, and was the first to use all my tiles.

Up pops "You lost!" No, I tied. We both wound up with 355 points. I didn't lose or win. Enraged, I emailed Raghu, and he replied with a cut-and-paste from the WWF rulebook.

End Game

  • The game ends when one player plays every tile in his rack, and there are no tiles remaining to draw from.  The game could also end if three successive turns have occurred with no scoring and as long as the score is not zero-zero.
  • After the last tile is played, the opposing player will lose points equal to the sum of the value of his remaining tiles.  This amount is then awarded to the player who placed the last tile.
  • In the case of a tie, the player who had the highest score before the game ended is the winner.

It makes no sense. I can accept a tie. We played equally well, and we can always rematch. But the special tie rule is crap. The highest score before the game ended? The score before the game ended is irrelevant. It's not a rainout. Besides, since I was first to go out, I can make a strong case that I should have won, since in all other instances, the player who goes out first is awarded the point value of the other player's unused tiles. That is to say, the very same rules already give the advantage to the first person to go out.

You can't have it both ways, Words With Friends. Please join me in a crusade to convince WWF to see the error of its ways. Leave a comment below, and Tweet all your friends about this gross miscarriage of justice, and the cause that Off-Ramp is heroically championing.

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