Upwords, recently renamed "Scrabble Upwords" by Hasbro, is a board game invented by Elliot Rudell and originally published by the Milton Bradley Company (which is now a division of Hasbro). The game is similar to Scrabble, except that letters can be stacked on top of other words to create new words. The higher the stack of letters, the more points are scored. This often makes words built in later turns of the game more valuable than earlier words, increasing play intensity.
The game is available in about twenty languages. Hasbro has recently licensed electronic marketing rights to Microsoft, making it available electronically for the first time since AOL bought Games.com and withdrew the game.
There have been national tournaments played in Hungary and Turkey.
Players draw letter tiles until they have seven tiles on their racks. The first player forms a word that covers one or more of the central squares. After forming a word, the player draws more tiles to replenish their rack. Play continues to the left.
Subsequent plays may put tiles on the board and on top of tiles already played, so long as all words formed are found in the dictionary being used. For example, if a word on the board is CATER, a player on a subsequent turn could put a B and E in front of CATER and then put an L on top of the C and a D on top of the R to build BELATED.
Upwords resembles Scrabble in a few ways. Each player has seven letters and tries to place these down on the board to make words that link up with other words on the grid, like a crossword puzzle, so that they score as many points as possible. The board is smaller, and so the game is quicker, and it doesn't have special squares such as "triple word scores" and "double letter scores" that require additional scoring calculations.
The biggest difference from Scrabble is that once a word has been placed, any player may then alter it to another word, by placing tiles over some of the letters. For example, the word CAT could have an H placed over it to make HAT, or an H over the C and an E on the end to make HATE. If a player can alter two words at once, he scores both, so if the word CAT were already played, then an H could be placed over the C, and then A, R, and P added to make both HAT and HARP. The potential for clever play is quite great and most games include in them some turn in which a player makes three interesting words all at once to score a lot of points
Players score one point for every tile in their word, and for each tile under their word. If the word is entirely on the first board layer, they instead score two points per letter.
Since Upwords lacks bonus squares found in Scrabble, players are not allowed to pluralize existing words by simply adding an "s" on the end of a word and ending their turn. If a word is pluralized by the addition of an "s", the "s" must be part of another complete word that was placed on the board. This rule prevents players from capitalizing too much on other players' words.
Originally, Upwords was played on an 8×8 square board and 64 tiles, which many players felt to be cramped relative to Scrabble's 15×15 grid. Newer Upwords sets come with a 10×10 square board and 100 tiles, which allows for much more comfortable play. The most recent versions also come with a set of 81 numbered tiles to allow for playing/solving Sudoku puzzles.
Unlike Scrabble, which is controlled by competitors Hasbro (in the U.S.) and Mattel (in Europe), Upwords is at this time solely under the worldwide licensing control of Hasbro, making it the only such worldwide word game property that can be Internet-marketed and Internet-offered with complete licensing control.
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