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Scrabble Trickster

Scrabble Trickster - Word Legality Twists and Ire of Scrabble Purists

In its long history, Scrabble has always appealed to those with proficient vocabularies, who studied and sought to perfect the proper use of language. It was usually not the choice game of anyone who was hesitant to expand and learn new and more challenging words. Scrabble was never changing in its rules for the legal words that could be used in the game.

In 2010, Mattel decided to offer a new wrinkle that outraged hordes of Scrabble "purists." The introduction of company and celebrity names as acceptable words changed the playing field, and for many players this meant that the sanctity of the game was breeched. This not only added many more possible letter configurations that could be used; it made it more difficult to challenge any word.

The simple action of checking to find the legality of a word is lost when words that may or may not be in the dictionary can be placed upon the board. Consider celebrities who have unique names. They would not be listed in a dictionary reference, nor would company or product names that represent invented arrangements of letters.

The idea behind the concept was to get the youth of the world interested in the 60-year old board game of Scrabble. Contemplating that the use of their favorite drinks, movie stars, or sports heroes would make the game more appealing for the younger crowd might be true. Maybe the Scrabble community has been stuck in the past for too long and needs to come into the 21st century.

Another change that is even more compelling is the way the game is played under the new format. Words may be spelled backwards, upwards, and, against all that is "Scrabble holy," even disconnected from other words. The title of this new game is Scrabble Trickster, and it seems to be justly named.

Its release in the UK and Europe may never progress across the waters to the U.S. except in the black market. Hasbro owns the rights to Scrabble in both the states and Canada, and they haven't shown any interest in making the change.

If the idea was to infiltrate the solemn world of Scrabble for everyone, the outcry might be much worse than it is. Even Mattel does not intend to make only the maverick version of the game. They will still produce the original along with the new version, and the plan might add large numbers to the Scrabble community, whether they are studious in vocabulary or not.

Does this cheapen Scrabble? A line from the promotional material for Trickster reads like this, "Whether you're a Scrabble newcomer or an expert, use Trick cards to level the playing field by breaking the rules of Scrabble. Steal your opponent's high score, make them lose their turn, even take advantage of a Triple Word score by playing a word ANYWHERE on the board!"

This seems to completely change the values of the competition. It is not about winning because of knowledge, but taking advantage of a situation. Even in a limited release, does this really transmit a message we want to send?

Scrabble is an educational game for people who want to better their vocabularies and use the knowledge they have assembled. Trickster doesn't represent anything like that, because there are no real limits as to what can be placed on the board and no real way to determine if a "word" meets the criteria for legality. It would be impossible to publish a dictionary that contained all the imitation words that can be used in Trickster.

As previously mentioned, one good thing that might come from this offshoot version might be an upsurge of younger people developing some desire to play real Scrabble. It is doubtful that the creators of this game had an auspicious goal in mind for the masses when they dreamed up Trickster. Their thoughts were to create a stir and reap a quick profit in the process. They have succeeded in agitation if nothing else.

If the game had been named simply "Trickster," no one would have been outraged, and it might have been considered training wheels for the real game. Perhaps, before the first anniversary of the new game's release, it won't have as much impact on Scrabble as some believe. Only time will tell.

Copyright 2013 BattleLine Games LLC.