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I’ve scaled back my online activities a little, but I’m still playing a few games of Words With Friends. Gotta keep the mind sharp! Yeah right… for anyone who’s read my Babble of Scrabble post (or simply played me in a game) knows that I suck at Scrabble-ish games big time.
So I have to enjoy my minor victories when they happen… like last night when I scored a whopping 114 in a single move against my good friend, Cletta. I’d say that I’m sorry… but you know that I’m not. And believe me.. if there’s anyone who can blow a 111 point lead, it’s me! Check back in with me at the end of the week, and I’ll probably have deleted my Words With Friends account too! 🙂
[Update 9 Apr 12: Zynga has come a long way with stabilizing Hanging With Friends, and the issues mentioned in this post are largely a thing of the past. The game is still highly addictive though!]
Have you tried Zynga‘s latest online game yet? It’s called Hanging With Friends, and comes from the same family of games as Chess With Friends, and Words With Friends. Haven’t tried it yet? What’s wrong with you?!
Hanging With Friends is a new take on the old Hangman game. It’s a turn-based game designed for iOS users, so if you’re using Android, you’re outta luck (for the time being… maybe in the future that will change). The idea behind the game is a simple one… using the letters you are given, create a word that your opponent will then have to guess. The number of guesses that your opponent has for that word will depend on the length of the word you create. Longer words allow for fewer guesses, presumably because it’s easier to figure out longer words because there are fewer combinations. The minimum word length is 4, and it’s amazing how many combinations of 4 letter words you can come up with!
Oh, did I mentioned that while you’re doing this, your avatar is floating above hot lava with helium filled balloons? No pressure! You can watch as his/her face changes with each successful or unsuccessful guess. If your opponent does not guess a word, one of their balloons pops. When the last balloon pops, it’s into the lava they go! Yeah.. it’s fun!
Luckily for those of us with poor guessing skills, there are lifelines that you can use to help you. These can be one of three forms:
You can play against your friends, or set up a random opponent. There’s no shortage of people out there to play against, so I’ve never had a problem finding an opponent. And despite how easy it would be to cheat in this game, I have only once resigned against an opponent I was convinced was not coming up with words on his own.
So if Hanging With Friends sounds too good to be true… it just might be. The game is buggy as hell, and feels very much like a product still in beta development. I can accept that software will always have glitches that need to be ironed out, but Hanging With Friends is full of problems.
So why am I still playing? Well… if the game wasn’t as fun as it is, I would have removed it from my iPad a long time ago. I’m hoping that Zynga continues to work through the issues, and release updates that address these problems. So far the game has been getting better, but it’s still a long way from where it needs to be before I consider it to be stable.
Hanging With Friends comes in 2 versions: ad-supported, and paid. I found the ads to be annoying, so I shelled out the $2.99 for an ad-free experience. Was it worth it? Reluctantly, yes. Even with the laundry list of things that need improvement, I still like the game enough to play it without the interruption of advertisements. Would I recommend that you run out and buy this app? Hmmm… no. Try the free version, though! Give it an honest shake, and then decide whether you want to part with your hard-earned cash.
And don’t forget to look me up online. I go by the username “Dunnik” and am always looking for worthy opponents to drop into the lava![Update 9 Apr 12]
On a related note, I have noticed a real lack of resources and strategies for Hanging With Friends. Sure you can find an article here or there, but nothing comprehensive. I’ve decided to take it upon myself to change that! I am getting close to unveiling my ultimate Hanging With Friends membership site, and offering people the chance now to sign up for instant notification when this goes live. A few quick notes about the membership site:
As everyone must know by now, I’ve been feeling under the weather for a few weeks. I’m a man, so I need to whine constantly and remind people of how crappy I feel, in a vain attempt to generate a little sympathy from anyone who hasn’t blocked me out by now. Yup, I get it. But this is freaky!
I opened up one of my Words With Friends (Scrabble for the iPhone) games today, and was blown away by what I saw! The letters that I have to use are at the bottom of the screen, and they’re totally random. There’s no way to manually manipulate those letters. [edited: It was pointed out to me that you CAN manually move the letters around by simply dragging them with your finger… I guess I never tried to do that before. Sorry…] You can shake the iPhone and the computer will “shuffle” them randomly, but there’s no way to manually move the letters around. I didn’t shuffle the letters at all. This is the way it looked as soon as I opened the game!
Now this isn’t the first time that there has been a word visible within the mix of letters, but this is by far the freakiest I’ve ever seen!
The picture was taken with another cellphone is is a little blurry, but you get the idea!
I haven’t been able to make a move in that game yet… it’s just too freaky, and I don’t want to ruin it!
I’ve discovered something over the last couple of weeks. I suck at Scrabble. No, I mean I REALLY suck at Scrabble. I generally consider myself to be a fairly good writer, with a decent vocabulary, but when it comes to visualizing patterns of words from the mumble jumble of tiled letters… I have a lot of difficulty with that. I’m actually quite happy if I can manage to construct a 4 letter word, while my opponents are regularly forming words of 5, 6 or more letters in length. I suspect that the side of my brain that also makes it difficult for me to read a map, make any sense out of blue prints, or even guess with any accuracy the size of container to use for leftovers is probably to blame for my limited ability to see words within all those tiled letters.
Maybe it’s something that you can learn, but after nearly 38 years I’m prepared to admit that I’m probably a lost cause. My ex was always far better at packing than I ever was. My co-workers can glance at the building schematic and know instantly which fire alarm sensor is in trouble. More than once I’ve had to pour leftovers from one container into another because I had guessed wrong. And don’t even bother to ask me to assemble something from directions!
I can remember writing the “idiot test” for my job back in 2000. If I remember correctly, it was probably 200-250 questions covering a wide array of topics, with an insanely short amount of time to complete it. There were math problems, reading for comprehension questions, letter or word pattern questions, and then the dreaded “What shape would this box look like if it was unfolded?” questions, with one or more sides shaded, and then 4 possible answers. I skipped those. I didn’t even bother to attempt those because they would only slow me down, which was probably the best answer. Recognize your strengths and weaknesses, and move on accordingly. Oh, I got the job.
I’m painfully reminded of that weakness as I look at my current Scrabble record: 1 win, 7 losses. In most instances the losses aren’t even close. I’ve given up blaming the luck of the tiles. There is a consistent pattern forming… I’m good at many things…
Scrabble ain’t one of them!