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My word! What can replace our Scrabulous?

Scrabulous is gone from Facebook, and many addicted fans are wondering, “Is life over?”

Earlier this month, the creators of the hugely popular game had Scrabulous removed for U.S. and Canadian users of Facebook after Hasbro Inc. – which owns Scrabble's North American rights – filed a suit against Scrabulous' creators (two brothers from India).

It was a bona fide, triple-word score B-U-M-M-E-R, (which, if you're scoring at home, would be a 36-point play).

Many fans of the game are up in arms. Nearly 6,000 have joined a group on Facebook called “Save Scrabulous.” On the group's message board, some go so far as to call Hasbro executives “fascists.”

And you thought board games were docile.

But Scrabble fans have options. Here are the ways currently available to fill the hole left by Scrabulous:

Wordscraper: Rajat and Jayant Agarwalla, the Scrabulous creators, have released Wordscraper as their solution to Hasbro's legal complaints. It's quickly become popular, with more than 169,000 active users. Though it's a game based around forming words with seven letters on a board with various values, it ain't Scrabble. And that's all Scrabulous ever was: an exact copy of Scrabble, with good Web functionality. You can arrange the board however you want (like, say, mimicking the Scrabble board) but it's still not the same.

WORD SCORE: Swap tiles.

Scrabble: Before filing suit against Scrabulous, video game maker Electronic Arts Inc. released an official (and free) version of Scrabble under a broad licensing deal with Hasbro. That Facebook application, currently in Beta, has attracted about 69,000 monthly active users – a far cry from the half a million active daily on Scrabulous. The game play here is exactly the same. The only real difference is the cheesier, flashier and slower animation, which makes it feel more like a kid's game. WORD SCORE: Double letter score.

Scrabulous: No, Scrabulous isn't gone. Its use was only legally threatened in North America – and therefore restricted from Facebook users in the U.S. and Canada. The Web site, www.scrabulous.com, is still functioning. So if you want to play Scrabble the way it was popularized online – as Scrabulous – you can do so, just without the middle man of Facebook. The most convenient way to do this is to play “Email Scrabulous,” which you can play against friends. When it's your turn, you get an e-mail with a link leading you to your game. This is actually an upgrade over the Facebook application, which didn't notify you when it was your turn. WORD SCORE: Triple word score.

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