Monday, February 13, 2012

Overanalyzing Hanging With Friends

Another strategy guide for Zynga's "etcetera With Friends" series.  The first one was for Words With Friends here.

For those of you mountain-dwellers, Hanging With Friends is the next corporate installment by Zynga in an attempt to squeeze as much money as they can out of their word-based net framework.  It's hangman.  Over the Interwebs.

The idea is you're given a tray of 12 letters to make a word between 4-8 letters long for your opponent to guess.  If he gets it wrong, he loses a balloon (i.e. one strike) and whoever gets five strikes first loses.  Then your opponent makes a word and vice versa.  Very simple.

This is just going to be a small guide of some tips I've picked up.  I'm no master but there's a lot of things that no one seems to notice.

Also, if you're a total asshat, scroll down.  I have a tip especially for you.

When guessing words:
Pay attention to the length of words.  Nine out of ten times, shorter words will either be unusual or contain odd letters (J, K, Q, V, W, X, Y, Z).  Longer words, on the other hand, often use common letters in blends.  This is mostly just psychological: People don't feel safe doing words like "RIDE" or "CAKE."  If it's four letters, there's an extremely high chance of an odd letter thrown in.  If it's six or seven letters, people naturally think "well hey, this word feels kind of hard to guess" and they'll use that instead.  There are some complicated long-words but I'll go over that in a bit.

Guessing short words (4-5 letters)

Step 1: Find a vowel.
Fairly easy.  Sometimes a vowel is even given to you at the start for whatever reason.  Usually I guess 'E' because a lot of words contain E in the middle and end.  Next up would be 'A' and 'O'.  And if there's still no letter, 'I' and 'U' in whatever order you feel, and 'Y' if there's still nothing (although this is extremely rare; words like SCRY and SPRY.  Not sure if there's any others?)

Note: Once you find one vowel, STOP.  Do not go and choose every other vowel.  Two reasons behind this: one, there's only 5 vowels (and the half-vowel Y).  In a 4-5 letter word, chances are you'll have one or two vowels max.  You'll essentially be throwing away 5 strikes for 2 letters.  Two, vowels won't help you figure out a word, but consonants will.  It's more economical to choose common consonants like S, or blend-friendly letters like R or L.

 Step 2: Figure out where blends land based on the positions of the vowels.

Blends being "PL", "SH", "FR", etc.  Ex:


There's a very good chance that the first two are consonants in a blend.  It's not impossible for a vowel to be in the first two spaces, such as in AWED or PIES, but it's unlikely, and in both cases you'd be smarter to guess D and S eventually because of the E in the second-to-last slot.


This one seems to imply an E at the end, to make SPACE or CRATE, but notice it's very unlikely that the E will be in the 1st or 4th spaces.  Better to guess would be S, which is very possible in the 5th space (in the case of a plural) or in the 1st space (in the case of an S-based blend, like ST, SN, or SL) and also fairly likely in the 4th space (as in FLASK or CLASH).


Notice the three spaces at the beginning of the word.  There are only 6 blends in the English language with exactly 3 consonants, being SHR, SPL, SPR, SQU, STR, and THR.  Notice they all share the letter 'S', except for the last one which isn't even possible in this case (THRAM?  THRAD?).  Makes sense to try 'S' here. If it doesn't appear in the 1st space, then you're guaranteed a vowel somewhere there.  I would try 'E' or 'I' first and 'O' or 'U' if those don't work.  Another possibility is to find the two-letter blend probably in the first two spaces, as in TRIAD, SHEAR, or PLEAD.  Once again, blend-friendly letters like 'L', 'R', and 'H' (somewhat) work well here.  If you're really feeling daring, go with 'D' or 'N' to hunt for the last letter.  But I wouldn't suggest it at all.


Very common structure.  This is sort of a deviation from the rule; it's overwhelmingly likely that an 'E' lies in the last space there (for RAKE, CARE, SANE, and a whole slew of possibilities).  Go with that.  If that doesn't work, consider the last two spaces a capped blend (BAND, CARD, YARN, etc).  The idea is that it's fairly infrequent to see 'A' right before another vowel (aside from AI or in very rare cases, AU).

Step 3: Using your intuition and some tips from Step 2, guess some letters to find a lead.

Finding the structure of the word is the hard part and will probably result in the most casualties strike-wise.  Always keep in mind where blends are, and use blend-friendly letters liberally.

I've mentioned "blend-friendly" letters a bunch but haven't really explained them, this is probably a nice place to do that.

Prefix-y blends:


Suffix-y blends:


There are more but those are the common ones.  Notice 'R', 'L', and 'S' appear often in prefixes while 'D', 'R', and 'N' appear often in suffixes.  If you have absolutely no idea, then these are letters you want to start off with.

It's kind of guesswork, really.  Don't be afraid to use up 5 or 6 strikes here.

Step 4: Hopefully you have one or two spaces left.  Guess unusual letters.

This goes hand-in-hand with the psychology bit I mentioned above.  People don't feel safe putting words like "CARE" or "MATE".  More likely, it'll be words like "WAVE" or "MAZE".  If it comes down to situations where both unusual and frequent letters can fit in a spot, pick the unusual one.


More than likely, this is either JAPS or ZAPS.  CAPS, GAPS, and LAPS are less likely.


AJAR seems more likely than AFAR here.  I think you get the idea.

Note: This really depends on who you're playing against.  Look at the previous words they place.  If they consistently do things like "RARE" and "BOAT" then maybe they're a variation to this rule.

Guessing long words (6-8 letters):

The great thing here is that while you have fewer guesses, it hardly matters because letters like 'E' and 'S' are almost guaranteed to be in the word somewhere, so you have a safe harbor when it comes to that.

Step 1: Spam common vowels and consonants until you get a lead in the word structure.

'E' and 'A' are the most obvious vowels, while 'R', 'S', and 'T' are also pretty safe.  Kind of the luck of the draw here.

Step 2: Find blends.  Always think of some possible words that fit the structure, and if they're solid enough, go with those, starting with the most likely letters.


BALLOONS or CARTOONS is possible.  In any case, I can't think of a single word that has an 'OO' like that and ends with a two-letter blend like that, so the last letter is probably an 'S'.


Logically, 'N' would land in the 7th space.  Not sure if anything else is possible there, actually.


It can be either BALLOONS or CARTOONS now.  Neither of them share any common remaining letters so I'm going with 'R' here.  'T' is also a fairly good guess; both are frequently-used letters.


'T' doesn't work here, nullifying the possibility of CARTOONS.  But HARPOONS works just fine.  That happens to be the correct word, actually.

I think you get the idea.

  • 'E' in the second-to-last space.  Likely followed by a 'D', an 'S', or an 'R', and less likely by an 'N'.
  • 'U' in the second space.  Possible 'Q' in the first space.
  • 'ING' in the last few spaces.
Now some real-time examples.  I'm typing out my thought process as I do them.  Some work, some don't.



Definitely a vowel in the first half, guessing 'E'.  One strike.  'A'.


Possibly an 'ING' at the end.  Guessing an 'N' because that seems to be a bit safer than the 'G' here.


Logically following up with 'G':


Second space could be an 'O' or a blend letter (probably an 'R' or an 'L').  'R' also fits nicely in the 4th space so I'm choosing that.  Two strikes.  'L' and 'H' both work in the 2nd slot, and 'O' is still a possibility.  Kind of guessing here, I'm choosing 'H'.  Seems like any word with 'O' in the 2nd slot would be too basic, anyways.  Three strikes.

At this point it's very very possible that I'm completely wrong and the 2nd letter is an 'O' but I really don't want to do that and I'm going to do 'S' in case it's SKATING or SWAYING instead.  Both of those have more unusual letters.


No kidding.  SKATING or SWAYING?  Going with the latter.  Chose 'W'.  Four strikes.  In hindsight, I should've done 'Y' in the case of SLAYING or STAYING or even SPAYING, but too late for that.  'Y'!

Augh, it was SKATING



'D', 'R', or 'S' at the end.  Going with 'S'.


Vowel somewhere in there, time to spam.  'A'?


Kind of wasn't expecting that.  Regardless there's still definitely a vowel in the five-space area.  'O'?  Nein.  'I':


AIRTIMES?  Not many words this could work with.  An 'R' definitely goes in the 3rd space though.


Going on my guess of AIRTIMES, 'T'.  Two strikes.  Derp, AIRLINES.  Kind of obvious.  I actually get this one right.



Guessing 'R', 'S', 'K', 'M' for the hell of it.


I'm assuming that considering his first and only other word was 'WINDY', he's part of that obscure-letters group.  Could be WART, WARD, YARD, WARE, etc.  'W'.  Four strikes.  Maybe 'VARY' even.  'Y'?


Kind of has to be 'VARY' now.  I get this one too.



All consonants, blend in the first two letters.  Thinking 'BREEZE' or 'FREEZE'.  Either way, 'R' works as a very possible 2nd letter.

Except for the fact that it's not.  One strike.

What about 'L'?  Might be 'SLEEVE'.  It's not that either.  'H'?  No.  'S'.  Still no.  The only other blend that can work is 'TW', really.  Guessing 'W'.


Then following with 'T' and 'Z' to get TWEEZE.  Success.

I'm really sick of this game now and my eyes hurt so I'm done.  Take this as you wish.
When making words:
Don't use double letters unless the letter is fairly uncommon.  Most people don't think of double 'W's or 'Z's.  Multiple 'E's, meanwhile, is suicide.

Try not to use common letters like R, S, and T.  Swap them out for more obscure letters.  'C' and 'K' seem to not be guessed too much for some reason.

Don't be predictable and play stuff like 'JAIL' or 'WAVE' where it's obvious that the only reason your word is pathetically short and contains so many simple letters is because you have one obscure letter in there that compensates for it.  Smart people will catch on.

Also, pay attention to what your opponent guesses.  I'm playing with this one guy that always guesses R, S, and T right off the bat, without fail, so I'm specifically avoiding those letters.

I'd make this section longer but I'm really tired.


Now, for you no-life, semi-precious jerks:

TIP: Play Scramble With Friends, go down the word-list, and write down some of the more ridiculous words to play in Hanging With Friends.

If you want to play me, my ID is ThatSnail.

Hope you found this useful.  Maybe.


  1. Wow, this post is fastidious, my sister is analyzing these kinds of things, therefore I am going to
    let know her.

    My webpage; Twitter Account

  2. An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto
    a coworker who has been doing a little research on this.
    And he actually ordered me dinner due to the fact that
    I stumbled upon it for him... lol. So allow me to reword this.
    ... Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending the time to discuss this matter
    here on your site.

    Here is my homepage ... twitter password

  3. I like what you guys are up also. Such clever
    work and reporting! Keep up the excellent works guys I've incorporated you guys to my blogroll. I think it will improve the value of my website :).

    Feel free to surf to my web-site: Help for recovering twitter account

  4. Hi there! Do you know if they make any plugins to help with Search Engine Optimization?
    I'm trying to get my blog to rank for some targeted keywords but I'm not seeing very good success.

    If you know of any please share. Thank you!

    Also visit my site ... Youtube view bot

  5. Very excellent information can be found on weblog .
    "Education is what most receive, many pass on, and few possess." by Karl Kraus.

    Feel free to visit my page :: adfly

  6. What's up to all, the contents present at this web page are really remarkable for people experience, well, keep up the nice work fellows.

    Visit my web page - Online TV Series

  7. Usually I do not read post on blogs, but I wish to say
    that this write-up very forced me to check out and do so!
    Your writing taste has been amazed me. Thanks,
    quite nice post.

    my web site Aimbot.Net

  8. If some one wishes to be updated with newest technologies then he must be
    pay a quick visit this web site and be up to date all the time.

    Here is my web page - psn codes

  9. I almost never create comments, however after looking at through
    a few of the comments here "Overanalyzing Hanging With Friends".
    I do have a couple of questions for you if it's allright. Could it be just me or do a few of these remarks come across like they are coming from brain dead individuals? :-P And, if you are writing at other online sites, I'd like to follow
    anything fresh you have to post. Could you make a list of every one of
    your social sites like your linkedin profile, Facebook page or twitter feed?

    Also visit my weblog :: minecraftforfree

  10. I am in fact glad to glance at this weblog posts
    which contains tons of useful facts, thanks for providing these kinds of

    Feel free to surf to my page: Great GPT Site

  11. I like the helpful info you supply for your articles.
    I will bookmark your weblog and take a look at once more right here regularly.
    I am slightly certain I'll learn plenty of new stuff right here! Good luck for the next!

    Feel free to surf to my homepage :: cs 1.6 aimbot