Upwords is a board-based word game where players attempt to make connecting words in a similar fashion to Scrabble. Unlike Scrabble, players can - and should - stack letter tiles on top of each other to form new words.


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Upwords was invented in 1981 by Elliot Rudell and licensed by Milton Bradley who first released the game. Today Upwords is marketed in the US by Hasbro and is available in some 20 languages worldwide.

The original game was played on an 8 by 8 board. The new edition you can buy in the stores today uses a 10 by 10 board which improves the game for larger numbers of players.

One nice feature of Upwords is that the scoring system means that words towards the end of the game are frequently worth more than those at the beginning. This gives trailing players the chance to catch up rather than being left to simply make up the numbers.

How To Play

The rules of Upwords are similar to Scrabble, although the strategy is very different. The game is designed for two to four players.

As well as the board, the game comes with a number of letter tiles (64 in the original 8 x 8 version, 100 in the new 10 x 10 version). Letter distribution is similar to Scrabble, but unlike Scrabble there are no points associated with letters. Nor are there any blanks.

Each player has a hand of seven tiles that are drawn randomly and kept secret. The first player starts by placing a word at least two letters long that covers at least one of the central four tiles.

Thereafter, each player must play tiles that either 1) form a new word intersecting an existing one, 2) change an existing word to a new one by stacking, or 3) do both at once by placing a new word that stacks the single letter where the words intersect.

Usual Scrabble rules apply to the formation of words. Words must all join crossword style and all words formed by the placement of the new tiles must be valid and are scored for. Note that when changing an existing word at least one of the original letters must be left in place. After a turn, a player replenishes their hand.

Some players limit the maximum height of a stack to five tiles. This is as much as anything a practical consideration to avoid huge vertical towers collapsing!

Scoring is based on the total number of letters in the words formed including all those in the stacks. Thus a four letter word will score 8 points if all stacks are two high. If someone now changes the last letter the new word will now be worth 9 points. One exception to this rule is that a word where all the letters stacks are only one high scores double. Thus a four letter word placed new scores eight points.

Players may pass or exchange letters as in Scrabble. The game ends when either all players pass in turn or when none can make a word. Players are then penalised five points for each tile remaining in their hand.