How does the first-word-is-double-points rule affect the game of scrabble? From a game design point of view.

I wonder if it gives an (additional?) advantage to the first player, or actually makes the game more fair than it would have been if the word were scored normally.

2 Answers 2


In any turn-based board game, there is an advantage difference depending on the order of play. Any game with a competitive tournament scene (which Scrabble has) will attempt to negate this advantage as much as possible, giving each player as close to equal odds of winning as possible.

Which is to say, if the first player gets an automatic double word score, then that is because the designer of the game felt that doing so would reduce the imbalance between first player and later players, rather than increase it.

Why would a guaranteed double word score help balance the game?

Going first is not necessarily a good thing. Going second in Scrabble is often a lot easier than going first, because of the increased flexibility. The first player must make a word out of their 7 letters. The second player has 7 letters, plus the letters already on the board. Yes, they must include one of the letters on the board, which is a hinderance, but having 2-7 extra letters to work with usually makes up for it. Plus, the player going second has guaranteed access to double letter scores, and often triple letter scores, or even double word scores. While players may not have the ability to take advantage of them every turn, there will be bonus spaces available in practically every future turn of the game. Making no bonus spaces available for the first play would be quite the disadvantage when looked at that way!

  • 1
    [In any turn-based board game, there is an advantage difference depending on the order of play] - Citation required
    – Valorum
    Commented Aug 6, 2023 at 10:14
  • 1
    @Valorum 0 is a difference!
    – Brady Gilg
    Commented Aug 8, 2023 at 19:26

In starting a game of scrabble, tiles are drawn to know the first player. I think the game intends to give the first player an advantage, making it more competitive, so players try their best to pick a tile close to A. Another thing is that the second player most times has the chance of scoring higher than the first player because of the double-letter tiles sorrounding the beginning point. If anything, the rule just makes the game fair

  • 3
    What do you have to back up that opinion on this?
    – Joe W
    Commented Aug 5, 2023 at 23:08
  • 4
    Given that the tiles are drawn out of a bag unseen how would "players try their best to pick a tile close to A"? Commented Aug 6, 2023 at 14:41

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