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The New Version of Scrabble on Facebook (2013) - the controversial changes
The new version of Scrabble for Facebook was rolled out in early summer 2013. Although the rules and basic principle of the game remain the same, the game is set up quite differently and has some new features. For better or for worse, here is the lowdown on the new version of the game.
For instructions on how to play the game the full rules are under the options menu of the game, or you could read my earlier hub (see link to the right) on how to play in the previous version of the app. Although the layout and tools are different in the new version, all the same rules, as well as hints and tips for better play still apply!
The old version - read this for instructions on how to play the game, as well as useful hints and tips
- How to play Scrabble on Facebook (old version)
Useful hints and tips for playing the classic word game Scrabble on Facebook, the social networking site.
What's new in Scrabble 2013?
If you had the previous version of Scrabble on your Facebook account then your app will be automatically updated. It is being rolled out across the board (pardon the pun), so you may have it already, or it could be on its way. You won't get much warning that it's about to happen, and any games that you were in the middle of will just disappear, along with all of your old game stats - this is a major reason why seasoned players of the old version are disappointed, they had all their high scores and game ranking wiped out, and have to start again from scratch.
The default appearance of the board is quite different, the classic board view has been replaced with a more simple board and modern style letters. However, there are customisation options that you might like to try out, some of which are free, and others that cost tokens. To turn off the labelling of the coloured squares (TW, DL etc) go to the Options menu and untick the box that says Display Bonus Squares. There are also choices of board colour; to go back to the colouring used in the original version you can choose the Legacy board, which is free. I have tried these options but every time I log out the settings have been lost when I log back in. Perhaps this will be fixed in time.
You can choose to play with one of your Facebook friends (if they have the app,) or against a random opponent chosen by the game server. In the old version you could choose from a list of available opponents, and base your choice on their game stats, or pick people you knew, but now you have no choice. This does have the advantage of filtering out any unsavory or predatory players that often popped up in the old version. The privacy of players is also protected by this change, as in the old version opponents could click on your player profile, and would get taken to your Facebook page where your Facebook settings were the only thing that could protect your privacy. This is definitely a plus.
Game length is now an open ended format where there is no time limit on turns. You cannot choose the length of the game any more (before you had a choice of 2 minute, 5 minute, 1 hour or 1 day turns). The exception to this is that if your opponent does not take their turn within 48 hours you will have the option to forfeit them, and will automatically win the game. The plus side of this is that you will not be penalised for being 5 minutes late taking your turn because you had a phone call or your network went down. The downside is that you may spend long hours waiting for your opponent to take their turn, when you only wanted a quick game in your lunchbreak!
The new lack of choice extends to difficulty level and number of players - these are fixed at 2 player games for random opponents and everybody is ranked equally when you start using the app. You can apparently choose to play 3 or 4 player games with your friends. It will be interesting to see if any more choices become available as the app matures, and whether you will be pitted against random players of equal ranking as time goes on.
I don't want to rant on about what's not available any more - it always takes a bit of getting used to something new, and there are some new features that are a bonus.
There is a choice of dictionaries to use, you can choose from the official Scrabble dictionary, the Collins Scrabble dictionary or from certain foreign language dictionaries. You must of course be playing somebody who is using the same dictionary, for the sake of fairness. The unfortunate thing is that the dictionaries only tell you if your word is valid, but do not give you a definition of the word, which was a very useful educational feature in the old version - you could always learn something new, and must have been useful for people who were learning English.
A chat feature is still included, much the same, except your chat appears in speech bubbles with a choice of smileys.
The options include some customisation - as mentioned earlier some of this is free while other things will cost you if you think it is worth it! You can change sounds, colours, letter style and the level of advertising.
At the bottom of the screen the app will show your ranking against your friends, and gives you the option to invite your friends to play.
What's your verdict?
Do you prefer the new version of Scrabble for Facebook?
You may love it or hate it. I was not impressed by my first attempt at using it, there were a several technical glitches, which is to be expected by any new software, but I feel that a lot of gameplay choices have been taken away from the player. After a few games I am now getting used to the format and where to find things. It is usable, but a lot of the intelligence has been taken out of the gameplay, and it is a less satisfying experience.
The only advantage that I can see from the new format is much greater privacy protection for the player, and a reduced risk of being preyed upon by undesirable users.
However, this new way of finding opponents means that a whole community of players who had spent years building up friendships and communities no longer have access to this, and are no longer able to find their regular opponents. I can understand why they are upset.
Try it out and see what you think, then come back and vote in my poll or leave a comment - I would love to know what other users make of it.