The rules of the game

You may like to watch the instructional videos before reading these rules.

The game’s screen has three sections (Figure 1 below):

  • the letters grid
  • the words grid
  • the hints label
Figure 1: Full Screen

The game engine generates 6 words that have 6 letters each. The words will be randomly selected from a pool of words that pertain to a category you have selected (e.g. Christmas). The first time you play the game the category is set to the ‘EASY’ category.

The game then shuffles the letters of the words (36 letters) and places them randomly into the letter grid. The game keeps track of which letter from which words-grid position went into which letters-grid position and proceeds to place numbers into those now empty words-grid position. These numbers are the sum of the column-number and the row-number of where that words-grid letter was positioned into the letters-grid.

Figure 2: Partial screen showing the letters’ code system

As you can see above the letter ‘F’ in the third word in the words-grid was placed (but see later for a caveat on this) in the letters-grid at row-1 column-4 (i.e. 4+1 = 5). And accordingly the game placed the number 5 in the empty words-grid position (it was empty until later filled during game play).

But things are not as easy as that. As you can surmise, there are four letters-grid positions that have the same row + column value (1+4, 2+3, 3+2, 4+1). Accordingly, having the number 5 in a words-grid position gives you one level of a HINT as to what the letter might be.

Another hint level is the word’s hint given in the Hints-Label. Whenever you tap on any letter in a word or even to the left or right sides of the word’s row the game will display a hint as to what the word is. If you look at the full game screen above (Figure 1) you will notice that the hints-label has the word ‘ghastliness’. And if you look carefully you will see that the row-number 6 has a little arrow after it pointing at the word on that row. This arrow indicates that the hint displayed in the hints-label pertains to the 6th word.

The goal of the game is that you select the right letters (one at a time) from within the letters-grid and place them in the correct slots in the words-grid so as to eventually reconstitute all the words.

If you look at the above partial screen image (Figure 2) you will see that the 3rd word has been completed. Whenever the word is filled out and all the letters are the correct letters so as to form the right word then the game will display a checkmark to the right of the word. When you have all 6 words completed the game is over which will be indicated with a short animation and a word of jubilation (e.g. Hurrah). To play again just swipe the word of jubilation left or right, or tap on the tools icon on the top-left side of the screen to go to the menu-screen and select the ‘New Game’ menu option.

Figure 3: End of game animation

Figure 4: Game menu screen
  • To select a letter to place in the words-grid just tap on it. When you do that, it will change color to indicate the selection.
  • Only letters that have not been previously placed (grayed out) can be selected.
  • If you change your mind and want to select a different letter then just tap on the new letter. This will unselect the previously selected one and select the new one.
  • You can also cancel the selection by tapping again on the selected letter.
  • When you select a letter there will be indicators displayed on the row and column numbers of that letter to help you calculate what the code for that letter.
  • If you place your finger on the letters grid and slide (pan) around the grid the Hints-Label will display (temporarily) the code for the letter under your finger. This helps you see the code for any letter in the grid.
  • If you want to see the code for just one letter then put your finger on it and slide it slightly but making sure not to exit the letter. This will show the code in the hints-label and when you remove your finger the letter will be selected (if it is selectable). if you do not wish to select the letter then just slide your finger to outside the letter before finishing the sliding around.

When you have a selected letter, you can then try to place it in a slot in the words-grid.

  • To place a selected letter in a slot in the words grid just tap on that slot in the grid.
  • You can place a selected letter in a slot in the words-grid only if the selected letter’s code matches the code in the words-grid slot.
  • If you try to place a letter with a code different from the code displayed in that slot the game will not allow it (the selected letter will remain selected).
  • If you have the right code the game will place that letter in the selected slot regardless of whether it is the right letter or not for completing the word. As long as it has the right code it will fit. So you can have wrong letters in a slot.
  • When a selected letter is successfully placed in a words-grid slot, it will be grayed out and becomes unavailable for further selection.
  • You can place a selected letter into an empty slot or a slot that already has a letter in it. If the slot already had a letter in it, the game will replace the old letter and place the new letter in the slot. The old letter will be placed back in the letters-grid and it will become free again for later selection (i.e. ungrayed).
  • You can double tap on a any slot in the words-grid to remove the letter already there. This letter will be placed back into the letters-grid (i.e. ungrayed). You can do this when you realize that the letter you placed is not the correct one.
  • When you have correctly placed all the right letters in a word the game will show a checkmark to the right of the word indicating that it is completed.
  • A correct letter in a slot means a letter that has the right code and the right alphabetical value.
  • If you look at the partial screen image above you will notice that there are seven letters with ‘E’ in them. Two of those have the code 5 and two have the code 6 and two have the code 3 and one has the code 8.
  • In the completed word ‘FRENZY’ the letter ‘E’ in the third slot of the word has the code 8. Thus you can only place the ‘E’ that has that code and not any of the other Es.
  • But, for the first (uncompleted) word the second slot has the code 3. This means that you can have anyone of the Es with code 3 but not any of the other Es.
  • You do not have to replace the exact particular E that was taken from the original word. Just an E with the right code, and if there are multiple Es with the same code then any of them will be the right letter in that slot. Just as long as it is an E of the right code to complete the word.
  • If you look at the 6th word in the above full game screen (Figure 1) you will see that the word has been almost completed and it appears that the word will be ‘HORROR’. If you look at the letters-grid you will notice that the letter ‘R’ has been selected and is about to be placed in the last slot in the word (code = 6). Further notice that there is an arrow at the column-number 4 pointing down and one at the row-number 2 pointing to the right. These help indicate that the letter that is currently selected has the code value of 6.
  • If you look further you will see that there was another R with code 6 that was already placed in the same word in the third slot. Either of these two Rs could go in the third or the last slots since they have the code 6 and are the right alphabetical letter.
  • If you look at the fourth slot in the word there is another R there but this R has to have the code 9, so it could not be any of the two Rs with code 6. It had to be the R with code 9.
  • So you cannot just select any R to put in the word where an R is needed. It has to be an R with the right code. But when there are multiple Rs with the same code then any of them would do.

A third level of hints  to help in discerning the words is the Category of the words you are playing. The game allows you to select a words category according to annual cultural occasions (e.g. Halloween).

Figure 5: Words Category Selection

If you press on the tools icon on the left-top-corner of the game-screen (Figure 1) you will get a menu-screen (Figure 4) from which you can select the menu option ‘Select Words Category’ which will present you with the words category selection screen (Figure 5). Selecting a new category will cancel the game currently in play and generate a new game.

The words category is a third level of hints. Since now you know the word has something to do with the occasion and the Hints-Label will show something to do with the occasion. The occasion should then invoke what words might be there. Along with the available letters in the grid and the full word-hint one can eventually arrive at what the word should be.

When you start a new game or when you select a different category, a new game is generated and the category will be displayed in the hints-label. Later while playing, the hints-label will hold the hint for the word you are currently filling with letters or have just tapped on. But if you want to see the category in play again you can swipe left or right on the hints-label to redisplay the category in play.

Figure 6: Words category in play

The ‘Easy’ category will give relatively straightforward clues to the words which makes it easy to discern the words. The ‘All’ category will give relatively hard clues and it might be harder to discern the words from those clues; this is when you might want to use the internet search ‘cheat/hint’ facility (see the Two hints/cheats blog for more details).

A fourth hint level is somewhat esoteric and can be elusive. English words have certain constraints as to their phonetics and letter combinations. Thus certain letters cannot (or very rarely) follow or precede other letters and vowel placement is required. This knowledge of the constraints of English spelling and sounds can help eliminate letters from amongst the available letters with the right code to be placed at a certain word slot in the words-grid.

A fifth hint level that is also subtle is that as you proceed and figure out some of the words, the available pool of letters becomes reduced. This helps in guessing the remaining letters more easily. Also sometimes you might get lucky and all the remaining available letters with the same code value are all the same alphabetical letter and thus you know that you can just go ahead and place them all since the letter is the same. This also helps even further since now you have words with an already placed letter which can help greatly in figuring out the words.

So in summary you have 5 levels of hints

  1. The word hint in the hints-label given when you tap on any of the words
  2. The letter code for any of the slots in the words-grid that constrain what letter can be placed there
  3. The category of words being played
  4. The constraints of the structure and phonetics of English words
  5. The available letters in the letters grid

Also see the Two cheats/hints blog for more ways to help solve the puzzle.

Also available on the App Store is Gallimaufry Words Lite the free version which is the same as the full version but with only 49 words.

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