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How to play Panda Poet

Introduction

"Panda Poet" is a two-player word game played with letter tiles on a board--you may be familiar with "Scrabble" or "Words With Friends" which are also word games played with letter tiles on a board. The screenshot below shows an example of the Panda Poet board midway through a game.

PP_Midgame_Screenshot.jpg

Unlike the other games I mentioned, Panda Poet starts with all of the letter tiles already on the board. Most of these are face-down (indicated by the squares with fruits or green grass), but some letter tiles start face-up and others will be turned face-up as the game progresses. Also, unlike the other games I mentioned, the quantities of each letter are random--in one game your board may have 5 Z's, and in the next game there may not be any Z's.

Gameplay

The two players alternate turns. On your turn, you should look at the face-up tiles on the board and try to find a valid word to spell using as many of the face-up tiles as you wish. (There is a minimum word length of 3 in most game modes, and words requiring capitalization are not allowed. The tiles don't have to be adjacent to each other; as long as they are face-up, they can be used.) When you find the word that you want to spell, click the appropriate tiles in order to spell the word (if you make a mistake, click the tile again to un-select it), then click the Submit button. The tiles used turn into pandas--white for you, brown for your opponent--and any face-down tiles adjacent to the ones just played are turned face-up so that there are more tiles to play. Then your turn is over and you wait for your opponent to take his/her turn. Play proceeds in this manner until there are no more valid words to make. Then the game is over and the player with the highest score wins (more on scoring in the next section).

Note that Panda Poet is a "play-by-mail" game--it may be hours or even days before your opponent takes his/her turn. (But it could also happen in under a minute if your opponent is online and waiting to respond to your move.) As such, we recommend one of the following approaches to the game:

  • Have several games going, each with a different person. This will increase the chances that, whenever you log in, there will be at least one game waiting for you to take your turn.
  • Arrange with a friend to play Panda Poet with each other at a particular time. You and your friend can take your turns quickly because you'll see their move as soon as it is made and can send yours back immediately.

Scoring

Points are scored in two ways. We call the points "Word Points" and "Panda Points" according to how they are earned.

Word Points

First, each time you play a word, you gain points corresponding to the letter tiles used in that word. These points are called "Word Points". Each letter has a point value ( https://spryfox.zendesk.com/entries/23569882-What-are-the-point-values-for-the-various-letters- ), and you gain that letter's point value when you use it in your word. For example, if you were to spell the word "BIG", you'd earn 6 Word Points--the B is worth 3, the I is worth 1, the G is worth 2, and  3+1+2=6.

There are some special tiles that, when used in your word, will give you more Word Points than normal. These are described in the Fruits and Bonus Tiles section a bit later.

Word Points are tracked on the left side of the scoreboard, and they can never be lost or stolen once you've earned them.

Panda Points

The second way to score points is by owning Big Pandas at the end of the game. These points are called "Panda Points". Only Big Panda ownership at the end matters; there are no points for their creation, growth, or mid-game ownership.

You can learn more about creating, growing, and stealing Big Pandas in the Big Pandas section a bit later.

Panda Points are tracked on the right side of the scoreboard. They are kept separate from the Word Points on the left side because Big Pandas can change owners prior to the end of the game and your Panda Points will go up or down accordingly.

Winning

When the visible tiles contain no more playable words, the game ends. A player's score is the sum of his/her Word Points and his Panda Points. The player with the highest score wins! If the game ends in a tie score, the person playing the final move is declared the winner.

Fruits and Bonus Tiles

Some letter tiles have bonuses--they are either worth 10 points (more than any other letter tile) or they are worth only one point but will multiply the value of your entire word by 2, 3, or 4. You gain the bonus effect by using the relevant tile in your word. These bonus tiles can be recognized by the '+10', '2X', '3X', or '4X' written in the corner of the tile. Here are some examples:

PP_Plus_10_Example.jpg PP_2X_Example.jpg PP_3X_Example.jpg PP_4X_Example.jpg

Bonus tiles are always hidden under Fruits:

PP_Pear_Icon.jpg PP_Apple_Icon.jpg PP_Cherry_Icon.jpg

You can learn more about the bonus tiles and fruits here: https://spryfox.zendesk.com/entries/21705414-What-do-the-fruits-do-

Big Pandas

Creation

A Big Panda is created when 4 or more little pandas fill a rectangle that is at least 2 tall and at least 2 wide. The Big Panda initially belongs to the player who created it, but it can change owners multiple times throughout the course of the game through growing.

Growth

A Big Panda must always occupy a full rectangle, and will grow if there are no Rocks or other Big Pandas adjacent to them blocking their growth in a particular direction and someone plays the final tile adjacent to that side of the Big Panda.

Stealing

A Big Panda that grows will take the color of the player who played the move that made it grow--this is how ownership of Big Pandas can change during a game (i.e., if you grow your opponent's Big Panda, you will steal it!).

Sleeping

A Big Panda goes to sleep when there is no more room for it to grow in any direction. Since it can no longer grow, it can no longer change owners. Thus whoever owns a sleeping Big Panda is guaranteed those points at the end of the game since the Big Panda can no longer grow and change owners in doing so.

Points

A Big Panda is worth 2 times the number of squares it occupies. For example:

  • A 3x3 Big Panda is worth 18 points. 2x(3x3)=18.
  • A 5x7 Big Panda is worth 70 points. 2x(5x7)=70.

Game Boards

There are a number of different Panda Poet game boards. You can learn more about the various boards here: https://spryfox.zendesk.com/entries/23155936-What-are-the-various-Panda-Poet-boards-

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