There are lots of iOS games I love, but Letterpress is far and away the one that has kept my interest the longest. It launched on October 22, 2012 and I've been playing it ever since. Recently Brent Simmons posted his Letterpress rules, prompting Daniel Jalkut to post his. I only have a couple generally applicable rules:
- No cheating! No cheat apps, no looking up words during play. Of course, you can work on your vocabulary offline as much as you want.*
- After a win, pass the first move on the rematch. There's an advantage to going first.
Otherwise, when playing strangers, anything goes. But I have some other house rules I sometimes set up with regular opponents:
- If you reach 50 moves, the game is a tie. Sometimes the game devolves into trench warfare. Some like this, some don't.
- Word variations that are the same length or shorter than any previously played works are off limits. So if somebody plays STOPPER you can't play STOPPED, but you can play STOPPING or STOPPERS. This can get hard to manage if you aren't also playing the 50-word cap.
- Tournament format: a win when you go first is worth nothing, a win when your opponent goes first is a break, and is worth one point. Play to five. Loser of previous game goes first.
As for strategy, definitely read Ted Landau's posts, Win at Letterpress: Start Second, Finish First, Exceptional Letterpress Strategy, and Stealing Wins at Letterpress. (Cool thing, I'm the second victim in the games detailed in "Stealing Wins"! I've played Ted five times now, going first each time, and I've lost 'em all.)
Anyway, those are terrific, and I don't actually have too much to add. He even covers the "trench warfare" scenario (he calls it see-saws). A few additional things I do:
- When the game starts I don't always try to take the easiest corner to lock up, I try to figure out where the hardest area of the board is, and then I try to take the opposite side. So if the NE corner has bad letters, I'll focus on securing the SW, even if the NW and SE are temptingly easy. If the bad letters are centrally located in the north, I'll try to lock down the south. If I'm right, and the hard tiles are what's open at the end of the game, and I've managed to lock down the opposite, I'll be able to secure a larger base than my opponent in the endgame.
- If my opponent goes first and it seems like they are going after the corner I want (so the corner opposite the badlands), I'll often emphasize dislodging them rather than trying to lock up a different corner (although doing both simultaneously is ideal). I'll try to lock up a tile as close as possible to the desired high ground and build from there.
- Scan the board for suffixes at the beginning of the game! See if any can be compounded. I first started playing Daniel when he tweeted that he had ended a game with JOVIALNESSES and I was like, "ooh, I gotta play that guy."
- I often find that if I content myself with merely flipping my opponents tiles, no matter how big a swing that seems to produce, my advantage will wither away. If you're ahead, you have to keep taking new tiles in addition to flipping. I find when I'm not aggressive about this, I end up in a trench (or worse). Sometimes a move that just flips is too good to pass up, but it's easy to get complacent.
- Take your time, a better word than what you were considering will come to you.
Anyway, Letterpress, great game! Check it out if you don't already play.
* I've only been learning various Q-no-U words as I've been burned by them, but if you want to be more proactive about it, here are all the Q-no-U words in the Letterpress dictionary. No fair looking at this list during a game, though!
Faqir, Faqirs, Fiqh, Fiqhs, Inqilab, Inqilabs, Mbaqanga, Mbaqangas, Niqab, Niqabs, Qabala, Qabalah, Qabalahs, Qabalas, Qabalism, Qabalisms, Qabalist, Qabalistic, Qabalists, Qadi, Qadis, Qaid, Qaids, Qaimaqam, Qaimaqams, Qalamdan, Qalamdans, Qanat, Qanats, Qasida, Qasidas, Qat, Qats, Qawwal, Qawwali, Qawwalis, Qawwals, Qi, Qibla, Qiblas, Qigong, Qigongs, Qin, Qindar, Qindarka, Qindars, Qins, Qintar, Qintarka, Qintars, Qis, Qoph, Qophs, Qorma, Qormas, Qwerties, Qwerty, Qwertys, Sheqalim, Sheqel, Sheqels, Talaq, Talaqs, Tranq, Tranqs, Tsaddiq, Tsaddiqim, Tsaddiqs, Tzaddiq, Tzaddiqim, Tzaddiqs, Waqf, Waqfs, Yaqona, Yaqonas
If your opponents didn't think you were cheating before, they certainly will after you roll out TSADDIQIM!