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Subject: The Gaming Drunkard's Pub-Playing Review rss

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Erik D
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Scrabble was the first game I ever took into a bar and it’s still the go-to choice for games with my non-gamer friends. With so many editions out there. I feel it’s best to discuss not only the game, but the experience of the travel folio, regular and deluxe editions.


Game overview:
Who doesn’t know Scrabble at this point? It’s the classic word game of all time. We’ll be hard-pressed to see anything surpass it.


In the Pub!

Components:
Travel Folio Edition: 8/10

The folio edition is probably your best bet for the bar. It’s small, comes in a canvas case and everything else is plastic save for the score sheet. As an added bonus, the board can close with tiles in place for easy movement from bar-to-bar mid-game. If there is only one glaring flaw to the folio edition, it’s that sometimes placing one tile will send another flying across the room like a tiddlywink.

Regular Edition: 5/10
Easily the worst pick of the three. The board is cardboard and prone to moisture damage. It’s unable to rotate, thus forcing some players to play upside-down or sideways. Worse yet, there are no grooves to hold the tiles in place—the slightest bump on the table or hand brushing a word can send the whole set up in disarray. One positive, however, is the brightly colored wooden tiles which are easy to spot when they inevitably fall to the floor.

This is not to say the regular edition is an awful experience, but you’re better off investing $5-$10 more for one of the other editions.

Deluxe Edition: 7/10
Though large, the Deluxe Edition is also a good choice. The board is plastic with grooves for the tiles and rotates on a turntable. Just make sure you get the version where the board rests higher than the letter holders so rotating the board won’t knock your hand of tiles to the floor. The dark-colored tiles can be difficult to spot in dark room, so it’s a good idea to be extra-careful with them.


Rules: 9/10
The rules are nearly innate knowledge (i.e. we’re born knowing it). However, ground rules should be set early on since some players play to the letter of the rule book while others feel it’s okay to look up words before they play them. The only unbalanced rule is the end game where the player who uses all of their letters first wins the points in everyone else’s tray while they lose them. In a four-player game, this can cause some huge swings that don’t fit the spirit of the game.


Three to Six Factor: 7/10
(The three to six factor is how the game shifts when one player has had three pints while the other has had six)
Beer won’t hinder one’s vocabulary, only the patience to seek out where it could fit on the board.


"What's That?" Factor: 2/10
(the "What's That?" factor is how often people will stop by your table to ask just what the heck you are doing and thier reaction after you tell them)
Not so much a “What’s That?” Factor than an “Ooh, Scrabble!” Factor. However, most bar-goers take little interest in your game. In fact, generally only a waitress carrying the next round of drinks might share a few words.


Social Factor: 6/10
The social factor is purely based on your selection of opponents. It plays best when everyone has the same skill level in both vocabulary and tile placement strategy. In three- or four-player games, nothing kills the fun more than the one novice who keeps opening up triple word scores for the next player while the other players are left with the scraps. Still, with some turns taking a few minutes, players are given plenty of time for conversation—and talking isn’t too intrusive on your own turn as well.

Fifth wheels, however, will definitely be impatient and feel left out of the conversation, even if it has nothing to do with the game at hand.


Overall:
Despite several disadvantages, Scrabble is still an ideal pub game. Its intellectual nature helps you look and feel smarter even when each subsequent beverage has the opposite effect.

Special thanks to Eli Smith for permitting me to use his Pub-Player's Review format.

[EDIT: Slight title change from "Drunkard Gamer" to "Gaming Drunkard".]
 
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