Tuesday, August 16, 2022
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How to Win at Words with Friends 2 – Lightning Round

The Lightning round is a new addition bought in with Words with Friends 2, and it brings a massive change in gameplay. Seasoned players have to adjust to team tactics and for some this has been tricky (at least, judging by my teammates every time I’ve played!)

In the Lightning round, you work with a team of five others to reach 750 points before the opposing team. Importantly, you play completely independently of the other team, meaning every word you play needs to help out your teammates – no defensive plays here!

1.     Set up plays for your teammates

This is probably the most useful tactic if you have teammates who are vaguely competent players. However, you really don’t know whether they are any good or not until you are playing – so you may as well assume they are Words with Friends pros ready to capitalise on the amazing opportunities you are about to open up for them.

Essentially, you want to create chance for your teammates to:

  • Extend off your words, especially when they can extend onto a bonus tile;
  • Hit bonus tiles, especially if they can hit multiple tiles in one go;
  • Play all their tiles

This means that sometimes you’re going to have to deliberately sacrifice you personal score.

Take the below example. The current player has played ‘CANE’ (8 POINTS). They could have played ‘CANED’ (20 POINTS). However, by leaving the ‘D’ for the next player they have set up a high scoring opportunity. Now, the next player can play ‘CANED’ (10 POINTS) + a word containing ‘D’. In fact, if the next player plays a 5-letter word beginning or ending in ‘D’, they will hit TWO double word score bonus tiles! Let’s add these up in practice:

Player One plays ‘CANED’

P1: CANED = 20

P2: DENSE = 14

Total = 34 points

Player One plays ‘CANE’

P1: CANE = 8

P2: CANED = 20

DENSE =28

Total = 56 points

2.     Use ‘S’, ‘D’, and ‘R’ wisely

Just as in normal gameplay for Words with Friends, the S, D and R are some of the most powerful tiles on your rack – this is because they can be used to extend off of your teammates words and pick up lots of more points for your team – just like in the first example.

3.     Play fast!

The reason the Lightning round is so named is because you need to play with lightning speed. There’s no point spending ages to try every combination or to try and find that 7-letter word, because the whole time the opposing team are playing words and beating you to it. An 100-pointer is only worth it if the other team haven’t managed to score at least that much in the time you spent coming up with it.

To help you play quickly and still score high, keep an eye out for opportunities your teammates have set up for you, bonus tiles that you can play to and high scoring tiles on your rack – more often than not, there will be an obvious play and if not – swap your tiles or pass and get on with the game.

4.     Open up the board – don’t play defensively!

Playing defensively can be a tricky habit to get out of – after all, in normal gameplay, it’s an essential tactic to prevent your opponent hitting bonus tiles.

However, in Lightning round, you have to take a completely opposite approach and actively work to open up the board for your teammates.

Critically you need to reach those all important bonus tiles out at the edges – and luckily, that can be easily done with just two words, because the board is in Lightning round is smaller.

5.     Hit the bonus tile combos

As with normal gameplay, hitting the bonus tile combos is a quick way to an easy win. In Lightning round, the board layout is slightly smaller and that means lots of opportunities for bonus combos!

Head straight to the outside edges to pick up triple letter/triple word bonus combos.

If you enjoy Words with Friends 2 you should take a look at word scramble games from coolmathgames.com a free games site

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How to Win at Words with Friends 2 Without Paying Any Money

Ever been confronted with a seemingly unbeatable opponent in Words with Friends 2? Someone who always seems to place exactly the right tiles in exactly the right place on every single move…

You might assume that the best way to win a game of Words with Friends 2 is to create the longest words – but this is far from true. As you’ve seen in tactics one and two, the trick to winning is to maximise your score and minimise your opponents, and it has as much to do with mathematics and strategy as it does with words.

The truth is there are two key reasons that some players excel in Words with Friends 2:

  1. They know the tactics we’re about to explain in this post
  2. They are cheating!

So, without further ado – here is how to win at Words with Friends 2!

Tactic 1

Play to the triple letter and triple word scores

The key to winning Words with Friends is to maximise the words you play on triple letter and triple word scores. These tiles have the power to boost your score massively, and when played together, can unlock huge scores, even with relatively mundane words.

Powerful Words with Friends players consistently create, or trick their opponents into creating, opportunities to play the triple letter and triple word scores in one go.

A perfect opportunity to play the triple letter and triple word combo AND a two letter word across the ‘E’ in ‘MAGE’
  • Prevent opponents from playing triple letter and triple words scores – take defensive action when making your play
  • Trick your opponent into opening up a triple letter and triple word combo opportunity

Tactic 2

Extend your opponent’s words

The most valuable tiles in the game are the letter which let you extend your opponent’s words – ‘S’, ‘R’, ‘D’ and the blank tiles.

When extending their words you essentially get the scores for two words – the word you have extended and the word you play off of it – maximising your score for the turn and often opening up the board.

Remember, Word with Friends 2 allows plurals and different tense of the verb. You can also use rarer letters to extend words – for example by adding a ‘F’ to ‘END’ to create ‘FEND’

This tactic is even more effective when you can extend their word onto a scoring tile, which you’ll receive the benefit of twice!

This straightforward word extension both boosts the player’s score – with another ‘S’ they could have created ‘SHES’ and ‘TIES’ as well!
  • Save ‘S’ tiles for opportunities to extend your opponent’s words
  • Prevent opponents from extending your words by choosing words that are difficult or impossible to extend
  • Maximise scores by extending onto a scoring tile

Tactic 3

Use two letter words wisely

Think of the humble two letter word as your best friend in Words with Friends 2. Two letter words are essential to open up gaps on the board, thwart your opponents attempts to stop you hitting certain tiles and maximise your score.

The range of two letter words you can play go beyond ‘it’, ‘to’ and ‘so’ – there are loads of combinations, and the best players use the full range to their advantage.

Two letter words are commonly used to play a side-by-side word – and there’s no limit on how many tiles you end up playing side-by-side. And don’t forget, you get scores for both your word, and the two letter words you have played.

There are some powerful two letter word combinations which can score up to 11 points by themselves: ja, jo, qi, za, xu – all are accepted by Words with Friends and can boost your score!

Words with Friends Two Letter Words
This early two-letter word combo means the players ends up scoring for three words – they could have boosted this further by continuing the play across the ‘TEM’ of ‘TOTEM’ with the right letters.
  • Play words side-by-side using two letter words
  • Test different two letter word combinations, even if you don’t think they are a real word
  • Remember the high scoring two letter words, especially when getting rid of your last few tiles towards the end of the game.

Tactic 4

Bigger isn’t always better

It’s tempting to play to longest word you can in order to maximise you points – especially if you’ve only got low scoring tiles on your rack. But unless you’re playing all 7 tiles (which gets you a decent 35 point bonus) it can often cause more harm than good.

You see, your score is only as good as your opponent’s next score, and long words can create opportunities for your opponent to hit scoring tiles to boost their own score.

Instead, it can be better to play defensively and block your opponent from reaching bonus tiles or otherwise creating a higher scoring word (such as by extending your word)

The long word here ‘DODGEMS’ is well played, as it extends ‘FLEW’ and gets the 35 point bonus for using all 7 tiles on their rack! However, it does open up opportunities for their opponent to play onto the high scoring tiles – but this is risk measured against the 87 points they have managed to score with this word.
  • Play defensively – the longest word isn’t always best.
  • Your score is only as good as your opponent’s next score – close opportunities for them to hit bonus tiles.

Have we missed any tricks you use to win at Words with Friends 2? Let us know in the comments!

if you enjoy Friends 2 you should try word search from cool math games

6 Awesome Gifts for Minecraft Players

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Christmas is coming around, and it’s time to start thinking about getting the gifts in for the gamer in your life. But what do you buy someone who already has all the hi-tech gear?

Fear not – there are stocking fillers aplenty for Minecraft fans out there. Here’s our pick of the best.

Minecraft Lego

What could be better than Minecraft Lego? It’ll be easy to drag your Minecraft fan away from the computer with this set, complete with a Steve Minecraft figure, zombie and baby zombie.

Even better, it’s completely compatible with all Lego sets, so you can let your imagination run wild.

Minecraft Duvet Set

Do they eat, sleep and dream Minecraft? If so, then this duvet set will be perfect, with a reversible design and matching pillowcase.

Minecraft Uno


Were we pleased to find out Minecraft and Mattel had teamed up to create Minecraft Uno? You bet we were! Get ready for some brutal +4 card playing – this is a good one.

Minecraft Snapback


We love this Minecraft Snapback. With a cool design and a subtle nod to Minecraft, it’s more than just a novelty design.

Minecraft Creeper Xbox Controller


This wireless Xbox Controller feature the famous Minecraft creeper design, and is a must for the gamer in your life. Not only will they have a spare controller, but they choose this one specially for when they are on a Minecraft Marathon.

Minecraft Sheet Music


Whether you’re pratically a concert pianist, or can just about manage ‘Chopsticks’ on a keyboard, the sheet music for Minecraft will give you hours of enjoyment at the piano.

 

 

The Most Amazing Minecraft Sculptures That Have Topped Reddit

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There are plenty of Minecraft sculptures out there but none come close to the works of art produced by professional modder, Ushio Tokura.

In a reddit post which has recieved 162k upvotes, Ushio showcases his sculpture ‘Aquasomnia’. Using the tools on Minecraft, Ushio has created a work of art worthy of the Tate. With intricate details, balances of colours and thoughtful design, it’s no wonder that Ushio’s post was so popular.

Aquasomnia by Ushio Tokura

This isn’t the only impressive sculpture Ushio has created. On his library of projects on Planet Minecraft are lots of equally impressive designs, which Minecraft players can download and read more about the method and meaning behind the projects. Below are a few of his most impressive pieces.

The Perfect Marionnette – Ushio Tokura
Flower Corpse – Ushio Tokura
Idyllic Cage – Ushio Tokura

Gaming Girls Needed for More Than Simple Sex Appeal

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This simple question struck me while I was trawling through old Kotaku updates for info on Dragon Age II, whereupon I caught another look at the new female version of Hawke, the game’s protagonist.

Much like Mass Effect 2’s Commander Shepard, players will be able to choose a male or female version of the same character when the game drops next year.

Supposedly this allows for better immersion as the game’s NPCs and party members can refer to your character as Hawke, rather than having to fall back on “you”, “my Lord/Lady” or “my friend” which most RPGs have to resort to. Of course, its understandable why this has to be the case, but it does sometimes feels as if everyone is treating you like the dullest guy at a party whose name they’ve already forgotten, and not the world’s most legendary of heroes.

This kind of choice is all well and good. Creating a story that fits a male or female character equally suggests that BioWare have left opportunities for love interests open on either side of the gender fence (and the sexuality fence too), a bonus for fans of Dragon Age: Origins pixelated pounding shenanigans.

However, leaving the multi-gender Shepards and Hawkes aside for a moment, are there enough purely female protagonists in games?

Sure, there are some iconic female games characters who immediately spring to mind: Samus, Lara Croft, Jill Valentine, Bayonetta, Nariko. There are a number who are the supreme heroines of their respective adventures.

Obviously there is also a multitude of female characters who are in “supporting roles” rather than being stars of the show, but despite having not sat down to do the math, I think it’s safe to assume that female protagonists are massively outgunned by their male counterparts.

Is this an imbalance that needs to be addressed? As already mentioned, there are plenty of games where the choice of character gender remains open (especially in the RPG genre), allowing players to choose whichever avatar sex best suits their current mood. However, games being developed that are purely from the player perspective of a woman are still few and far between.

Now I’m no PC freak (at least, not in the political correctness sense) and I don’t want a 50-50 split or anything, but a few more top game titles where well-constructed and eminently likeable female protagonists would be a welcome occurrence.

They don’t all have to be kicking ass and taking names either, though playing that sort of heroine is thoroughly enjoyable. The addition of female protagonists in more cerebral games such as your Professor Laytons and Phoenix Wrights would likely be as well received.

Questions concerning sex appeal sit heavily upon female characters. How much is enough? What’s too much? Is that outfit too revealing or that bosom too full? Game developers often get unfairly battered with the “objectifying stick” when bringing out new female characters or models for players to create their own female avatars in RPGs.

There are examples where the sex appeal card has been played as strongly and repeatedly as possible. X-Blades is one such game, since the designers made a creative decision to have the camera stick rigidly to protagonist Ayumi’s ass at all times, regardless of ensuing combat or other such minor distractions.

Certainly, this style of design and imagery can help initially attract a male audience (witness the image choices in this article) as sex appeal sells. However, it’s certainly not a game-saver in its own right. A jiggling pair of butt cheeks wrapped in the skimpiest of leather or mail bands do not distract the player from flimsy plots and poor combat systems forever.

While I don’t believe that creating a female protagonist who is a thoroughly plain and dowdy creature just to buck the trend is necessarily a good idea, they don’t have to be designed to pop out of their bodices every time the player performs a sharp left turn. Mind you, a little bodice-popping action is healthy now and then. Especially if you need something to lighten the mood after a tragic NPC death or town-burning cutscene.

Put simply, there seems to be plenty of room for more games with compelling stories played from a purely female perspective.

Feel free to declare your favourite female game protagonist and a choice moment or aspect of their character that makes them awesome.

Fast Forward to 2019 and things are looking much more realistic!

Deus Ex Human Revolution is Game of the Year Material

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Every now and then a game comes along that grips you, shakes you up and makes you think differently about video games entertainment as a whole. Deus Ex: Human Revolution is one such game.

After a veritable assault of pre-trailers, cinematic trailers and gameplay trailers, I already had a pretty good idea what to expect from DEHR. I was prepared for an adaptive stealth shooter RPG with a heavy emphasis on storytelling, player choice and variety of playstyles to experiment with.

What I was not prepared for was just how perfectly DEHR would present and perform each of these elements.

I am now 8 hours into the story and it was genuinely difficult tearing myself away in order to write this up. So I hope you appreciate it, internet people! I could be hacking terminals right now! Or breezing past guards while cloaked, unloading fearsome amounts of firepower or slicing enemies up with foot-long arm blades!

The most important aspect of my first impressions of DEHR that I can share is that its gameplay mechanics work extremely well. If  you’ve seen one of the multiple gameplay trailers then you already know that as Adam Jensen, Sarif’s augmented security chief and all-round lethal weapon, you can pick from a variety of combat approaches: aggressive, stealthy or adaptive.

Go quiet or bring the noise, it’s your choice as you determine the best way to outfight or outfox your enemies and complete your objective. Thus far I have experimented mainly with being stealthy and DEHR has rewarded me with a tense and gratifying gaming experience that is reminiscent of the best elements of the Hitman series and Tenchu (that’s going back a bit!)

Stalking from cover to cover is smooth and fluid, as a simple holding of the right mouse button allows you to stick to walls and objects like glue while positioning yourself for a stealth takedown or a surprise barrage of fire. Firefights are not that impressive visually but they work perfectly well and there’s a certain satisfaction in using your surroundings well to outfight your foes. Despite Adam’s sleek and shiny array of augments, you will die very quickly if you don’t respect the rules of taking cover.

This leads us nicely to the augment system itself. As the game progresses, Adam earns experience points and cash credits. While the creds can be used to buy a multitude of essential supplies, xp is useful for one thing only: lovely, lovely augments.

To me, an upgrade customization system has been well designed if you agonize over every choice you make. By this measure, DEHR’s system is a work of art. Every time I gain enough for a new augment, I’m deliberating for at least a good few minutes on what technological wonder tool I should take.

From standard things like improved energy and damage reduction to more esoteric items such as an incredible personal cloaking device, every augment seems like a vital investment. DEHR really does give you the tools to suit your preferred playstyle. As you progress, you can turn yourself into a deadly ghost, an unstoppable combat juggernaut or any shade in between.

So, the gameplay works but what about the meat that surrounds the bones of DEHR? Well, I’m not going to give any spoilers but what I will say is that the story is compelling and extremely well told. DEHR already has my vote for the “best intro of the year” award, as the process of Adam’s reconstruction is utterly gripping.

Mass Effect style dialogue response wheel guides you through each conversation in-game. While this may not be to everyone’s tastes, in DEHR’s case it seems balanced and nuanced so far, allowing you to pick subtle shades of grey as well as stark black and white when it comes to your chosen moral path. For example, early on you are asked to help a fellow Sarif employee break free of a blackmailing attempt, as he has been stealing company pharmaceuticals to help needy people. Moral conundrums abound in DEHR, giving the player plenty of scope to enjoy picking their way through them.

The environments of DEHR are hauntingly beautiful as well. While I’m sure the best is yet to come, so far I’m being almost assaulted by a million different little details that clamour for attention: posters, advertising billboards, even the memo’s and newspapers cluttering people’s desks, everything makes me want to stop and examine it, despite a yearning to delve further into the plot.

My one gripe is that the faces and lip-synching of the game’s characters are relatively basic. Perhaps we’ve been spoilt by L.A Noire, but DEHR’s faces simply don’t to do the quality of the dialogue or voice acting justice. Never mind, it’s bearable and not game-breaking at all.

As well as looking great, DEHR sounds incredible too. As mentioned, the voice acting is varied and engaging, but the background music perfectly complements the cool cyberpunk future that Adam inhabits. Here’s a link to the music score. Click it, enjoy it, thank me later.

Overall, I cannot sing the praises of Deus Ex: Human Revolution enough. Developer Eidos Montreal have forged a bold, beautiful and strikingly different kind of game that excels in all aspects. Combat is impressive enough to satisfy FPS fans, stealthers will have a ball and RPG addicts will likely be completely drawn into the story. There’s something for everyone here, something very special indeed.

I will return for a full analytical review of Deus Ex: Human Revolution once I’ve finished my first playthrough. The first of many, no doubt. Now, time for me to get back to another tough choice regarding augments!

Deus Ex: Human Revolution is now available worldwide for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3.

Was Charlie Chaplin a Romany Gypsy?

Charlie Chaplin, the enigmatic star of silent movies, is recognised worldwide and remains a household name to this day.

Who was Charlie Chaplin?

Most remember Chaplin for his iconic character The Little Tramp – a scruffy moustached figure who unwittingly falls into all manner of disastrous situations.

However, the real Charlie Chaplin was a cut a different figure entirely. From an early life on the streets of London plagued with hardship and poverty, Chaplin’s talents for entertainment and performance catapulted him to worldwide fame.

In later life, he received a knighthood and even dabbled in politics, but found himself increasingly surrounded by controversies both in his personal and professional life, even being banned from entering the USA due to his outspoken political views.

Discovering Charlie Chaplin’s Origins

However, throughout all this time, Chaplin’s origins remained somewhat mysterious. Whilst it’s true that he grew up poor in the late Victorian London, even entering the workhouse at a young age, his birth certificate has never been found.

In 1991, long after Charlie Chaplin’s death, his daughter, Victoria Chaplin, inherited her father’s old bureau after the death of her mother. Within it, in a locked drawer, lay the secret about Chaplin’s heritage that had remained hidden for most of his life.

After enlisting the help of a locksmith, Victoria was finally able to open the drawer and discover a letter addressed to her father from an elderly gentleman named Jack Hill, informing the then aged Chaplin that he was born on the Black Patch in Smethwick near Birmingham.

Romany Gypsies at The Black Patch Park in Smethwick

Born to a Romany Gypsy Queen

Jack Hill claimed Chaplin was born in a Gypsy caravan – and a good one, belonging to a Gypsy queen. He goes on to explain how Chaplin’s grandfather belonged to a circus which moved around, with Chaplin’s mother eventually settling in London.

So why did Chaplin keep this secret from his family in his last years?

Perhaps because he didn’t want to be attached to the stigma surrounding the Romany Gypsy community at the time, having faced such controversy in his earlier life as it was.

Regardless, his children have embraced the heritage. Chaplin’s son, Michael Chaplin, unveiled a memorial to the Romany Gypsy community at the Black Patch, in a high-profile acknowledgment of his ancestry and validation of the rumours.

Charlie Chaplin in the Peaky Blinders

More recently, Chaplin’s ancestry entered popular culture again, with a feature in the popular TV show, Peaky Blinders, with a mention from the protagonist Tommy Shelby about Chaplin’s Gypsy heritage and links to the Black Patch.

What was Charlie Chaplin’s nationality?

British

Was Charlie Chaplin a Romany Gypsy?

According to a letter received by Charlie and uncovered by his daughter after his death, Chaplin was born in a Gypsy caravan to a renowned Gypsy Queen.

What episode of Peaky Blinders does Charlie Chaplin appear in?

Series 2, epidsode 5.

So What The Hell is This Minecraft all About Then?

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minecraftfire

Since its release last month, the efforts of the one-man developer Markus “Notch” Persson have been drawing all sorts of attention, the majority of it very favourable indeed. Not only have the number of Minecraft players rocketed since its launch, but the game’s media coverage has spread far and wide, recently attracting an ongoing series of comic strips from Penny Arcade.

This Inception inspired fan-made video provides an exciting intro to the world of Minecraft:

Evolution of Minecraft 2009-2019

But why is the game supposedly so addictive? What is all the fuss about?

Broken down to basics, Minecraft places you in a first-person perspective of a vast sandbox world of charmingly retro and rudimentary graphics. Blocky mountains, rivers, fields and forests surround you, all untouched, all ready to be shaped.

The beauty of Minecraft doesn’t lie in the individual look and feel of its mass of blocks, it lies in the near unlimited potential for what those blocks can become. You, the player, have the tools, the raw materials and the scope to build as magnificently as your imagination allows you. Don’t believe me? Check out some of these gigantic labours of love:

The aim of the game, as the title suggests, is to mine stuff and then craft more useful stuff with it. You start small, fashioning basic tools out of wood, then work up to more impressive projects such as building yourself a house or even your own city, until eventually you can move mountains and divert rivers.

Here’s the kicker though. You’re only safe during the day, when night falls, all hell breaks loose.
Minecraft Zombie

While you remain free to build your towering constructions during the daylight hours, the night holds a host of terrors as spiders, zombies and skeletons scuttle across the land, hell-bent on tearing down your lovingly built architectural wonders and using your corpse as a welcome mat to nightmare-ville.

So what’s a minecrafter to do? Well you craft weapons and traps of course. Using your crafting skills and your environment to your advantage, you have to fight off the nightly waves of undead horrors in order to live to see the sunrise. Then it’s back to mining and crafting again the next morning.

Don’t plan on getting any sleep, because neither you nor your character will have the time!

It sounds so simple, chop stuff up, build a house, craft a sword, hit the baddies till they die from it. Using graphics that predate the days of Doom and its ilk should be laughable in an age of visual delights such as Mass Effect 2, Final Fantasy XIII and Gran Tourismo 5, shouldn’t it?

No, of course it shouldn’t. One-man-band Markus Persson has recognised one of the fundamental formulaic principles of creating a “good” game that so many huge developers have a criminal tendency to forget: Gameplay > Graphics.

The heavy focus on creativity is the critical strength of the game. The best part is, it’s not even finished yet. The game has come a long way since we first tested it in Alpha mode back in September 2010 while Persson himself continued to tinker and craft and shape the game further still.

Now the only thing minecraft needs to worry about is roadblocks..