Wordfeud cheat battle: Scrabulizer vs. Wordfeud Helper plugin beta (UPDATE)

Last week saw the kick-off of the first completely unofficial Dutch Wordfeud tournament. I’m competing, and so far, things are going great. I have no illusions about making it to the next round though. Even though I’m winning most of the round one games, my scores are mediocre at best, and the accumulated total scores decide which sixteen players will compete in round two. But there’s a catch…



But although I wouldn’t really mind losing, I’d hate to lose to cheaters. There are a lot of cheat apps out there that can suggest the absolute best word to put on the board. Some are so advanced that they interpret screenshots from the game, or even interface directly with the Wordfeud server. In order to see if there was any way to spot when these apps were at work, my wife and I decided to play a game of Wordfeud using the best cheat apps on our respective phone platforms and see what would happen.

Scrabulizer for iOS

Scrabulizer takes a screenshot of the current game, recognizes all the words currently on the board, and then finds the best move. It uses the same dictionary as Wordfeud does, and offers a list of suggestions sorted by potential score. In our test, we used the top suggestion for each turn. Taking screenshots all the time is a bit of a pain, but aside from that the app is really easy to work with.

Wordfeud Helper plugin beta

Wordfeud Helper uses a different approach. It connects directly to your Wordfeud account, lets you select all current games, and then does the same thing Scrabulizer does. It too offers a list suggestions sorted by score, but there’s a nasty bug that affects Dutch language games.

It appears that the app continues to use the English letter values with the Dutch dictionary. This means that the predicted score can be off by as much as 20 points. You could probably get around this by manually calculate the scores for the top ten suggestions, but in our test we also used the top one. If this bug gets fixed, chances are that “Helper” will perform identical to it’s iOS competitor.

Fight!

The movie above shows the game from the iPhone end. The final score was iPhone: 573, Android: 361. However, the Android “player” was continually getting worse letters than the iPhone, and the language bug probably also affected its performance. I’ll try and do an English game and update this post, but the main conclusion has to be that playing with these apps is no fun at all, although it does sometimes result in monster scores.

Tightly packed

As you can see, these apps tend to clutter words together. Human players tend to look for open spaces, but it makes sense that packing words tightly together, thereby extending or creating “collateral words”, yields higher scores. I’m not sure whether there’s enough of a difference to spot cheaters, but this pattern may provide an excellent clue.

UPDATE

Here’s another video of both apps playing against each other. This time the game is English, and I’m happy to report that “Helper” did predict the correct scores. Again, there’s a similar pattern in the way words are connected.

Unfortunately, this particular game unearthed another shortcoming in the Android app. It does not use blank tiles at all. The Android player got one early on in the game, and the app only used the other six letters from there on in. This caused the app to lose the game, and by quite a large margin (340 vs. 501).

15 Comments

  1. So, that’s a fun game down the drain. No fun at all playing against cheaters. Make up the words yourself or go play in a kindergarten or something. Now it’s waiting for someone to accuse you of cheating when you make ‘cluttered’ words…..of course these can score bigtime and I don’t have to use cheats for it, either you see it or you don’t. Damn cheaters everywhere, in online ‘real’ games liki Call of duty and even in these simple cell phone games. Cheating losers should get a life.Biggest problem is spotting these characters in wordfeud, but I have seen a couple of suspects…..especially one right now…..first game so-so and the next unbeatable all of a sudden……fishy indeed. Maybe time to ditch this cheater game altogether……a good book will not cheat me on the way home. Loser cheaters

    Comment by Bakema NL — October 9, 2011 @ 3:51 pm

  2. If you are checking your words, then it’s ok. because Wordfeud used words that not everybody is aware of.

    You can check here in Dutch, English(Uk), English(US), French and Sweden.
    This website uses the official Wordfeud Dictionary. http://bit.ly/r1kynE

    I use it not to cheat, but to see what words i can make, and how many points they are.

    Comment by Brain Evans — October 12, 2011 @ 12:19 pm

    • I’m sorry, but neither of these apps will let you check words, except by seeing if they turn up in a list of (usually) better options. At which point you’ll be tempted to go with one of those. The website you mention seems like a helpful tool, although it’s easy to check words in the Wordfeud app (provided it’s your turn).

      Comment by Roy — October 12, 2011 @ 3:28 pm

      • But these Apps are “build for cheating”

        and the website http://www.wordfeudwoorden.nl gives you advice in strategy and the “how to..”
        much better in my eye’s
        So this website isn’t a cheat website, this website helps you vocabulary.

        Ps: i like your method of approach

        Comment by Brain Evans — October 13, 2011 @ 10:18 am

  3. Checking words (especially for determining point values) during a game is cheating. Imagine if you were playing a board game with another human and they wanted to look up a word in the dictionary…would you let them? I wouldn’t.

    Write down your tiles and check them after the game.

    Comment by Jon — October 16, 2011 @ 4:30 pm

  4. it seams like wordfeud helper has disappeared from the internet I can not find it anywere

    Comment by kevin — November 5, 2011 @ 10:50 pm

  5. Oh, common guys. If you wanna cheat, just be a man about it and admit you are a feud fraud… real men use feudfraud.com … ;)) and you still need to think a little for yourself!

    Comment by george — November 15, 2011 @ 11:20 pm

  6. Arggg.. makes me mad that there are cheaters in every game weather it is online, phone or in real life. There are always cheaters and they ruin the game.

    Comment by humberto — December 21, 2011 @ 7:59 pm

  7. cheating? why is using a word finder cheating? because you lose to them?
    let me explain something here that apparently a lot of people don’t [or refuse to] understand:

    1- Winning is always a matter of luck, right? [letters are distributed randomly to each opponent]
    2- Knowing the words is a matter of learning the words, right?
    3- Seeing the best combinations is just a matter of studying the board, right?

    those 3 things all humans can do… the computer only does this quicker… that’s the only difference!!!

    to prove that to you, let me ask you a question:
    do you know more words now, than you did before you played these games? are you better at this game now than when you first started it? if yes, then i call YOU a cheater! because you know and use words that you only remember because another used them against you…
    a word finder does not create new words, it uses existing words anyone can learn!
    a cheat is only a cheat if it can never be done by ANY sane human being.

    Comment by andré — March 4, 2012 @ 1:33 am

  8. like giving the player access to ALL the letters instead of what he’s given. THAT i call cheating….

    however, a warning could be in place here:
    just like when using a calculator, a word finder can make your brain lazy! so use with care ;)

    Comment by andré — March 4, 2012 @ 2:14 am

  9. okay, let’s put it very black and white:
    if humans were unable to learn, then using a word finder/compiler would be cheating. since this is not the case…

    Comment by andré — March 4, 2012 @ 4:38 am

    • I’m not sure I agree. By using one of these apps, the game no longer measures your skills (vocabulary, tactics). You divert this to a piece of software that not only knows all possible words, but is also infinitely faster at calculating scores (to determine the best move). It reduces the game to luck, whereas it was part skill before.

      Unlike with chess (where it’s all about thinking several moves ahead), there is such a thing as a “best move” in WordFeud. It can be calculated quite easily, just not by the human brain. Not within the timeframe of a WF game, and without lots of note-taking. Therefore, playing WF measures how close your brain can approach this optimum.

      If you’re using a cheat app, your move will always be optimal, given your letters and what’s already on the board. Your brain is taken out of the equation. It’s like playing chess with that IBM supercomputer suggesting moves. That would be considered cheating. And computers are much better at WordFeud than they are at chess.

      Comment by Roy — March 5, 2012 @ 9:38 am

  10. I use http://wordfeud-helper.nl, although this one shows only dutch words. I am not proud of it but sometimes it makes stuff teaser if you’re running out of time…

    Comment by jos — March 6, 2012 @ 2:31 pm

  11. It’s simple: just use the word finder to check your play AFTER you have made it. Then you can learn all of the great words that you MIGHT have played, while at the same time you will have exercised your mind in finding the best word that you could find on your own. And, there is no cheating involved because you will have made your play before you used the word finder.

    Word finders CAN help you to learn new words and to critique your own play. But learning new words is not an excuse for cheating, because you learn much more when you examine your play with software AFTER your have made your best play on your own.

    Comment by Carl — July 20, 2012 @ 3:23 am

  12. Some people like to cheat. I don’t know why. It does in fact ruin the game for the rest of us that like to play fair. But then again, cheaters will always exist. We must live in harmony with them rather than oppose them. I guess it’s human nature to cheat.

    Comment by Tom — August 22, 2012 @ 6:43 am