Budget Gamer: Wordspionage Is Fun For the Devious Wordsmith

Wordspionage is a mobile game app that puts a new spin on the traditional Words With Friends/Scrabble multiplayer word game and adds a layer of trickery and deceit to the proceedings, creating a pretty solid new timewaster for our smartphones.

Here’s how it works: at its heart, Wordspionage is really just a game of Scrabble – you get letter tiles with different score values, you spell out words like on a crossword that is covered with score modifiers, and you play until you run out of tiles. Winner is the person with the highest score. How Wordspionage differs is by throwing new gameplay elements into the mix. To go along with the spy theme of the game, they’re called Special Operations. Every time you get a black tile, a spinning wheel pops up, and you swipe it on your touchscreen to determine which Special Ops you get. Each one does a different thing: everything from stealing half of your opponent’s last word score and adding it to your own, to looking at what letters they have, to disabling the use of score modifiers for a turn. Most of these actions cost in-game money, but you start out with $1000 and there are plenty of ways to earn it without having to spend IRL cash. (I played the free version of the game, which I found to be one of the least monetizationally pushy free apps I have probably ever played.) Wordspionage is definitely a much better game with the Special Ops than without them. I won more than one game by using my Special Ops strategically: if you use them right, it’s entirely possible to take an opponent’s lead entirely away from them. It’s very fun, and maybe I spent some time cackling over my opponent’s misfortune (sorry friends I wrangled into playing with me). You can also have multiple players on one board, which is a nice touch as well (most other word games are one-on-one only).

Wordspionage flash bomb

The app is a bit glitchy though, and could do with some improvements. There is a persistent problem where the app signs you out in the middle of trying to make game moves, though this mostly seemed to be a problem when not using my home wifi, and was also a problem for friends I was playing the game with. There really needs to be a zoom-in feature on the board. It can be difficult to find people and add them to the game. The algorithm that determines who and when you get black tiles could be a little better, because sometimes it can take way too long to get them. Luckily, Napland Games informed me that the next game update, which is coming soon, will feature fixes for some of these problems, particularly the board zoom. (Which it really, really needs.)

So, if you’re a word game buff but are looking for something a bit different, I would definitely recommend Wordspionage. You should play a game with me! My username is Megano. I will probably not play fair.

Wordspionage is available for ios and Android, for the very low price of $2. There are also free versions of the game available, which include fairly non-invasive in-app advertising.

Disclosure: The author played the free version of this game at the request of the developer.  However, this review reflects only the opinions of the author, and not those of the developers or distributor.

Writer, editor, and founding member of Paper Droids. RPG-lover, baby game maker, owned by corgi. Spends way too much time on Twitter @mk_patter. To reach by email: sciandtech@paperdroids.com

  • Ooooh, I think my brother will like this app, if he hasn’t already got it – he’s a total Scrabble fanatic 😉 He wins every family game!

    • Hi, enchantedsleeper. Please tell your brother about Wordspionage! And have him challenge me, code name Madeline, if he dares. 😉

  • Thank you for the review, Megan! Glad to hear you had fun playing Wordspionage. 🙂
    -Shannon Ahn, co-owner of Napland Games