Becoming a member

Welcome to Jumbalaya! Please send mail if you have suggestions, questions, or bug reports. There is a Jumbalaya Yahoo group that serves as a discussion area. Anyone is welcome to join.

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How to play

The point of Jumbalaya is to find words by connecting letters with their neighbors. You can move from a letter to any other letter that touches it, even diagonally, but you can't use the same individual letter more than once in a word.

Some of the words that can be found in the grid above are:


Some words that can't be legally found are:

fleet         (the E's don't touch)
fell          (can't use the L twice)
belated       (the L and the A don't touch)
added         (not enough D's)
belted        (uses the same E twice)
fahrvernugen  (no umlauts)
Valid words are any English, non-proper (uncapitalized) words that can be found in a standard dictionary, such as Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary.

For some strategy hints, see the tips page.

* In general

Below are some things to keep in mind as you go along.

+ Help

Each page you see while you play has its own help available. Just click on the word "Help" in the button bar to get detailed help about the current page. Of course, reading help in the middle of a game won't improve your score for that game. Think of it as an investment in the future.

+ When to use your browser's "Back" function

If you've indicated that you'd like to get the warning to tell you when it's time to submit your words, you'll want to use your browser's "Back" button when you get it. That's so the words you've typed in are still around. If that's not working, you'll want to use just the timer option when you start the game. In general it's easier to use just the timer if it works for you. That's why it's the default.

+ When to use your browser's "Reload" function

In general, you don't want to, especially when you've just started playing a game (it'll start a new game). The only time it's really useful is to update the games page so you can check for new games taking signups.

* Starting a game

Each game has the following options:

In addition, multiplayer games have:

Press the Play game button to start play. Once you've done that, you'll get a game board and a box to type words into. Your job is to find words in the grid, type them into the box, and submit your list of words before time is up.

* Playing the game

Find some words

How to do that is explained above.

and type them into the box

Separate your words with spaces and/or returns, or tabs if you're that kind of person. You can add suffixes to a root by using a slash (/). For example,

quiet /s /er /us /ed

is the same as typing

quiet quiets quieter quietus quieted

The spaces before the slashes are optional.

before time is up

If you're playing against the clock, you'll need a clock. You have four choices here.

  1. timer : A little clock that counts down as you play. When it gets down to 10 seconds, you should press the Done button. Be careful not to go to another page or window (such as View Source) while the clock is going - if you do, the clock freezes. Your browser needs to be able to display "animated GIFs" for this to work.
  2. warning : Your browser ticks off the seconds and when time's up, it goes and gets a warning page from the server. Then you go back and submit your words. Your browser needs to be capable of "client pull" for this to work.
  3. both : In case you weren't paying attention to the little clock.
  4. neither : The timer and warning may not work with all browsers. In fact, trying them may even confuse your browser. In that case there's the DIY method, that is, do it yourself. Look at your watch or sundial or brass horse clock. You can even use your watch's stopwatch feature if you want to get fancy.

When it's time to turn in your word list, press the Done button. It's best to do that at least a few seconds before time runs out just to be on the safe side. If you get the warning, use your browser's "Back" feature to go back to the page with the game board and your words, and press the Done button.

* Checking your words

The next thing that happens is that your list gets pared down to words that are really words and that are really in the grid. Draconian as it may seem, it makes the game more enjoyable in the end. You'll be informed which words weren't in the grid, and which ones weren't in the computer's dictionary. (You can then suggest that certain of those be added.)

The other fun way to lose words is to turn your word list in late. You actually get penalized for lateness. (Ironic that I would implement this.) The later you are, the more words randomly fall off your list. You'll be told what the server thought of your word list. By now you're dying of curiosity and can't wait to see the results. In the single-player game you'll get the results right away. In the multiplayer version, you'll need to press the View results button.

* Scoring

A table will be shown listing all the words that any of the players found. If more than one player found it, they don't score but they get little stars for their effort. If only one player found it, she scores (according to the current scoring method). Total points are displayed, and do not necessarily indicate a player's value as a person. The number of scoring words and total words found by each player are also displayed for those who are statistically-minded or easily amused. Finally, a ranking is calculated for each player using the same algorithm that's used to handicap the computer. In other words, the computer playing at that level would have found about as many words as you did. Even the computer gets a ranking when it plays - it doesn't match the level it was set to play at since there's some randomness at work.

In split scoring, all the players who found a word share its points. That means as long as you find at least one word, you'll end up with more than zero points.

Follow the X words in the grid link to see the usually humbling list of all the words the computer found, many of which are actually recognizable words. It's also fun to see if there were any monster words in the grid. Those who fancy themselves adepts will find that have a surprising amount of room for improvement. Look on it as an opportunity.

The Play it again link will appear if you were playing the computer. Press it to start a game with the same setup you just played.

* Multiplayer games

There are two different ways to play Jumbalaya on this server.

The single-player game works much as described above. You play the computer, and you get to decide how skilled the computer is. Level 1 is a cakewalk, level 5 is generally a pretty good challenge, and at level 10 you're Jumbalaya fodder. You have one other ace up your sleeve - you can throw away the timer and take as long as you want. Analysis: Antisocial, frustrating. Become bitter, lonely, cynical, and a better Jumbalaya player.

In the multiplayer game, you play the same grid against your Webby fellows. Sociable, fun, filled with camaraderie. Make new friends.

In order to play in a multiplayer game, you'll need a handle and password. To get those, fill out the registration form.

Someone somewhere starts up a multiplayer game and it gets added to the list of available games. To start a game, choose the various options described above and decide in how many minutes the game starts. The computer doesn't necessarily get to play in multiplayer games. When you're done making all these important choices, press the Start game button.

You can join any game that hasn't started yet. Each person who joins has to give his handle (as does the starter) so that the results make some sense.

To join a game just go to the games page and follow the Add me to game xxx link.

Each player in a multiplayer game will be sent to a page where they wait for the game to start. Pressing the Check time button will tell you how long (in seconds) until the game starts, and it will also update the list of players so you can tell if anyone else has joined. There's a box next to it where you can type chatty messages if you want.

If your browser can handle client-pull, you'll be taken to the game automatically when it starts. If not, just keep checking time and follow the Play game link within 10 seconds of the game's start. You'll then be given the board and the box to type your words into, which should be familiar ground.

After you submit your words, you'll be told which ones weren't accepted and be given a link to the results page. Go there to see how everyone did. There's a button to update the results with since not everyone finishes at the same time. You can also do some more chatting here.

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