I recently played a few games of Word Thief, and thoroughly enjoyed them. The game works sort of like Rummikub, except with letters (to build words) instead of card tiles (to build sets and straights). There is a similar component of building sets of things, and stealing from your neighbors.
The main difference is that when stealing from your neighbors, any word you steal will cost them points. In addition, you get bonuses for long words and for using all of your letters.
However, there is a rule that states that on your turn you can only steal one word from one other player. This gives you incentives to steal long, valuable words from another player, especially if it contains the current "trump" suit (worth more points).
I quickly discovered a few useful rules of thumb when playing this game.
- Always use all of your letters. It's nearly always possible if you have time to think it through, especially if you follow the next rule. Also, the more letters you use, then the more points you will score, as the game has a finite length based on who finishes first.
- Make lots of short, crappy words. Even though making words of all the same suit will "lock" them (thereby preventing players from stealing them), in general, the other players won't want to steal a really small, less valuable words. In addition, by making lots of small words, it is easier to use all of your tiles, and the damage from having a word stolen is minimized.
- Punish your opponents for long words. If they only play a long word on their turn, steal it (thereby taking away a lot of their points) and turn it into a ton of small words, punishing them for making a long word.
I love competitive word games. But I, at least, have to remember that a lot of my friends who like to play word games like Word Thief are not hardcore gamers, so maybe I shouldn't be so competitive with them.