The uses of a V

I'm playing Scrabulous again with Mary Anne. Good words so far: she led with TILDE, I countered with PORCINI, she played AEGIS. At which point I was just about ready to resign; how can you top AEGIS?

But then I looked at my tiles and saw that I had a host of possibilities.

Only most of them didn't quite work.

I was one tile off from being able to play each of the following:

  • VICARIOUS (which would've spanned two triple-word scores! Of course, it would've required me to have eight tiles in hand--details, details)

I got very excited when I saw that I could use all seven of my tiles to play VICEROIS, which I attempted to do--and then the game told me it was an illegal play. Which is just as well, because that spelling turns out to be wrong. Maybe "viceroi" is French? Maybe I just made it up? I had managed to convince myself I'd seen it somewhere, but maybe not.

At any rate, though I'm glad the game didn't let me play it, I'm confused--I've seen words played in Scrabulous which I thought weren't in their official dictionary; I thought the game left it up to the players to play illegal words if they wanted to (and to the other players to then challenge them).

. . . But now I see that the main words that I had assumed weren't in the official dictionary--PUJA and TROGS, from two other games--are in fact in the official dictionary. I easily forget that the official dictionary does not match my dictionary of choice, MW11, which doesn't list either of those--although MW3 unabridged lists both. Turns out "trogs" is a chiefly Scottish synonym for "troth." (As in "I pledge thee my trogs." But the word sounds too informal and slangy for that. Maybe "Yo, dude, I pledge thee my trogs." Or "Och, lassie, ye have me feckin' trogs.") So I guess the game does prevent illegal words. Knowing that would've saved me a lot of trepidation over various words whose spellings I was unsure of. (In my ideal game, if I were unsure of a spelling I would just look it up, but various people had indicated to me that they considered that to be cheating, so I don't do it. But apparently the game will do it for me automatically.)

In the end, I was faced with a challenge to my Scrabble principles. I had a choice: I could play VIZIERS, a great word, for 11 points; or I could play VICARS, an okay word, across a triple-word-score square for 36 points.

I am (occasionally) weak; I picked the triple-word option. Partly because I don't think I've ever played a triple-word-score square in Scrabulous (and maybe never in Scrabble); partly because that's a big point difference; partly because Mary Anne whomped me in the last game, 345 to 205 (and did so partly by hitting six of the eight triple word squares); partly because VICARS isn't bad, just not as cool as VIZIERS.

Ah, well. Occasional pragmatism is probably a good stretching exercise for idealists. (How's that for a rationalization?)

4 Responses to “The uses of a V”

  1. cj

    Ooo! Scrabulous looks pretty spiffy. I will have to give it a try. There aren’t many things that intimidate me, but word games against real people is kind hard on my brian…er…brain : ), I prefer bots just because then I don’t have to worry about the other “player” having a boring time because of constantly having to keep an eye on me and make sure I don’t accidentally cheat. I don’t feel you chickened out with “vicars”, even if “viziers” is a more interesting word.

  2. Jackie M.

    I played blintzes last week! BLINTZES. For a triple-word score and a bingo!

  3. Jed

    CJ: I play Scrabulous via Facebook, as a multi-human-player game. But it looks like has a version you can play against a bot. …Are you on Facebook?

    Jackie: Wow! I bow to your superior Scrabble fu. That’s way cool. (…In case this isn’t clear, that’s sincere, not sarcastic; I’m impressed.)

  4. Shmuel

    “So I guess the game does prevent illegal words. Knowing that would’ve saved me a lot of trepidation over various words whose spellings I was unsure of.”

    Yup. When you set up a game, there are two sets of options. The first is the dictionary (TWL or SOWPODS; I prefer the latter, which is more catholic); the second is Regular vs. Challenge. In the former, it automatically checks words against the selected dictionary, and won’t let you play anything that’s not in it. The latter lets you play whatever alleged words you want, and the usual rules apply for challenges by your opponent.


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