The Game Where You Score Points For Being Different

Being one of the crowd isn't always the best thing to do, and that certainly holds true if you want to win at the game of Scattergories.

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Scattergories is a board game developed by Hasbro in 1988.

It is considered a family or party game and is designed for 2 to 6 players ages 12 and up. There is a junior version of this game for children 7 to 12.

The object of the game is to fill in answers in 12 different categories all starting with the same letter.

While this sounds simple enough, it isn't!

The catch is that you only score points if your answer is completely different to all the other players.

As the name of the game suggests, you are using a common letter to bring together a range of scattered categories.

Skills Needed For This Game

Two skills that are extremely useful in playing this game are the ability to think fast under pressure (because each round is timed), and a good general knowledge.

How To Play

Before the game starts, each person should be given a game folder containing the answer sheet, which is divided into three sections for the three rounds of the game, and the category cards. Players must decide on which category card and list they are going to play prior to the start of the game. The twelve categories on the category list chosen are played for all three rounds of the game.

The game starts when a chosen player rolls the 20 sided dice to determine what letter all the answers in the category list must start with and the timer is set.

The players then have three minutes to fill in an answer for each of the twelve categories. Here are some examples of the categories you might see:

  • in the kitchen
  • birds
  • toys
  • famous people
  • vegetable
  • meat product
  • country
  • mountain

When the timer goes off, everyone puts down their pencils immediately. Then the first player reads off their answers to each of the categories while the other players mark off any of their answers that matches the first player.

The next player then reads off any unique answers that he has left and players mark off those answers. This continues until everyone has read their list. You then the mark the number of unique answers you have for that round at the top of the paper.

If anyone's answer does not seem to fit the category, then any other player can challenge that answer. Once a challenge is made, a vote is taken to decide who thinks the answer is acceptable and majority rules. If the majority accepts the answer then the player scores that point. If the majority rejects that answer then the player crosses that answer off. In case of a tie, the word is crossed off and no points are rewarded.

The player then resumes with another throw of the dice and the categories are again answered using the new letter. If a letter is repeated, then simply throw the dice again to get a new letter. At the end of 3 rounds the person with most points wins.

There are a couple of other little twists to remember while playing. No player can use the same answer in the same round. For example, you can't use Lily as the answer for a flower and a girl's name.

You can however, score two points for one answer by using alliteration or a double word answer both starting with the acceptable letter. Such as using Lincoln Logs for the category of toys and the letter L. However, you still only score one point for two word answers where only one word starts with the correct letter.

Helpful Hints

There are a few strategies that will help you play this game. Here are a few tips that may be helpful.

  • Fill in the answers that come to you quickly first and then go back over the ones that you are having trouble with. That way you will have more time to concentrate on the more difficult answers.
  • Try and fill in every category even if the answer sounds far fetched or stupid. You never know what might pass without being challenged.
  • Watch how play is going. Since the object of the game is for people to write down answers different from everyone else then people will be avoiding the most obvious answers. If this seems to be the case then going for those answers may actually result in your having the unique answer even if it is common.
  • Allow yourself to be desperate. If you draw the letter P and the category is colors and you are sure that everyone is going to be guessing pink, purple, and puce, try going for something like patent leather black or powder blue.

Different Versions Of Scattergories

At this time there is only the board version of Scattergories - one for adults and a junior version. You can purchase extra category cards or make up your own categories. However, there are two online games that closely resemble Scattergories. One is Poowords and the other is Categorilla.

Poowords is pretty much a two person version of Scattergories with only 8 categories. You either play this game with a friend online or play with a random player. The object of the game is to try and submit answers that are different than your opponents.

Categorilla is the opposite of Scattergories in the fact that you want your answers to match that of another unknown player, as you only score points for the words that match, not the ones that are different. Both of these games are fun to play and both will give you practice for playing the board game at your next party or family get together in that they help get you in the habit of thinking fast.

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