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Spell-or-Starve: An Advanced Strategy Guide

by swordlilly


*tummy rumble*

In this game, you play a Purple Mynci who has been captured by an evil computer called Neopets V2. Well, it isn't evil exactly; it's just lonely and wants a friend to play with. Except it doesn't value the biological life of its friend. So unless you play its word-game, it won't let you go, and you will starve. (Ahhhhh!)

There are three modes of difficulty in this game: Easy, Medium, and Hard. The gameplay is basically the same, except in the harder modes there are more tiles and the scoring requirement is higher. If you want to achieve a high score, you'll want to play on Hard Mode.

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This game is best played with a mouse. You make words by stringing together tiles that are touching each other. When you select some tiles, they will be highlighted: in green if the game recognizes them as a word, in yellow if it doesn't. Clicking and dragging your pointer through the tiles, as opposed to clicking each tile individually, is the fastest way to make a word. Here I've used a purple pen to outline the path of dragging:

To submit the word, you can either press the spacebar or click "Submit Word." It is faster to use the spacebar.

Clicking the arrow on either side of "Submit Word" will rotate the screen, resulting in a partial shuffle.

On Level One, there will be two black-and-yellow-striped tiles which act like blockers and cannot be selected. On Level Five, there will be five of them, making it harder to find long words.

Each level will have one special tile, marked by a red x2 in the corner. This is the multiplier tile. (More on this in the scoring section.)

On Level One, you will see one light-blue, blinking tile. This tile changes every few seconds but is valued just like a normal tile. On Levels Three to Five, there will be two blinking tiles.

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The longer the word you make, the more value you get out of each tile:

1-3 letters: 1 point per tile

4 letters: 2 points per tile

5-6 letters: 3 points per tile

7 letters: 4 points per tile

8 letters: 5 points per tile

Since each level has a limited number of tiles, you will want to squeeze as much value as you can out of the tiles by making long words.

If you make a word using the special x2 tile, your score for the entire word is multiplied by 2. On Levels Four and Five, the power of that special tile is increased to x3. Here you can see my word is only 6 letters long, but because I'm on Level Five, I get 6 x 3 x 3 = 54 points:

The longest word the game will accept is 8 letters. This means that the highest-scoring play possible would be a word that is 8 letters long, on Level Four or Five, using the multiplier tile for 8 x 5 x 3 = 120 points:

To continue in the game, these are the minimum scores you need to achieve on each level:

Level One: 200

Level Two: 220

Level Three: 245

Level Four: 270

Level Five: 300

If you manage to finish the game, you get 1000 bonus points, which is how people achieve high scores of 2000+. So far I haven't made it past Level Five, but my highest score has still been enough to qualify for a bronze trophy.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~


When you're trying to make an 8-letter word, look for these common word-components.

• Consonant clusters, such as STR, CH, or PL.

If you see TAPPED, for example, see if there's an S and R nearby to make it into STRAPPED.

• Two of the same consonant close together, such as NN, PP, LL, SS, or TT.

Those can be used to make words like PLOTTING, SPANNED, STALLING, etc.

• Two vowels close together, such as OO, EE, EA, or AI.

STEAM is worth more than STEM.

• Word-endings:

-TTLE, as in RATTLE, KETTLE, etc.








Most often, you won't see an 8-letter word right away. What I like to do, when starting a level, is to identify the special tile first, and group it with tiles that might be useful for making a long word. If the special tile is a T, and it's right next to a bunch of other consonants like J and Z, you'll want to get rid of the J and Z. Then see if you can get the T close to something like -ION or -ERS. If the special tile is a Q, you'll want to get it close to a U, and if possible an S, to try to make something like SQUATTED or SQUIRREL.

The early part of each level is all about clearing the way for the high-scoring word. Here I am lowering the FINIS so I can make FINISHED:

I also like to get rid of the blinking tiles early, because I find them distracting. On one occasion, though, I needed a G to finish CARRYING, but I didn't have a G. What I did have was a blinking tile. So I made CARRYIN- and kept my mouse hovering over the blinking tile, while at the same time scanning for subsequent words to play. Luckily for me, the blinking tile became a G after a few changes.

Once you've got the high-scoring word, focus on making as many 4- and 5-letter words as you can.

Toward the end of the level, when you're low on time, cash in those tiny words, like A, I, TO, and YEA for 1 point per tile. Once I was at the end of Level Four, 5 points away from Level Five, with only a few seconds left. I quickly played two tiny words, COG and YOU, and managed to make the cut.

One annoyance you'll face as you play this game is that there are some common words not found in its dictionary. The thing to keep in mind is that it's a Neopian game, so it doesn't have real-world religion or technology. This means NUNS and PRIESTS don't exist. Technical terms like EMBRYO also don't exist in Neopia. Neopian words, however, do exist, so go ahead and play that MYNCI. ;)

Have fun playing, and try not to starve!

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