- Designer: Ted Alspach
- Publisher: Bezier Games
- Players: 3, 4 or 6
- Age: 15+
- Time: 30 minutes
- Played with review copy provided by Bezier Games
Per the publisher: After hiking a local trail, you and your partner have returned to a campsite completely ransacked by pesky critters. Team up to clear your campground of critters before your neighbors. Scram! is a fun & fast team based card game that plays 1 vs 2, 2 vs 2 & 3 vs 3! Each animal has a different card value, and many have a special action. Be careful, there may be critters who are still hiding and waiting for the right moment to present themselves! Call out “Scram!” when you think your team has the fewest animals in your campsite; but will your team be able to toss out the troublesome trespassers before your neighbors?
The regular game appears to be for even teams (2v2 or 3v3) and I’ll explain that version as it is the only form I’ve played. Teams alternate around the table, the deck is made for the player count, Each player is given a starting hand of 2 face up and 3 face down cards on the table. The rest of the deck is placed in the center of the table, and the top card of the deck is flipped over to start the discard pile. The deck is made up of cards from 1-13 and a card with an equal sign on it. There is a special action printed at the bottom of the higher valued cards as well. These actions modify the cards in some way, and can usually be played on any player’s campsite or even the top card of the deck. In each round, each team is trying to have the lowest total sum on the cards on their teammates’ combined hands.
On a turn, you either draw a card and play it OR you call Scram!.
When you draw a card, it can either the the top card of the draw deck or the top card of the discard pile. You can play a card from the deck to replace cards in your campsite, use the special ability on the card, or simply discard the card. If you draw from the discard pile, you can only replace a card in your campsite or discard it; you cannot use the action.
When you replace, you can replace any number of cards from all of your team’s campsites that have the same value (or have an equal sign on them). If you nominate facedown cards, you identify them and then flip them over. If all the cards are in fact the same value, you can discard all of those cards and put the drawn card in your campsite. If you are wrong on any of the cards, nothing gets discarded and you still put the new card into your campsite. If you were really wrong and had 3 or more cards of different value revealed, you add additional facedown penalty cards.
Your final option is to call Scram!. You can only do this if you have 2 or fewer cards in your campsite. When you call this, your turn immediately ends and you are making a bet that your team will have fewer points in their campsites combined than the other team – though every other player gets one more turn.
The round ends in one of two ways – and scoring is different based on how things ended.
If the deck runs out,the round ends immediately. All players reveal the cards in their campsites and tally up the combined values of all their cards. Any cards with equal signs are equal to the lowest valued card in that campsite. Each team records their combined total of cards.
If Scram! was called, teams both calculate their scores as above. However, if the Scram!-calling team does indeed have fewer points, they record ZERO points for the round. If the Scram!-calling team has more points, they must add ten points to their total. The other team just scores normally.
The team with the fewest points after four rounds wins. Ties broken in favor of the team with the smallest score recorded in the final round.
My thoughts on the game
Well, this game obviously feels like Super Cabo or Super Silver; both being a similar shedding game also produced by Bezier Games. Here, though, there is the addition of the teammate aspect which does make for a more interesting game.
There are plenty of ways to lower your campsite’s score – the most powerful being a group discard of like-numbered cards. Of course, it often takes a few turns to set up this play as you likely need to look at some facedown cards in order to know where all of the matching cards are.
There is always the single replacement as well, which is slower – at times. If the cards work out, it can be beneficial to draw a card from the discard pile that already matches a card your team has showing, getting a small improvement with the initial exchange, but then also setting up a more lucrative group discard on a later turn from your team.
The actions on the higher number cards also make every card have some interesting play value throughout the course of the round. Surely you can see why you wouldn’t want to draw a 13, as you’d never put it in your campsite – but since its action is to place itself into any campsite (i.e. your opponent’s) – it’s actually a pretty sweet card to draw.
The game is all about risk/reward choices – the biggest of which is the Scram! declaration. You probably need to feel comfortably ahead to call it; especially when every other player gets a chance for a final turn. I personally like to know that most, if not all, of the 13s are out of the deck before I call Scram! – and I like to have facedown cards to make it trickier for people to trade with me. But, I also don’t win at Scram! a lot, so maybe I’m too conservative? There is a nice risk/reward aspect here, as you have to balance the chance of scoring zero with the assuredly large number plus ten if you’re wrong!
There are also some fun decisions to be made about group discards, especially early in the game. Though there are penalties put in place to prevent you from making wild guesses; I have found it sometimes useful to flip over a number of facedown cards on my team early on as this exposes cards for mass discards later.
The artwork is cartoon-y and cute; and I like the large numbers for the index. Lefthanders are probably used to having to fan their cards backwards, so no need to harp on the single indexing of the cards. The box is a coated plastic, and be warned that you may need the jaws of life to separate the two halves of the box. I actually sprinkled baby powder between the two halves of the box and that has helped a bit – but it’s still unbelievably sticky.
The addition of the team aspect improves the game for me; though it does limit you to only even number player counts. (The rules do offer 3p rules; but I’ve not played it yet so I can’t comment. Also, I’d probably just pull out Silver or Cabo if I had 3 or 5). I definitely like the way that you can use your card actions to help your teammates or hinder your opponents; it definitely increases the amount of strategy.
Each round takes 5 to 10 minutes, and most rounds start out leisurely and become increasingly more tense as the deck runs lower. It helps to have a good memory – you’ll likely be tracking a number of facedown cards each round, and they have their places exchanged due to card actions! You’ll also want to try to keep track of the cards seen from the deck to calculate your chances of drawing certain cards. Luck will still play a big role in the game, but for a short(ish) and light(ish) game, the amount of luck feels just right.
Thoughts from other Opinionated Gamers
Mark Jackson (multiple plays of the prototype and the production copy AND the iOS app): I’ll keep it simple (since Dale has done a great job of describing the game)… I did not enjoy Silver – but the partnership aspect of Scram! works brilliantly and I’m happy to play it over and over.
And the app is pretty nifty, too.
Michael W. (multiple plays at recent con and at home): We were already big fans of Cabo and Scram! is a very good evolution to a new form. Cabo is the better drinking game, but Scram! Is hands down the better game. It’s become a go-to opener with the right # of players. Speaking of, avoid the 3p game. Not worth it – there’s much better games for 3.
Tery N: (multiple plays with the production copy and one play with my copy). I didn’t love Cabo. I didn’t hate Cabo, but it didn’t grab me in any way and I would only play it if others wanted to. Based on that I wasn’t rushing to try Scram, but I was at a game con and there were multiple copies in play at all times, so I decided to see what the buzz was all about. I like the added strategy and decision-making, and I am a sucker for a good partnership card game. It was good with both 4 and 5, and as Mark has already noted the scoring app is great.. My husband managed to win a copy, but if he hadn’t we would have bought it immediately.
Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers
- I love it! Mark Jackson, Tery N
- I like it. John P, Dale
- Not for me…