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This is a bit disjointed, but here's most of what I try to do. It's starts out a bit "depends on the situation", but I tried to drop some "in general" nuggets too:

  • Analyze the mechanics specific to the board, which action tiles are in the supply, and each player's talents (if enabled).
  • Determine if you even want to be part of this game.
  • Determine the top two or three methods for gaining points.  Usually there are order of magnitude divisions between these.
  • Determine the top two or three methods for giving negative points to your opponent(s).
  • Commit to these methods.  For instance, don't use action tiles you wouldn't otherwise play on a given turn just to get the 1000 point Bingo if the game is going to be decided by Ice during Snowstorms with billion point scores.
  • The more difficult a letter is to play, the higher the priority to play it.  Don't be fooled by the numbers on the tiles: C & V are the hardest letters to play, not the 10-pointers!
  • Favor playing consonants over vowels.  At the end of the game, if you've got nothing but vowels, this is much easier to deal with than nothing but consonants.  You're only going to be so lucky, so often, to be able to play CWM, BRR, TSK or PSST to end a game.
  • Favor longer words over shorter words.  I know this sounds obvious, but the number of opponents I've had where I ended the game having played 4x as many letters… it feels necessary to say.
  • Actions don't do anything for you when they're in your rack.  The number of times I've emptied the supply to only find out that my opponent has 2 or 3 letters in their rack.  It's hard to play words when you have so few letters to choose from.
  • Don't be afraid to destroy your own letters.  The dominant strategy on Pools of Life applies to other boards and in other situations.  The takeaway is that it is better to do slight damage to yourself now rather than allow the environment or your opponent(s) to do massive damage to you in the future.
  • Learn to play without Shields or Frost Bombs.  They can be crutches that promote "first to market" strategies that may not fall in line with those original determinations.  Or worse, promote denial of playable area strategies that are simply un-fun, IMHO.  (See "Determine if you even want to be a part of this game.")
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