Help me find a single-player offline Scrabble game for Windows 10
November 29, 2015 8:51 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a computer version of the game Scrabble. It needs to run on Windows 10, and allow for offline play with a single human player against some number of computer players. Snowflakes inside.

My parents recently migrated from Windows XP to Windows 10. Most of the applications they liked, I either got working or found replacements for. The one exception is my dad's Scrabble game. (This was a Hasbro-licensed game published by Inforgrames in 2002. It came on a CD-ROM.)

I've spent quite a bit of time searching, and it seems as though 1) Hasbro is quite jealous of their trademark and 2) only really has interest in online multiplayer. So, dear hive-mind, I turn to you. I'm looking for something that checks the following boxes:
  • is a Scrabble game (using the official board, tileset and rules)
  • runs natively on Windows 10 (i.e., not in a VM)
  • allows games with a single human player
  • does not require continuous Internet connectivity during play
  • provides adjustable difficulty, or at least a level of play suited to a casual player
  • doesn't require registration / account creation / sneaky personal data
I'm OK with things that cost money, though FOSS is always better than not.

The closest I've found is Scrabble3D. That ticks most of the boxes, but it seems like the only working English dictionary is a union of TWL06 and SOWPODS, which means that unless you're a highly ranked tournament player or love the bitter sting of crushing defeat, it's far from fun.

Any suggestions greatly appreciated.
posted by sourcequench to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Does the 2013 release of scrabble meet your requirements? I have never played it, but single player is listed as one of the features.
posted by phil at 9:21 AM on November 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Quackle is awesome software created by the MIT scrabble club. If I remember correctly (I haven't played it in a while, so this may not apply to the latest release) you have to set up the board to be a Scrabble board (or you can place double word scores or whatever however you want). The highest difficulty setting beats the top players in the world about half of the time, but you can set it on a less difficult level.
posted by Ralston McTodd at 9:47 AM on November 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

What's your rationale for the no-VM requirement? If it's just that needing to launch a VM to start a game is going to be too much complexity for your Dad to deal with, have you considered that it's quite practical to set up a special-purpose VM that just runs the one game when it starts up, and make the experience look very much like just launching the game natively? That way, he gets to keep using the same software he's already familiar with.
posted by flabdablet at 9:54 AM on November 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

Big Fish also has the 2013 version that Phil mentions. I played the trial and it seems to be set up only to either play the computer or yourself, no option for online play with other users that I can see. There's also an easy setting for playing the computer, which seems to be as labeled, since I was able to trounce it pretty handily. I have Windows 10 and it ran with no problem. I think you would have to sign your dad up for a Big Fish Account in order to purchase/download and install/activate the game, but being an account holder myself, they've never done anything weird with my information. The game itself doesn't require any kind of account creation.
posted by katyggls at 8:23 PM on November 29, 2015

The rationale for the no-VM requirement is that, given I'm on the hook for unpaid family tech support, I'd prefer it not have to be for a fourteen-year-old OS that the vendor disowned five years ago, and which I no longer run on any machine of my own.

And actually, the XP support itself wouldn't be so bad. The real problem is that a VM would be seen as the path of least resistance for everything. It wouldn't just be Scrabble, it would be scanner drivers from two decades ago and Juno's all-in-one email client and web browser and an endless cavalcade of similar things.

Both they and I will be much happier in the long term if XP is simply not an option. I'm trying to rip the band-aid off, and I'm not about to re-apply it now that I'm down to the last painful hair.

flabdablet is absolutely right that a VM is a great answer in general to problems similar to this one. I want to avoid it in this case for reasons more social than technical.

In other news: Quackle is looking like a good solution. As mentioned above, you have to create your own board. The board editor understands symmetry, so this is the work of about two minutes using any online example of the original board.

It ships with dictionaries that are more "collections of strings Scrabble players agree are acceptable" than "things a native English speaker would recognize as a word". Adding new dictionaries is very easy. I used the /usr/dict/words from Duke, with all the lines starting with capital letters removed. That's a lot more reasonable for a casual player.

Even with a limited dictionary and using the "Quick" player, Quackle is an extremely aggressive player and punishes any lack of defensive play savagely. So I probably will give the 2013 version a try (via Big Fish rather than Steam).

Thanks to all who responded!
posted by sourcequench at 9:12 AM on November 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

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