In these variations on scrabble, no board is used. The tiles are played on a table or other flat surface. Unlike traditional scrabble, a new word or set does not have to be built on an existing word or set. It can be, but it’s not required. Each player starts their turn with a collection of seven tiles.
A round is ten turns per player, or when one player is able to use all of their tiles in a single turn. The player using all of their tiles at once gets a twenty-five point bonus. You can play as many rounds as you choose in a game.
Ultimate Scrabble is played with four sets of scrabble tiles. Each set is a different color. That means you can have as many players as you have room for. With a large number of players, a two-minute time limit per turn is recommended. This variation of scrabble can even be played by children too young to read. When it’s your turn to play there are seven ways to score in Ultimate Scrabble:
- make a word of at least three letters
- add at least one new tile to an existing word to make a new word
- make a set of at least three tiles with the same letters
- add at least one tile to an existing letter set
- make a set of at least three tiles with the same color
- add at least one tile to an existing color set
- manipulate existing words and sets, adding at least one tile from your collection
Children young enough to identify tiles of the same color can play. This way you can even have the little kids join the fun for family game night.
Score is kept on a per turn basis. You score points on the tiles in the words or sets created containing tiles from your collection. You can create words or sets directly from your tile collection, or by manipulating existing words or sets. Even if you only add to an existing word or set, you score points on the all the tiles in the word or set. One advantage of building on an existing word or set is taking advantage of tiles with big values, like the Q.
Scoring is dependent on what kind of play you make. If you play based on tile color you score the points on the tiles. If you play with matching letters you score two times the points on the tiles. If you play using a word you score three times the points on the tiles. When playing with little kids, you can adjust the scoring to make it competitive.
In Ultimate Scrabble players are allowed to manipulate the words and sets that are already in play. This is an important aspect of the game. The key is you have to use at least one tile from your collection to take a turn and score points. If you can’t play a tile from your collection you have to pass. The rules for manipulation are simple.
- You must leave valid words or sets on the table when you’re done.
- You must play at least one tile from your tile collection.
For example, the word pit is on the table and you have the letters s, r, and e in your tile collection. You can take the letters from pit and letters from your tile collection to make the word stripe. Your score is three times the point value of the letters in the new word stripe – 24.
For another example, you have two red tiles in your collection. The word run is on the table and the letters in run are red, green, and blue. There are also sets of green and blue tiles on the table. You can take the word run, add the green and blue tiles to their respective sets, and create a new set of red tiles with your two red tiles and the red tile from the word run. Your score is the point value of the tiles in the new red color set – 4.
In another example, there is a set of seven green tiles and the letters j, c, s, and t are in tile collection. You can take those letters, leaving a set of three green tiles, and use letters from your collection to make the word justice. Your score is the three times the point value of the letters in justice – 48.
After each turn in a round, except the last, a player draws the number of tiles they played from the tile bag to replenish their collection of seven tiles. When a round is over each person subtracts the points from the tiles still in their collection, from their accumulated score. The high score wins.
Battle scrabble is a lot like Ultimate Scrabble. In Battle Scrabble each player has their own collection of words and sets in their own playing space. Players in Battle Scrabble can manipulate within their own playing space, but they can’t play on or manipulate other players words and sets, with one important exception. Players in Battle Scrabble can attack another player’s word or set if it’s destroyed completely. That means that a word or set from another player’s space must be completely destroyed to make words or sets in the current player’s space, and at least one tile from the player’s tile collection must be used.
Scoring in battle scrabble is only done when a round is complete. The score from the tiles in each player’s space is totaled using the scoring rules for words and sets. Then the points from the remaining tiles in their collection are subtracted from the total. The high score wins.