Making NG work

Certain letter combinations can be tricky to use in Spell the Beans. One we sometimes avoid but occasionally can’t resist is NG. Making NG work well can take a bit of finesse. We’ll look at some games here where it came into play. Words we made as always are in bold type.

Spell the Beans 177 points with ing

First, above, an unintentional double dip that didn’t end up panning out much. Yes, we got arming and a couple other words, but G is often valuable in other ways, which we had to forgo here. The left G came late when the letters-that-be wouldn’t begrudge a hoped-for E, denying us mined, denim, and possibly more. The moral of the story: Fate sometimes favors using G to start rather than end things.

Spell the Beans 225 points with aligned

Next, the stars aligned more favorably with agile use of GN as well as NG in this game from the ides of April. We weren’t pained with the denial of what we gambled for, even getting jag for our trouble. Not many points for that, but satisfying. We had Jenga in the back of our mind, but that wouldn’t have been proper anyway. You can always check whether a word will be counted during a game by tapping in the long rectangle at the top and typing the word with Return.

Spell the Beans 225 points with idling

Ready for anything

We did waste Cs that came late. We were hoping to line up soccer out of it, but the S that subbed for the no-show R did gin up the score with plurals like tides, pales, and ales. It also led to seccos. Surprisingly, it means kind of what we guessed it did: painting on dry plaster. It always pays to think of alternative possibilities to react to whatever may happen.

Spell the Beans 170 points with calling

Deliciously different

If you’re going to use NG, words ending in ING are a natural. You can extend short words to get two or three for one. Above, the capricious oracle of letters came calling again to align NG both ways, if not for all that many points. These things are more of an art than a science, and aren’t always just about the score. Even when we get stung with less than optimal letters, words like vanilla and nuts make the coffee taste fun on the tongue.

Spell the Beans 170 points with vanilla

And sometimes the tang is completely different. Below, the ING came at the beginning of ingrates for a nice eight-letter side dish. We piggy-backed on the higher-percentage GR word-starter that allows for grated, gated, and so on. It’s one of our oldest tricks. The C also plugs into the R for crates, etc., and the R itself starts off rates and rated. That’s where G’s real power often lies. But sometimes it’s fun just to play around, so don’t be afraid to smell the coffee and see what comes up from the letter lode.

Spell the Coffee 234 points with ingrates


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