Advanced Strategy Guide: Hanging With Friends

My iPod's home screen.  I have 26 games of Hanging With Friends in queue.

Hanging with Friends. Lot of friends.

It seems that my first Hanging With Friends strategy guide was popular with some of you. And thank you to all of you who have started a game with me. I’m at my limit now and I don’t think the app will allow me to rematch with anyone until I get down to 20 concurrent games. I’ve learned quite a bit more in the last week and thought I would share some of it with you.

Advanced strategies:

Creating puzzles:
1. Words that use double letters (i.e. GAFF, ACCEPT, etc.) are quite effective when the double letter is worth 3 points or more. People don’t really see double letters filling in two blank tiles. When the double letter is common, your opponent could stumble into the letters and give away the whole puzzle.

2. Short words that use consecutive vowels work well (i.e. RIOT, MEOW etc.). For whatever reason, I don’t hear double vowel sounds when I try to sound out words.

3. The best word puzzles are still the ones that have 2 uncommon letters and a lot of similar cousins. (i.e. WAVING, FAXING, CAVING, BAKING, etc.) The ***ING, **NT, **ND, and **RE families are quite troublesome. Even if you figure out the ending of the word without losing a strike, you may not have enough strikes to test every possible combination.

Solving puzzles:
1. Like I suspected in my first strategy guide, lifelines are only marginally helpful. Either I will burn too many strikes early on, or I will whiz through the puzzle. I hardly ever have the situation where I have 2 unknown letters and 1 strike remaining. At one point I had 200 coins in the bank.

2. Even though I just said that lifelines don’t help me solve puzzles that I would have never guessed, I’ve started using lifelines more liberally in my games. If using a lifeline will shave off 5 minutes of thinking from a game, it’s worth it. The time suck of sounding out every combination in the alphabet is killing my will to live.

3. Sound out words … out loud. Or at least softly under your breath. You can miss some fairly obvious words when you read silently. Remember that there is no context to around these puzzles. People normally read entire sentences at a time, not individual words. Your brain fills in words that your eyes may have skipped because you can see which direction the writer is heading towards. For example *ARING. There’s bar, tar, war… wait care-ING? Where did that come from?

4. I’m debating whether I should start off a game by guessing vowels first. I normally start a game by trying to figure out the ending of the word and then narrowing down the list of probable vowels based on how the word ends. Somehow, I tend to underestimate the letter U. Maybe it’s because U is worth 2 points and every other vowel is worth 1 point. I’ve had several memorable games where I should have gotten the word easily if I had just guessed the letter U.

Hanging with Friends - CHEATERS

Some people are just too good for their own good.

Miscellaneous:
1. Several players have asked how the points and coins work. The points are counted across all of your games, they are not tallied separately per opponent. You get a free lifeline when you play against a brand new opponent. You only have to start paying once you’ve used your free lifeline.

2. I noticed that there are always (or at least) 4 vowels in your pool when you create puzzles. And I have yet to come across a pool with 2 or more Q, X, J, or Z’s. I’m guessing the pool is not entirely random, but follows the Words With Friends tile distribution pool. I’ve never seen a WWF game with 2 or more J’s Z’s, etc. Not sure if this will help anyone. But in my mind, I’ve eliminated the possibility of seeing JAZZ played against me.

UPDATE: I’ve had people play 2 Z’s against me, so JAZZ, FUZZ, etc. is now definitely in the guessing pool. However, I’ve yet to have a set of tiles with 2 Z’s in my puzzle building pool.

3. This game gets tiresome if you spend too much time on any one puzzle or match. I now try to spend no more than 2 minutes per turn. As you can see from the screen cap above, I had 26 games queued up for me and it took me about an hour to clear that queue and it ate up most of my battery life. If you want to have fun, don’t be afraid to lose a game and move on to the next one. You will enjoy the game more if you whiz through puzzle after puzzle and still live a real life.

4. If you have games going with people you know (i.e. real-life friends), scan through your list of games and play those games first. I don’t know how long a game can linger before the app forces you to resign. Unlike Words With Friends, there is no time stamp of when the last move was played. The app only shows you when the match was started. The app also doesn’t sort the waiting games properly. I’ve had occasions where I take my turn against opponent #1, then I move on to opponent #2, and then see the opponent #1 pop back to the top of the list because he took his turn while I was playing opponent #2. Most days I’m too busy and I don’t clear out my game queue. It would be a shame to forfeit a game with your real life friends just because of a sorting bug.

UPDATE: That bug has been fixed, sort of. Now you can see when your last move was and the older games now populate the top of the list. However, I still sometimes see newer games pop up in my queue ahead of older games when I use the “Next” button to advance games.

BTW, if you want to challenge some good players, add a comment to this post with your Hanging With Friends username. Then check back in a few days and start up some games with others on the list. I’ve yet to receive any spam from chatting with players. Also try starting up a game with me, I might have an opening someday. My username is MADMARV.

One last thing. I have two IRL friends that play Hanging With Friends and they are very good. I also have it on the highest authority that they are talking trash about your mother right now. Their usernames are “” and “”.

UPDATE: Yeah, I sort of wrote one more strategy guide. It’s somewhat subtle and has fewer cookbook style tips. You can find it here,

About madmarv

Civil Engineer, CAD Geek, podcast junkie and amateur photographer.
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10 Responses to Advanced Strategy Guide: Hanging With Friends

  1. Kris says:

    my username is krispe22. when i have a free game i will start one with you.

    the problem i’m having is that i have several “dead” games that are over 4 days old (i.e. my opponent hasn’t tried to solve their words since this weekend) but I cannot resign the games. I don’t have a resign button unless it is my turn to solve or create a puzzle. this seems like a flaw to me…if a user doesn’t make a move in a certain time period they should be auto resigned or i should have the option to resign from the game so that i can find a user who WILL make a move more than every four days.

    • madmarv says:

      Ouch. Guess I’m lucky that I don’t have any opponents that take that long to play their turn. Well, hopefully others will start up a game with you now. I haven’t been able to start a new game in over a week because I’m over the limit, but I still get new game requests every day.

  2. Paul says:

    What happens when the last vowel has a duplicate earlier in the word? For example, I was going to play “quasar”, but ended up not doing so because I didn’t want to give my opponent “–a-a-”.

    • madmarv says:

      The game will reveal all occurrences of the vowel, so QUASAR will be presented as **A*A* when the game first starts.

      That’s one drawback to playing those kinds of words. I will still play those words if I feel that the word is complex enough, or is worth enough points. Hope this helps.

  3. Barry says:

    One thing I don’t understand is why sometimes my opponents don’t get given the last vowel when guessing my words. It seems to happen quite a lot with one person, but I’ve seen it happen with others too. My word might be “dare” and they will start with no letters shown. I’ll see them guess some letters, say “N”, and then they’ll guess “E” and the E in my word will be revealed (so it’s not just a display bug).

    Does anyone else see this?

    • madmarv says:

      I’ve seen that bug on a playback, but never in the game when it counts. I’ve always thought it was just a playback bug. I’ll keep an eye out for it in the future.

  4. Margie says:

    Hi Madmarv how do u earn coins?

    • Mad Marv says:

      When you build a word, you will be awarded points based on the Words With Friends tiles and scoring system. Every 200 points, you get 20 coins. This is just enough to buy one hint. So basically 200 points = 1 hint.

  5. Sandy says:

    I noticed I have less strikes available to me in some games and not others. Do you lose strikes the more lifelines you use?

    • madmarv says:

      The number of strikes depends on the length of the word. 4 letter words have 8 strikes, 5 letter words have 7 strikes, etc.