Scattergories is a classic party game for a group of quick thinking wordsmiths to test their vocabulary skills against a heart stopping timer.
In Scattergories players race against the clock to think up various words that must start with a randomly rolled letter and apply it to a full list of categories each round. The goal is for the answers to be unique and clever and quick, because you have to get as many as you can in before time is up and the timer goes CLICK!
Scattergories comes with a series of flip books, one for each player that holds a variety of category cards and a note pad for jotting down answers. Each player takes a pad at the games beginning, and a pencil and they are ready to go! No tedious set up here.
The game also comes with a handy timer to let the players know when it is time to stop writing and put down your pencils by making a sudden and loud SNAP!
Now I am sure this game was not meant to startle players, but every time we play, everyone loses track of time as they are writing down answers and frantically trying to get one for every category and suddenly the loud SNAP of the timer goes off and a couple people get startled and jump at the sudden noise.
The other key component of this game is the 20 sided die you roll each round to determine the letter that all your answers must begin with for each category.
The simple components of this game add to the ease of play. However you want to make sure the category cards are well organized because they can some times get out of order and create brief confusion.
In Scattergories, the round begins by all players selecting a list from their flip books. They are conveniently numbered so each player is playing with the same list.
Each list has a bunch of categories such as Cities, Things you throw away, things that are small, Cartoon Characters etc…
After players have their lists out, the die is rolled and the special letter of the round is revealed.
Then the timer is set and the round begins.
Players now have about a minute to go through their list and write various words on their answer pad that have to start with the rolled letter and match the various categories.
For example, the letter rolled for the round is P. So for cities I can write Pittsburgh. For things that are small I can write paperclips, and so on until the whole list is filled or the timer snaps you out of your writing trance with that heart stopping SNAP!
Once everyone’s hearts have calmed down from the stopping of the timer, the players read off their answers and points are determined.
You get one point for each word you write that begins with the appropriate letter. But no points if someone else wrote the same answer, so being unique is critical for a high score.
One of my favorite ways to gain points is to come up with multiple words for one answer.
My favorite all time answer was for cartoon characters beginning with P. And I wrote, The Peculiar Purple Pie man of Porcupine Peak (from Strawberry Shortcake). So that answer awarded me five points and jaw dropping stares of amazement from all the other players, and a 5 minute debate that I had to convince them that I was not making him up.
After all answers are scored, players determine the rounds winner and the game continues for a total of three rounds total to determine who the overall big winner will be.
What I find most fun about this game is the flexibility it allows with interpretation of the categories. An example it gives is for sandwiches, you could write Knuckle if K is rolled.
Other creative combinations can arise with the categories which can lead to some debate with the other players. Some answers are just too ludicrous for players to agree to and the healthy debates that arise can be fun.
The game allows for a good deal of social interaction as people explain their answers, and there is some what of an educational value here because you may learn a thing or two.
PROS and CONS
Not a very time consuming game, you can play several rounds in a row and not feel the game is dragging on.
Great for quick thinking people who can come up with many answers on the fly.
My only major con with this game is that annoying timer!
Outside of that pesky timer, all players should enjoy this game as long as they like quick thinking games, and can apply a little creativity to their answers.
If you do not like to think on your feet, this is not the game for you.
As I originally said, this game is a classic. I have played it since I was a child and have many fond memories of the creative answers people come up with.
I give this game 7 out of 10 due to its classic appeal that can be played with family as well as friends. It rarely disappoints with the right group of people. It is a semi low pressure game that allows people to think at their own speeds and have a great deal of fun with a bit of creative word play.
Man thinks, the river flows.
The timer in my copy runs on a chip and has a very calm-inducing "Ahhhh" sort of sound when it runs out. Your heart jumps as it gives you the time-has-almost-run-out warning but then the gentle finish sound goes easy on you. I'd recommend buying a more up-to-date copy just for that alone.
This game comes out every Thanksgiving with my whole family. We have to share cards, often with a dozen or more players. The kids do remarkably well considering it's a word game.
Good review. Thanks for taking the time.
The electronic timer that comes with the latest version of Scattergories is much less jarring. It plays a gentle gong sound when time is up. It also lets you know that time is almost up by ticking faster.