Bananagrams: Strategies for Winning
As simple as the rules of Bananagrams are, there are some strategies that can help a player to win more consistently.
The first strategy is to begin to arrange your letters as you flip them over. Rather than racing to get your letters turned up first, take an extra second to begin forming words. Every time you touch a letter or concentrate on it unnecessarily is a moment of advantage you give to the other players.
Do NOT dump unless it is absolutely necessary. By the time you have given up hope on a letter, another player will announce, "Peel", and it just may be that the next drawn letter is the one you need to form a word with the letters you already have. The one letter that might appropriately be dumped is "Q". However, note that if you are stuck with a "Q" and have no "U" in front of you there is one easy and legitimate "Q" word (in most dictionaries) that does not require a "U" - "Qat". If your opponents question it, it is a tropical evergreen plant (also known as khat).
When placing letters keep in mind those that can easily be cannibalized later, especially letters used to make two-letter words that are connected to longer words. This allows you to remain flexible when you are peeling single letters from the bunch. Don't hesitate to pull letters out of the middle of a word if you need them. The hesitation will cost you more than the time it takes to push two sets of words together.
Don't worry too much if another player begins to "peel" and "peel" again. This seldom goes on for long as this usually means that he or she is forming quick two-letter words and the available spots are sure to give out soon. Or he may run into a difficult letter.
"K", "C", "J" and "Z" all tend to be "peel"-stoppers. However, keep in mind that there are many common words that contain the letter "Z" even if not many words begin with "Z". Four letter words with consonant-vowel-Z-E can usually be quickly put together. "J" is probably tougher to handle than "Z". Keep your eye out for common 3-letter words that begin with "J" such as "jar", "jam", "jag", "jig", "jib", et al. "C" and "K" often require more creativity. Just don't forget the usual letter combinations that often are needed for a "K", such as "KN", "NK", and "CK". Plus there is always the old standby, most letters (except "J" and "Q") can be easily formed into words with a silent "E" ending.
The distribution of vowels and consonants is very well suited to the English language. However, you will occasionally get a fluke hand that is unbalanced with one or the other. Work with what you have BEFORE you decide to dump. Only dump before forming any words if you only have one or the other with no hope of forming ANY words.
Any person or hand has the potential for winning. Play fast, play hard, be polite, use good judgement and you will do well.
Next Page: Variations on Bananagrams