How to play Grabble

Posted January 15, 2016. 709 words.

Grabble is a fast paced, word game where players take it in turns to flip over tiles, forming words, and stealing words from other players.

I was first taught the game by Samson Danziger, and I am forming this list as from a brief glance, there is little writing on the topic.

Scrabble Tiles

Setup

If missing a set of Scrabble tiles, any similar set of letter tiles will do, or they can bought for a few quid from many online retailers.

  1. (Optional) Decide on a word list in case of disputes.
  2. Every player grabs a scrabble tile from the bag, highest value starts, repeat until one victor.
  3. Spread a set of scrabble tiles, one layer thick on a table.
  4. Turn each tile over so it is face down.

It is recommended that a dot, question mark, or asterisk is added using a permanent marker to one face of each wild-card to reduce confusion when turned over.

Gameplay

Players turn over tiles one at a time trying to form words at least three tiles long, extend existing words, or steal words from an opposing player. When successful, that player is now the next player to turn over a tile.

  1. Words must always be at least three tiles long. Shorter words do not count.
  2. Words can be extended by adding tiles from the centre, combining with other words, or both. When combining words there cannot be any tiles ‘left over’, all tiles must make their way into the new word.
  3. Words can be stolen (or protected) by rearranging their tiles into a new order. For example if a player claims T E A, another player can claim E A T. If the first player is clever they can then claim A T E to claim it back.

The game ends when all tiles are flipped and players agree that no more words can be improved or rearranged. This should not take longer than a couple of minutes.

Players can enter and exit the game at any time, simply watch the game until they can get a word of their own. If they wish to leave, words remain in play and other players can steal the words when possible.

Scoring

Scoring is simple, the first three tiles in a word are worth a combined one point. Any extra tiles are worth an extra one point. For example:

  • A T: Illegal word, 0 points
  • A T E: 1 point
  • T E A - M: 2 points

And so on.

Extra Rules

While the above is enough to get started, there are extra rules that may be useful for competitive play:

  1. Players cannot add S to the end of a word. So if a player has M A T players cannot add S to the end, but they can change it to M A S T.
  2. If deemed necessary the group can chose to extend the rule to Y, E R / R E, and / or E D / D E.
  3. A time limit may be imposed per turn to ensure a speedy game. It is recommended to be no longer than a minute, and no shorter than 5 seconds.

Strategies

  • Try building a mental list mapping possible tiles to words to can steal or protect.
  • Make special note of words to add Y, R E, E R, D E, E D, and so on too.
  • If there is a wild-card hidden, ensure to have a plan for when it is inevitably turned over.
  • Practise makes perfect. Did you know D J I N N can be spelt four ways?
  • But most importantly have fun!

Notes

I really enjoy Grabble, even if I cannot play it that often. If you decide to play it or have a suggestion, leave a comment, I would love to hear people enjoying it too.

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