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Mark Papenfuss
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"Your results are back: it's negative"......um, is that a bad thing?
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Scrabble Switch-Up
My wife loves Scrabble. But she also can have some serious AP. So, when I saw this game at the store a couple of years ago, I knew it was the right combination: the word game for her, the brevity for me. Sure, you can still have long games as one 'variant' is essentially the normal game. However, the shorter variants in this particular version is why it shines.

The front of the box.

The Basics
Publisher: Hasbro
Players: 2-4
Age: Officially 8+. This is accurate. Like other scrabble games, players less than 8 will struggle with this game.
Time: 30-90 minutes.
Genre: Word/crossword games, like the others in the 'Scrabble' family.

Gameplay

The back of the box, showing all the 'variants' in this game.

There are six different games/variants included in this game, represented by six different interchangeable boards.
d10-1 CLASSIC: This is the normal version of Scrabble; except the size of the board and tiles is smaller than the real classic Scrabble game. Still, you got everything you need for a typical game, right here. So, consider this a 'Scrabble Plus'.
d10-2 BLANKS & BLOCKERS: Essentially the classic game but includes the ability to grab black blocker tiles and yellow blank tiles when you place a word over the appropriate square. These are used to block opponents and/or help for your cause. While an intriguing concept, particularly with the right crowd, I found this variant actually causes more AP in players prone to such. I avoid this one.
d10-3 SURPRISE: Similar to classic game but has 'mystery' mini-boards which allow for editing the game board----adding wilds, quadruple word scores, etc. This is a decent way to mix it up, but still maintains the classic feel, and length. Chuck Woolery would have a field day.
d10-4 BUSTIN' OUT: This variant for up to 4 players has you trying to breakout of prison and get to your getaway vehicle before your opponents. You'll have to structure your crossword carefully to navigate out of the prison walls. Landing on a guard dog makes you draw a random card event. There are also flashlight squares and rocks to help and hinder your way. Very fun. My favorite variant. Exciting, frustrating, and quick.
d10-5 SPACE-RACE: Another great variant; for two players. Try to beat your opponent from the orbiting space station down to the planet below. Be careful, though, placing a word over a UFO (like the guard dog in Bustin' Out), makes you draw a random card event. Hitting stars gets you blank tiles though. Creative and fast. Going first is a major bonus, which is why we usually play this twice, each getting a turn to go first.
d10-6 FREE-FOR-ALL: Although not my favorite variant, this game is zany and takes crossword building much more loosely, throwing out many of the traditional rules.


The Space Race and Bustin' Out boards

Gameplay rating (out of 4):
Fun:
Depth:

Bang for your Buck (aka Components)
I judge components in terms of aesthetics, price, and durability. Obvoiusly, if I'm paying a heafty amount I expect really good components. Currently Scrabble Switch-Up can be found on Amazon for about 14-15 US dollars. Overall, this is a good value.

Here's a look at what you get:
1 Gamebox (see pics above). Nothing glamorous here. Smallish square size. Medium build. Mine is already showing some pretty good wear.

1 Rulebook: Fairly thick paper that is folded into several pages. The rules are well written with plenty of examples. In full color.

The front page of the rulebook.

1 Gameboard with Grid. The gameboard itself holds the variant interchangeable boards on top, while being able to store stuff below. Pretty cool. Some difficulty in getting everything to fit again---does take a bit of time. The grid sits over the interchangeable boards to lock them in place. The grid also allows you to place the tiles fairly securely---the tiles don't shift as much if the board is inadvertently jostled. Nice concepts here.

100 Tan letter tiles, 8 black blocker tiles and 12 yellow 'blank' tiles.
These are made with light-weight plastic and are not as elegant as the classic wood tiles. However, they are durable (if not a bit smallish for my liking), and fit well in the grid.

4 Black tile racks with label sheet. Functional racks with decals that show the amount of each letter available.


The tile rack with sample tiles.

1 Cloth storage bag. Sleek and functional, for tile draws and storage.


Cloth bag with some sample tiles.

30 Cards; 15 each for Bustin' Out and Space Race. Light weight and small, there is not much shuffling to be done so they can endure well enough--still not the finest quality, but it keeps cost down. The cards themselves have some fun rules and do show humor.


Sample cards.

3 Interchangeable boards (double sided) with 9 mini-boards. Of medium cardstock, these are just good enough to endure non-rough play.

Sample boards and mini-boards

Component Rating (out of 3):
Aesthetics:
Price:
Durabilty:

Other
-Accessibility: This game and its variants are highly accessible. It can be taught to anyone with good language skills with relative ease. While some people can't stand the 'memorizing the Q-words-with-no-U crowd, the quicker variants punish use of craptastic words (craptastic not being a usable Scrabble word...)
-Luck-factor: You are at the mercy of the tile draw, but for the most part, luck is as mild as it in in general Scrabble.
-Replayable: All games are replayable, but you will replay the ones that you think are most fun. Since this is generally based on the other categories. Therefore, I do not give a score for this.
Theme: Scrabble barely has theme, and this variant is not much different, though the Bustin' Out variant tries. Still, at no time do I suspect I'm actually jailbreaking. Since I like theme, this does cost a bit to the game's overall rating for me.

Other Catergories Rating (out of 3):

SUMMARY:
You will like this game if:
-You are a Scrabble fan or you are married to one.
-You don't mind Scrabble but wish there was a decent, relatively shorter variant.
-You don't own the classic version, but would like to have it and more! but are not necessarily keen on making it an elegant, deluxe type edition.

You should pass on this game if:
-The original Scrabble bothers you so much, shortening the game will make little difference in your attitude.
-You don't have 14-15 bucks to spend.
-You think Qwijibo is a real word. Doh!

Final Rating: 7/10






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K Septyn
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Kudos for both craptastic and qwijibo. Both are perfectly cromulent words, in my opinion.

I'd considered this a few times when I saw it at the local Tar-Mart stores, but never felt the need to get it. I like some of the concepts, but there's no game-changer in the bunch that warrants a purchase. Thanks for the review!
 
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Mark Papenfuss
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"Your results are back: it's negative"......um, is that a bad thing?
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Thank you for reading my review! I'm glad you got the Qwijibo reference.

For sure this was a purchase for my wife. Outside of that crowd, you are right to say there is no real game-changer, though I think for folks who don't already own an original Scrabble game (if there are any), this version offers that and some extras for a decent price.
 
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