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What to Do When You Only Need One More Letter for a Word

Screenshot of Words With Friends showing one letter missing for a high-scoring word

One of the most frustrating moments that can happen during Words With Friends is when you find a perfect play, but are only missing one letter to finish the word. When the word could be 100+ points yet, you can't do anything about it.

When there's a lot of points on the line like this it's important to decide whether or not you should try to wait and play the word or just move on with the game. So we'll be going through what you to do when you only need one more letter for a word.

To start, there are a couple of certain ways you should know to try and play the word you are going for. They both consist of trying to obtain the letter to finish the word. So this means that you can't play any of the letters you currently have that will be used for it.

The safe way is where you play the extra letters in your rack in hopes of picking up the letter you need after that play. For example, I wanted to play the word "napkin" but needed one more N and had the extra letters E, O, and T.

So, I only used the letters E, O, and T to make "veto" for the move. This is a good way to go if you still want to get points for your turn.

Screenshots of WWF showing the word napki and veto

Otherwise, you could try the second way simply by swapping the extra letters. However, unless you use the Swap+ powerup, this means you will lose your turn. So, this should be the back-up plan if you can't find a place to play the extra letters.

Nevertheless, there are many things to consider before deciding to wait for a letter to play a high-scoring word. It is good to contemplate which letter it is that you need. Make sure to view the Tile Bag and see how many are available.

If the letter you need is not there as well as any blank tiles, there's nothing you can really do about it. But if there are some blank tiles and letters available, what are the odds of you receiving it?

Going back to the previous example to make the word "napkin," I needed the letter N. The Tile Bag didn't have any blank tiles and only 3/66 were N. But since I played three letters, I have three chances to get the letter making it a 1.4% chance of getting it.

Another thing to recognize is the score of the game and how late in the game it is. If the score is really close or the opponent is currently winning it may not be the right way to go. You would have to give up using a significant amount of your tiles if you are waiting to build a word.

This is where some more strategy comes into play. Each turn, try using all of your tiles at first to see if you can make a word that is a higher score than the one you are waiting on playing. If you do find one, there would no longer be any reason to wait since you have found a better option.

If you are still unsure whether or not to try and wait for the letter, inspect the board where you have to play the word. It might not be worth waiting to play a word in its spot if it is in an obvious high-scoring area on the board. 

The worst thing that could happen is if your opponent plays in the spot that you were waiting for because it had big bonus tiles.

If you are at your last resort, try using a different letter for the word. I once spent two turns trying to get the letter M for the word "volume" but tried using a letter T instead. Sure enough, the word "volute" was valid.

So overall, both waiting for a word and forgetting about one are not bad ways to go. It really just comes down to the circumstances on that play and how the game is currently going. There are some strategies that can be applied do make the move less risky just as long as it isn't costing you the game.

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