Different wordlists for different Words with Friends players
June 1, 2019 5:00 PM   Subscribe

In the game Words with Friends, my opponent is playing words that the game won't let me play. She just played JA in her most recent move, but when I try to play it, in the very same match, it says, "JA is not a valid word." What's going on?

Note: this is not a question of cheating. It's about something weird Zynga's game Words with Friends is doing to its players.

I was surprised a couple weeks ago when my opponent played EE as a word. She said it was one of the new words, and that all she had to do to get the new words was to download Words version 4, which she recommended I do. She said I would see the same games and everything. The version I'm playing with is already version 4, though; I like it much better than the version I'd installed on my iPad some years ago, because it doesn't have advertisements. I tried to find a different version 4 of Words with Friends on the App Store, but couldn't. I'm playing in iOS, on an iPod. I don't know what my opponent is playing on. And it doesn't seem to matter which of us has started a given game.

She's in New Zealand, where if she were playing real Scrabble she'd be using the SOWPODS lexicon which includes all sorts of not-really-English-words that aren't in the North American lexicon. I'm in the US. So it might make some sense for a game to have a different lexicon depending on where the starting player is located. It's really weird for it to be different for the two players throughout a game, though! And a friend in North America told me that she has the new words, too. The US friend said she's played EE and VU--neither of which I can play. How did she get them?

So how can I get the same lexicon, whichever it is, as my opponents? Is this an iOS thing? Is there another version that I could download? I don't especially want to play non-English-words like JE and EE, but it's annoying to not be able to play the same word that my opponent just played on the previous turn. We're not competing on an equal basis. And I guess that's okay, too, since I usually win anyway. I guess I just want to know more about what's going on.
posted by chromium to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't have an explanation but I can offer additional data. I'm in the U.S. and I'm playing the older Words Classic version of WWF on Android and I got the new words recently - automatically, without downloading anything.
posted by Redstart at 5:06 PM on June 1, 2019

Also, as far as I can tell there is no Words with Friends version 4.
posted by Redstart at 5:11 PM on June 1, 2019

I'm a US player and I recently noticed that it had reset my languages to both US and British English -- and I'm assuming that shift is where these new words have come from, which I have definitely noticed and am slowly training myself to play. It's...weird.

Note: I definitely am playing Words With Friends 2 on iOS, my app is updated, and I changed nothing manually.
posted by BlahLaLa at 5:49 PM on June 1, 2019

Thank you both. Those were the clues I needed. The answer is that either of two versions of Words with Friends ("Classic" or "2") on an old operating system do not receive the new word updates, but the same versions of Words with Friends on an up-to-date operating system do.

I just installed two versions of Words with Friends on an iPad with iOS 12, and the new words appear in both of them. I was able to play "JE" and add an S to "GITE". The new words appear in neither of the versions on my iPod which is still using iOS 9. When I tried to play the new words there, they rejected them; when I look there at the games in which I have played the new words on the newer OS, it refuses to define them, saying that they are not valid words. (It works perfectly well to go back and forth between the different devices.)
posted by chromium at 7:36 PM on June 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Incidentally, I just noticed that the latest Words With Friends update on my iPod says it is version 12.36.1.
posted by chromium at 3:44 PM on June 12, 2019

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