Rule for Scryptic

Basic Game play:

The game is intended for two players, represented on the board by gold and silver tokens and letters. You can play against either a friend or the AI opponent.

Play consists of alternating turns - a player signals the end of their turn by clicking 'end turn'.

A player begins with 9 letters on their rack. The rack can contain no more than 10 letters, and the pot of letters for each player is limited. At the start of a turn, 3 letters are added to the player's rack. If this exceeds the rack size, players are asked to discard excess letters. Letters may be dragged back and forth between the board and rack until the player clicks 'commit', at which time the word is placed. At any point, uncommitted letters may be returned to the rack by shaking the device.

During a game turn, a player may place any number of words. However, each word must be placed and 'committed' before putting down the letters for the next word. Only horizontal and vertical words can be formed. As usual, proper nouns and abbreviations are not permitted. Any attack must be resolved before a word can finally appear on the board. Clicking 'End turn' signals the end of a player's turn.

A player can only build onto their own word network. If any placed tiles cross or are adjacent (horizontally or vertically) to the opponent's network, the placed word is considered to be attacking. The player has a chance to cancel word placement in this case or proceed with the attack.

Terrain and Cities:

The game board can have the following terrain types:

  • Plains: no effect on play, "honey onyx" on the board;
  • Lava: impassable barrier, "red onyx" on the board;
  • Forest: hinders word placement, "malachite" on the board;
  • Mountains: bonuses to attack and defense, "tigers eye" on the board;
  • Water: hinders word placement, "lapis luzuli" on the board;
  • Ice: hinders word placement, "white marble" on the board.

Terrain affects play in two ways: determining if a word may be placed, and modifying attack/defense bonuses:

  • Forest: the placed word must be strong enough to overcome the forest. Each forest tile adds 2 to the word score required for successful placement. A 'burning' word connotation multiplies final word score (by 1.5) when crossing forests. If the final word score matches or exceeds the forest's strength, the word is placed and forest tiles are burned and cleared to plains tiles.
  • Lava: lava tiles cannot be crossed under any circumstances;
  • Water: a word can cross water, but the end points must lie on valid terrain. A word crossing water is weaker for both attack and defense, suffering a -1 penalty to strength.
  • Ice: an ice tile will fracture and turn to water if a heavy (high scoring) letter is placed on it. A letter with a score of 2 or more will trigger this collapse.
  • Mountains: benefit attacker and defender. If a word crosses mountains, the face value of each letter placed on a mountain tile is multiplied by 1.5 when computing the word score. This may then be modified by other bonuses and penalties.

Each player begins with at least one city under their control, shaded the appropriate colour (gold or silver). Neutral cities are coloured pewter. These may be captured by either player and will then change to the appropriate player colour. Capturing an uncontested city does not provide any kind of score bonus. However, more than one city may allow a player to survive a devastating attack, such as volcanic eruption. Capturing a contested (enemy) city provides a +30 bonus to the victor. An occupied city confers a +2 defensive bonus to words built across it.

[See example of terrain]

Word status:

A word is disconnected if there is no path of letters connecting the word to any of the player's cities. Disconnected words are shown in grey and suffer a defensive penalty (a 0.6 multiplier) on word strength. Disconnected words do, however, contribute to a player's word score. However, they must be reconnected to the rest of the player's network before they can be of use once more. Disconnected words cannot be redeployed (see Redeployment).

A word may also be invalid. This occurs when an attack removes some letters of an existing word, or when an elemental invocation damages a word. These words are still in the network, but they contribute no score. They appear as adjacent letters with NO connecting link. If letters can be placed which create a new, valid word, the invalid word will be linked in once more and contribute normally. It is possible, however, that a word will remain invalid through the entire game due to a lack of suitable letters.

Elemental Tokens:

Certain tiles contain a special elemental (star) token. When a player builds a word across such a tile, the token is captured and placed on the player's rack. It may be used at any time during the player's turn. Although the token's position remains visible on the board, a captured token cannot be claimed by an opponent, even if they subsequently build over that tile.

Elemental tokens cannot be discarded, except through use (invocation). Using the token will trigger the corresponding elemental effect. This may be beneficial - invoking a drought token will dry out regions of water, for example. It could also be devastating - invoking a volcano token will cause a volcanic eruption and lava will spread over an unknown portion of the board, centered on the power-up location. Lava immediately destroys any letters it crosses. Stopping your opponent from capturing an elemental token is likely to be a good strategy. You will, however, lose space for regular letters while it is on your rack. You may possess multiple tokens.

The following elemental tokens are currently available:

  • Volcano (red jewel)- an eruption will spew lava over part of the board, destroying all it touches
  • Drought (amber jewel)- water in the region will be drained away, exposing plains
  • Flood (blue jewel) - water rises to cover the land, destroying all it touches
  • Firestorm (green jewel)- flame burns away all forested regions in the locality. No letters are damaged.

[See example of elemental tokens]

Word strength, bonuses and penalties:

In order to manage combat, we need to compute the word strength of the attacking or defending word. During combat, the word strength components are shown in the combat dialog using small ideograms.

Strength consists of the face value of the word modified by the relevant bonuses and penalties. The face value is the sum of the 'pips' for each letter in the word.

We then consider all the bonuses. These are listed below. First, we add in any bonus for mountain coverage. Any multiplicative penalties or bonuses affecting the WHOLE word are then applied. Finally, we apply the additive bonuses or penalties to the previously computed word strength to get the final value.

Connotations: words may possess one or more connotations, which can bolster their final attack/defense strength with a 1.5 multiplier applied for each connotation. The connotations are sneaking (ASSASSINATE), attacking (ASSAIL) and defensive (CASTLE). Sneaking connotations provide a bonus to both attacking and defending words. There is a special 'burning' connotation, which can bolster word strength across forests. This does not contribute to combat, however. A thicker connector between neighboring letters visually indicates a word with a defensive bonus.

Terrain modifiers: these modifiers are described under terrain, above. The city defense bonus is considered to be part of this category.

Word status modifiers: Disconnected words have been cut off from all cities and have a weakened 'supply line'. This imposes a 0.6 multiplier to their final defensive strength. You can only build onto such words in order to reconnect them to a city.

[See example of disconnected words]


A player's score is the sum of the base score and word score:

  • word score - each word in the player's network adds a value which is the sum of its letter values (number of pips on each letter coin)
  • base score - this is the sum of all bonuses awarded to the player, such as score from defeating a word or the bonus for capturing a contested city. Any penalties would also be applied to the base score. Its starts out as 0 and will increase and decrease during the course of the game.

When a word is defeated, the defender's word score will decrease by the face value of the lost word. The attacker's base score will increase by the face value of the of the captured word. In addition, the newly placed word will also contribute to the attacker's word score.

Capturing a contested city adds a +30 bonus to the victor's base score.

Resolving attacks:

A word must be placeable i.e. have the strength to cut through a forest, straddle water and so on. The following assumes a word is placeable and has just been committed to the board. Ice represents a special case. It is possible to place a too heavy word on ice, have it win and attack and then be destroyed as the ice collapses. This allows a strategic sacrifice on the part of the attacker.

When a newly placed word crosses - or is horizontally or vertically adjacent - to an opponent's word, combat begins.

To resolve combat the following occurs:

  1. the attacking word strength is computed;
  2. the defending word strength is computed;
  3. if the attacking word strength exceeds the defenders strength, then the attack succeeds, otherwise the attacker is repelled and his word defeated.

Winning an attack:

The defeated word is removed BUT only those letters that are not part of other words. The remaining words fragments may be invalid or remain valid. However, all word fragments are considered to be invalid for the remainder of the turn. These invalid words contribute nothing to defense strength. They are shown on the board as adjacent letters with no connecting links. At the end of the turn all invalid words are checked to see if they can be reactivated, and if so, they are restored and enter play once more.

The defense strength of the defeated word is added on to the attackers base score. This may be higher than the word face score.

The attacking word has its attack strength reduced by this same amount, but may continue to attack other words while its attack strength is greater than zero. Note that once an attack has commenced, ALL adjacent words must be defeated before victory can be declared and the word placed. This makes successfully attacking a tightly clustered word network very difficult.

Losing an attack:

If the attack is repelled, the attacker's score does not change. The letters placed to start the attack are removed from the board. However, the strength of the defeated attacking word is added as a penalty to the defending word for the remainder of the attacker's round. This can be seen during game play as a negative modifier positioned on the appropriate word(s). Subsequent attacks, during the same round, against this weakened word, are likely to succeed. When the attacker completes his turn, all word penalties arising from combat are removed.

[See example of combat number 1]

[See example of combat number 2]


A player is permitted one redeployment per turn. Redeployment allows a word to be 'lifted' and the letters to be returned to the players rack for immediate use. However, a word can only be lifted if there is only a single crossing word. The letters that do not form part of the remaining word are returned to the rack. Note that a defeated word (shown through unlinked neighboring letters) CAN be redeployed. However, a disconnected word (with no path to any occupied player city) CANNOT be redeployed.

[See example of redeployment]


A player may deploy 3 spies during the course of a game. A spy will allow you to gain strategic insight and the computer will find the strongest possible word for you based on the current board layout and the letters in your rack. The word will be laid on the board but not committed. If you wish to accept the suggestion, click commit. Otherwise shake the device to return the letters to your rack.

Winning the game:

The game ends when one player has conquered all of their opponent's cities or one of the players has drawn and played all of their letters. Alternatively, the game finishes if neither player has any letters left in the pool and they both pass for two successive turns. The winner is the player with the highest score.

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