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How to win at ‘Hanging With Friends’

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Hanging With Friends (Zynga)

What happens when Zynga Scrabble-a-like smash Words With Friends meets traditional guessing game Hangman? Hanging With Friends is the answer, and it's been a huge hit in the App Store and Android market alike.

But what happens when "Hanging" with friends turns into "Getting Beaten By" friends? The fun stops, that's what. If that's the case for you, turn that frown upside-down with these tips.

Make shorter words

When in doubt, go...short? Yes, longer words look very impressive, and yes, we're sure you're very proud of your Scrabble skills, but as you add letters, you give your opponents more targets for their guesses. Keeping your puzzles short and sweet will keep them guessing -- and the quicker they go through those wrong answers, the quicker you'll rack up the wins.

What to do if you don't get a vowel for free

"But you always get a vowel for free," we hear you complain. In fact, that's something of a myth — and appropriately, that word gives us the perfect case in point.

Hanging With Friends only recognizes the letters A, E, I, O, and U as vowels. Play the word "myth," which has none of these, and your opponent won't get any starting letters at all. So if you see a word with nothing but blanks, go straight for the "Y" -- and whatever you do, don't let it break your rhythm.

Happy families

Fall. Tall. Hall. Ball. Call. Gall. Pall. Mall. Wall. Though there's nothing inherently difficult about any of these words, they're nevertheless a guesser's nightmare. Why? The "-all" suffix is easy enough, but hitting that initial consonant is just a matter of crossing fingers and guessing, and blind luck ain't a good way to win games. Learn those common word endings -- here's a great resource -- and get in the habit of scanning your letter selection for them every turn.

Use double letters

For much the same reason, words with doubled rare letters are good picks. Steer clear of the EEs, the AAs, and the RRs, but favor the  VVs, BBs, and GGs. "JAZZ" is reputedly the hardest Hangman word ever partly for this reason, but good luck playing that in Hanging with Friends. Yes, it's possible, but you're going to need a very lucky draw indeed.

Get your RSTLN in

Wrestling? Rustling? Whatever mnemonic you pick to remember that sequence of letters, commit it to memory. As any 'Wheel of Fortune' fan will know, they're five of the most common consonants in English, and that makes them a great starting point for your Hanging With Friends guesses. Conversely, it also makes a good list of letters to avoid when you're the one setting the word.

Some players find it easier to guess with a few more vowels, too, and if that's you, you probably want to opt for the less memorable sequence ETAOINSH, which has the convenient advantage of being ordered by each letter's relative frequency.

Save your lifelines

Hanging With Friends' lifelines are expensive, and they're not necessarily all that useful. They'll either give you extra guesses or narrow down the pool of possible letters, but they're far from an instant victory.

Resist the temptation to reach for them unless you're absolutely sure they'll help -- like, say, if you've already figured out the only two possible answers, and you're down to your last guess. Once you've used them up, there's no going back, and you'll have to make a whole lot of words (or give Zynga your lunch money, via the game's in-app purchase option) to earn some more.

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