Upwords: The Ultimate Guide to Rules, Winning Strategies and Play Instructions


Upwords is a fascinating board game that combines elements of word creation with the strategic element of building upwards. This game, which is often compared to Scrabble, offers a twist as players can stack letters on top of existing words to create new ones (hence the name of the game).

The game was first introduced in the 1980s and has since gained popularity among word game enthusiasts. To play Upwords, you need a game board, letter tiles, and tile racks for each player.

If you’re looking to expand your word game playing beyond Upwords or Scrabble, I do recommend checking out Boggle which I’ve also written a guide on!

Quick Tip

Always aim to build words upwards. This not only gives you more points but also opens up new opportunities for word creation.

Rules for playing Upwords

  1. Each player starts with seven tiles drawn at random.
  2. Players take turns to form words on the board, either by using new tiles or by stacking on top of existing words.
  3. Words can be formed horizontally or vertically, but not diagonally.
  4. Each tile in a word scores one point, plus one point for each tile under it.
  5. The game ends when all tiles have been used and no player can make a move.
  6. The player with the highest score wins.

House rules can be introduced for variations of the game. For instance, you can limit the maximum height of stacks or introduce bonus points for using difficult letters.

How to Play Upwords


Each player draws seven tiles at random and places them on their tile rack. The game board is placed in the center of the table.


  1. The first player forms a word on the board, using at least two tiles.
  2. Subsequent players can form new words or build on existing words by stacking tiles.
  3. Players must always have seven tiles on their rack. They draw new tiles after their turn.

End of the Game

The game ends when all tiles have been used and no player can make a move. The player with the highest score wins.

How to Win at Upwords

Winning at Upwords requires a combination of word knowledge, strategic thinking, and a bit of luck. Here are some strategies to help you win:

  1. Build upwards: This is the essence of Upwords. Building words upwards gives you more points and opens up new opportunities for word creation.
  2. Use difficult letters: Letters like Q, Z, J, and X are worth more points. Try to use them in your words whenever possible.
  3. Block your opponents: If you see an opportunity to block your opponents from building a high-scoring word, take it. This can be a game-changing move.

Best Strategies for playing Upwords game

Mastering Upwords requires a deep understanding of the game’s mechanics and a well-thought-out strategy. Here are some tips to help you improve your game:

  1. Plan your moves: Before you make a move, consider how it will affect the board and your future moves. Try to anticipate your opponents’ moves and plan accordingly.
  2. Control the board: Try to control the center of the board. This gives you more opportunities to build words and makes it harder for your opponents to block you.
  3. Save your tiles: Don’t use all your tiles in one move. Having more tiles gives you more options and flexibility.

Scenarios for Upwords

Playing Upwords can lead to a variety of scenarios, both good and bad. Here are some common scenarios and how to handle them:

  1. You’re running out of tiles: If you’re running low on tiles, try to use your existing tiles to build words upwards. This will give you more points and help you catch up.
  2. Your opponent is blocking you: If your opponent is consistently blocking your moves, try to change your strategy. Consider building words in a different part of the board or using your tiles to block them instead.
  3. You’re in the lead: If you’re in the lead, try to maintain your advantage by building high-scoring words and blocking your opponents.

Frequently Asked Questions about playing Upwords game

  1. Can I stack tiles on top of any word? Yes, you can stack tiles on top of any word as long as the resulting stack forms a valid word.
  2. What happens if I can’t make a move? If you can’t make a move, you can choose to pass your turn. If all players pass their turn consecutively, the game ends.
  3. Can I challenge a word? Yes, you can challenge a word if you think it’s not valid. If the word is invalid, the player who formed it loses their turn.
  4. How many tiles can I stack on top of each other? There’s no limit to the number of tiles you can stack on top of each other. However, the higher the stack, the harder it is to form a valid word.
  5. Can I form words diagonally? No, words can only be formed horizontally or vertically.

For more information about Upwords, visit the official game website here.

Upwords Competitive Playing League