So you’re interested in testing your skills against high-level or championship-level Scrabble AI? Routinely challenging your skills in online Scrabble games is a top-tier practice that any ranked Scrabble player can attest to. The AI plays slightly differently than players which can lead to developing new strategies and skills to win big in future games.
You need to know right from the start that while the Scrabble AI is advanced-level, it is still a program built on the countless number of moves played by millions of online Scrabble players every day. Those plays are then aggregated and weighted against the final scores of their respective games, and only then is the playing language incorporated into AI. All that to say–AI comprises real strategies executed by real people. The game’s player strategies and countermeasures that you are sure to face didn’t come from some lifeless, digital void. This is why playing the AI is like playing the combined braids of many players. The main objective here is challenging and hopefully exceeding the skills you had before. Combining previous games into a single strategy makes the AI a perfect foil for players wanting to up their Scrabble game. Keep this in mind as you decide the best way to approach your game!
Now that we’ve established that you’ll essentially come against human-created playing styles–you need to play slowly and decide what will likely be the first mode of play? Is this a player that draws out your plays and only forms countermeasures after a few turns of observation?? Perhaps someone who utilizes a condensed tile play and draws the game out? The key to playing AI is to remember that, unless given reason to do otherwise, always play broad. In this case, broad means that the AI you’re facing is looking to play the highest scoring move. Most AIs are programmed to play this way. Let’s look at the two play styles that are commonly found in AI Scrabble programs. The two playing styles each require a nuanced approach if you hope to win.
If this is the player you’re coming against, then you’re in (relative) luck as this is the easiest to beat. Almost every Scrabble player who puts in some sweat equity will know that playing the highest scoring move is not always the most sound strategy for an outright win. In some cases, it can even be a hindrance. In this case, all you have to do is play a sound, strategic game by making sure to get the AI to play its highest letters fast and early. You can do this by setting S, T, Q, and P traps all across the board or even utilizing your 2-Letter Words, but, honestly, it would be a surprise if you have to dig too deep into your arsenal for this one.
What does it mean to come against an AI that has heuristics built-in? In its simplest terms, heuristics means that the AI assigns value to the remaining letters to balance against scores played to that point. This is where even top-level players can find themselves up against a wall if they’re not prepared. As always, playing a purposefully deliberate strategy is key to any approach, but in addition to a compelling method, one could also benefit from exploits like Set-Ups. A Set-Up is best described as a move you initially play that you don’t plan to capitalize on until the next turn. Imagine playing FLU–one short of the triple word score–and then keeping the X Plays like this yield high scores in addition to stumping the AI. Now that you have some guidelines on how to best tackle Scrabble’s AI, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t challenge it RIGHT NOW and put your skills to the test!