Scoring and Gameplay

Object

The object of Spell the Beans is to make words from random letters by placing the letters on a pattern of coffee beans, bubbles or hearts. The letters come up one at a time, and you can place a letter on any bean, bubble or heart that doesn’t already have one. You form words when three or more letters on adjacent beans, etc., make up an English word.

Words can be formed in any direction, along any meandering path, as long as the letters form a continuous string that doesn’t reuse its own letters – each placed letter (each bean, etc.) is only used once in any given word (there’s no looping back on a bean/bubble/heart you’ve already used in a given word), although the same letter may come up multiple separate times in a single word or game.

Longer words score progressively more points per letter than shorter words, but the scoring is based only on word length and the number of words, not on how frequently the letters occur in English (A counts the same as Z, as does everything in between).

No letter will appear more than five times in a single game, and if there is a Q, there will always be at least one U, although the random order of letter appearance means the Q may come up after the U. The presence of a U does not necessarily mean there will be a Q.

Scoring

Word length Points Based on
3 letters 1 (🎨♥︎=3) —
4 letters 2 (🎨♥︎=8) 1 (above left) + 1
5 letters 4 (🎨♥︎=20) 2 (above left) + 2
6 letters 7 4 (above left) + 3
7 letters 11 7 (above left) + 4
8 letters 16 11 (above left) + 5
9 letters 22 16 (above left) + 6
10 letters 29 22 (above left) + 7
11 letters 37 29 (above left) + 8
12 letters 46 37 (above left) + 9
13 letters 56 46 (above left) + 10
14 letters 67 56 (above left) + 11
15 letters 79 67 (above left) + 12

Gameplay

• Tap the New Game button any time to create a new puzzle. The first letter to place will appear in blue in the upper left corner. Tap any bean, bubble or heart to place the first letter. The next letter to place will appear. Again, place the new letter in any empty bean, etc. you want (it doesn’t have to be next to a bean, etc. you’ve already put a letter in).

• If you want to see if something is an allowable word, tap anywhere in the central search rectangle in the top bar, type the word, and press Return on the keyboard. If it’s allowed, the area will briefly display “Ok.” Both US and British spellings are accepted. If you’ve chosen not to allow profane words to be counted, searches for such words will result in “Not found.” Note: A recent revision to the wordlist may have led to occasional erratic behavior in the word search area. If you experience difficulty, please quit the app, use the iOS app switcher (usually activated by double-tapping the home button) to remove the app from the background rotation, and reopen the app.

• Continue until you’ve placed all 25 letters in the beans, bubbles or hearts. If you’ve chosen to show the words you’ve formed, they’ll appear in the column to the left of the beans, etc. as you go.

• To see where these words appear in the beans, bubbles or hearts anytime, drag your finger up or down anywhere in the main area of the beans, etc.. If you’re right-handed, you don’t have to block your view by reaching across the screen to touch the column itself (the column itself reacts to gestures in a normal scrolling manner; highlighting is achieved by dragging in the bean area). As you drag your finger, each word will be highlighted in the beans, etc., as well as in the column.

• If your words extend beyond the top or bottom of the column, you can scroll the list by flicking up or down in the column itself. Long words in the column that extend beyond the width of the column will be fully visible when highlighted. Long words are truncated when not highlighted to avoid clutter from potential overlapping with beans, etc. and letter placement.

• When you’ve finished, you can see your final score in the upper right corner. If you tap the score, you’ll see the number of words you formed, and tapping again will display the longest word you made. You can toggle through these any time during a game, leaving the area showing whatever you wish, continually updated as you place more letters.

• If you’ve chosen to play Blu Yonder (against the app), tapping the switch icon in the top bar (the icon appears next to the score area after you’ve finished a game) will display what Blu Yonder came up with using the same letters you used, as well as its score/number of words/longest word. Tie final scores against Blu Yonder are considered wins for you. To toggle back to your solution, tap the switch icon again. The score area in the top right can be left in any state when switching between your solution and Blu Yonder’s (see video below).

Variations: Beans, Bubbles, Hearts, Suits, Cyrano

For a different flavor to the basic game, long-press the New Game button to bring up the game manager. The rounded top button of the game manager is divided into two parts.

Choosing the left side (Info/Select) lets you:

1) get information about game variations by swiping right on a game name and tapping the revealed info icon, or
2) select the game you want to play by swiping left and tapping the revealed checkmark. The currently selected game’s entire row is highlighted in olive. Note: Simply tapping the name of a game variation has no effect. Firmly swipe left or right to reveal an icon and take some action.

Press the right side of the top button (Reorder) to vertically drag game variations up or down (grabbing onto the three-bar reorder icon on the right) to group or keep your favorites within easy reach. After selecting or reordering, tap “Done” at the upper right of the game manager to begin play again.

Spell the Coffee

Currently, besides the classic default Spell the Beans game, there are four other variations or modes available. Spell the Coffee has the same rules as the classic version, with bubbles in spilled coffee instead of beans. Bubble patterns are more tightly packed, leading to higher scores. You may find it easier to beat Blu Yonder in this game.

Love Letters

The third variation, Love Letters, may require the least thinking. It features colored candy hearts to stamp with letters. There are five colors, with five hearts of each color. The scoring works a bit differently: Words whose hearts are all different colors score more than usual.

Multicolored three-letter words score three times as much (3 instead of 1 point); Four-letter words score four times as much (8 points instead of 2); And five-letter words score five times as much (20 points instead of 4). Words with more than one of the same color heart score as usual.

Dragging your finger in the hearts area highlights regular words in cool blue hearts, and bonus point words in cinnamon red hearts. In the scoring chart above, all-different-colored heart (bonus) cases are indicated by a palette and heart (🎨♥︎). The Love Letters scoring system has the overall effect of somewhat leveling the playing field for players not especially trying to make long words.

8-Spot

8-Spot starts the game with the first several letters already randomly placed, or “spotted.” The number of spots ranges from 5 to 8, which correspond to different playing card suits. Spades start with 5 spots, clubs 6, diamonds 7, and hearts 8 (hardest challenge). The suit in each game is chosen randomly, as are spotted letters and locations.

Each time you use a spotted letter to make a word, you get a bonus point. A spotted letter can gain any number of bonus points (once in each word that it appears), and a word scores bonus points for each spotted letter it has.

To distinguish them from white letters you place, spotted letters have a grayed appearance for black suits, and appear pale red for red suits. Similarly, when you drag to highlight your words in the icon area, highlight colors also differ between letters you placed and spotted ones.

As spotting letters creates more of a challenge, there are some adjustments besides bonus points to mitigate the burden: The 25 letters you get will tend to be easier to make words with than usual (as well as progressively easier from spades to hearts), and the pattern of icons will be slightly “knottier” than some other variations, creating more chances to make words. Blu Yonder faces the same spotted letters and locations as you.

Cyrano

The latest addition is Cyrano. Normally, the next letter to place appears in blue in the top left corner. In this variation, three of the 25 letters will appear red. You place these anywhere as usual, and they’ll stay red where you put them, while the other letters will be black after placing. Each of the three red letters will, for scoring purposes, add one more “ghost” letter to any word they appear in.

For example, a 5-letter word normally scores 4 points, but if it contains a red letter, it’s considered (5+1=) 6 letters, and scores 7 points (see normal scoring chart). Or if a 3-letter word contains two red letters, it counts as a (3+2=) 5-letter word, scoring 4 points instead of 1. Cyrano chooses three different red letters randomly, and only the red instance of a given letter has this extra scoring power. If there’s a red S and a blue (placed as black) S, only the red S scores extra. For stat purposes (longest words, etc.), normal word length is counted, ignoring red letters. High score stats will take red letter boosting into account.

What’s different about this mode is, you can choose what locations the special scoring letters are in. Though the letters themselves are random, choosing central or well-connected locations will tend to increase your score more. Cyrano’s lettering and highlighting stands out better in some color themes than others. Play around to find one that works for you.

Under some circumstances, when selecting Spell the Coffee, it may take a few moments to create a new puzzle, as well as to show Blu Yonder’s score. Other planned variations feature non-coffee themes as well as varied rules and scoring. Since gameplay and typical scores differ for each game type, separate stats are kept for each variation.


The video below simply shows how to drag to display words, and toggle through points, number of words, and longest words, as well as switching from your results to Blu Yonder’s.

Comments: 1

  1. […] one-off fixed image with normal random letter generation for a quickie cheapo variation update. The game manager is there and re-orderable for a reason. Coffee was always just a jumping off point, and mixing […]

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