Hey, I made it nearly three whole months without writing about Hanging With Friends. I must be cured. Or not. Sigh.
Since the launch of the coin market my strategy has changed noticeably. The coin market and all the new stuff I can spend coins on are have added a new dimension to the game. When it first launched, one of my opponents asked my opinion on the market. At that time, I didn’t think it would have any significant impact on the game because, let’s face it, the lifelines are lame. Now, after a couple of months, I have to say that I think the coin market has changed the game environment.
Because of the coin market, I now try to maximize the points earned through each puzzle. And I think others are naturally following this strategy as well. Otherwise I wouldn’t see so many puzzles with Q’s and J’s played against me. The puzzles are still just as challenging, but c’mon people. There are other words that end with -ATS. It doesn’t always have to be QATS.
Coin Management Strategies
1. Don’t spend coins on building puzzles. Ever. Neither the Conjure nor the Tune-Up features are free, they both cost 20 coins. It takes 200 points to earn 20 coins and there is no possible word that can earn you anything close to 200 points. With lifelines, you at least get one use out of them for free in each match.
2. Don’t spend coins on lifelines, just use the free ones judiciously. If you remember my 2nd HwF strategy guide, I’ve changed my position on lifelines. I still think the only one worth mentioning is Suspect. And Suspect saves my bacon about 3/4 of the time I use it. However, I think that is because I only use it in salvageable games (i.e. when there are 2 unknown tiles and 2 or more strikes to go). Since I now hoard coins, I’ve started looking for ways to use the Extinguish and Revive.
3. Extinguish works best if you have one unknown tile to go and a few possibilities that need narrowing. Let’s say the puzzle is _INE. There are a lot of possibilities out there. Let’s also say that you have narrowed them down to DINE, FINE, LINE, or PINE. If you have a couple strikes left, you may want to use Extinguish here. More often than not, Extinguish will remove one of the possibilities and three useless tiles from your pool. It improves your odds…technically. This strategy has worked well a couple of times. If you also consider that people are building puzzles to maximize points, Extinguish may also help guide your intuition. BTW, if you ever come up against _INE, try Z first, it works > 50% of the time.
4. Revive is a funny lifeline. I used to always use it when I’m down to my last strike when I’m on my last balloon. Revive gives me back one strike, and suddenly I have a mental breakthrough and figure out the puzzle. That’s when I feel like I’ve wasted the lifeline. Now I try to use Revive before I’m down to my last balloon just to make myself feel better. There’s no real strategy to this lifeline, it’s kind of a Hail Mary, you use it when you have no other hope. But, there is a way to make it kind of useful. If you have 1 unknown tile to go and you have narrowed down the possibilities to 2 letters, you should use Revive. And if you can plan ahead a bit better, like say when you have 3 strikes left and 4 possibilities, use Revive instead of Extinguish.
5. Don’t use any lifelines until you are down to 2 or 3 balloons. If I’m way ahead, there’s no point in wasting a lifeline that won’t impact the final outcome of the match. When I’m way behind, that’s when I try to get the most out of my lifelines. Some opponents get complacent and make easier puzzles when they’re ahead by 3 balloons. IMO, the game doesn’t get interesting unless my opponent and I are down to our last couple of balloons anyway.
In summary, I find this approach easier and more satisfying in the long run. I am no longer straining my brain just to come up with fringe vocabulary words. Besides, I pick up better ideas from what my opponents throw at me. I also play faster now and can clear my 25 game backlog in about 30 – 35 minutes.
P.S. If you want to play a challenging wordsmith, try starting a game w/ KETCHWADO.