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Subject: Scattergories for people with brains rss

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Moshe Callen
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Jerusalem
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ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
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μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος/ οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκε,/...
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1.Introduction

This game is not my cup of tea, because I like games of strategy and tactics; this is not intended to be such a game. For people who like this style of game however I think it an excellent game-- so much so that I am about to pack it up as a belated birthday present to one of my dearest friends in the world whom I KNOW to love this type of game. The title of the review is not meant to demean Scattergories, albeit I happen to loathe that game as much as my firend loves it, but rather to both suggest the game most people know to which this is most similar and nevertheless explain what is different about this game at the same time.

2. Components

The box-art is frankly gorgeous and is reproduced for both the front of the rules pamphlet and the backs of cards. A timer with light blue sand is included in the copy I am looking at. The score-sheets are plentiful but simple so that when and if they ever do run out, this is not a big deal.

3. Game-play

The game consists of five rounds. In each round, a player draws a tile with a letter on it and a card with a choice of either categories or sub-categories within a specific category. Sub-categories are optional however, at least in the basic game. Players then have until the sands in the timer [nominally 5 minutes] run out to write down as many items in the category and sub-category (when applicable) beginning with the letter on the chosen tile.

Scoring is by the correct number of entries tallied simply. The player with the most points wins. Rules are also included for play in teams, with childen or with people who wish to make things more diificult; for example, one can either make sub-categories no longer optional or even combine sub-categories so that an item must belong to both sub-categories. Thus the game has a vaiety of play-options and therefore replayability.

The thing that I imagine people would be most concerned about with this sort of game is that it would become dated. This is certainly not the case. The categories and sub-categories are broad enough not to be noticably effected by passage of time, except that where specific wars are mentioned conflicts such as Viet-Nam are conspicuously absent. Likewise, the game is tailored to Americans. For example, on a card listing the category "living statesmen/politicians", something like a quarter of the listed sub-categories are US-specific [US Congressmen, State Governor (U.S.) and so on].

These examples also serve to point out that this game draws on genuine knowledge. For example, one card lists the category scientists with sub-categories like chemist and physicist. This is a game for the educated or at least genuinely knowledgable.
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Stephen Roney
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whac3 wrote:

The game consists of five rounds. In each round, a player draws a tile with a letter on it and a card with a choice of either categories or sub-categories within a specific category. Sub-categories are optional however, at least in the basic game. Players then have until the sands in the timer [nominally 5 minutes] run out to write down as many items in the category and sub-category (when applicable) beginning with the letter on the chosen tile.

Scoring is by the correct number of entries tallied simply. The player with the most points wins.


Really? That's not the way the rules are written in my copy (from before 1970). In my version, you pick five letter tiles and five category/subcategories and try to fill in as many squares in the 5x5 grid as you can. The scoring is, IIRC, the sum of the squares of the number of answers in each row plus the sum of the squares of the number of answers in each column.

Did they change these rules in the newer edition? Almost a different game.....
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Jim Allard
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I just reviewed my copy (the 3M version from 1971) and that is correct - you square the rows and columns and add for a total score. It mentions a perfect score of 250, with a 100 being very good; or with particularly hard categories a 50 being good. Looking at my past score cards, I didn't remember playing this that much. my memory must be going somewhere, I forget where.

JimA
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Moshe Callen
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ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
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μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος/ οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκε,/...
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Either I took as five separate rounds what you're describing or you do have another game in mind.

sroney wrote:
whac3 wrote:

The game consists of five rounds. In each round, a player draws a tile with a letter on it and a card with a choice of either categories or sub-categories within a specific category. Sub-categories are optional however, at least in the basic game. Players then have until the sands in the timer [nominally 5 minutes] run out to write down as many items in the category and sub-category (when applicable) beginning with the letter on the chosen tile.

Scoring is by the correct number of entries tallied simply. The player with the most points wins.


Really? That's not the way the rules are written in my copy (from before 1970). In my version, you pick five letter tiles and five category/subcategories and try to fill in as many squares in the 5x5 grid as you can. The scoring is, IIRC, the sum of the squares of the number of answers in each row plus the sum of the squares of the number of answers in each column.

Did they change these rules in the newer edition? Almost a different game.....
 
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Larry Welborn
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whac3 wrote:


Really? That's not the way the rules are written in my copy (from before 1970). In my version, you pick five letter tiles and five category/subcategories and try to fill in as many squares in the 5x5 grid as you can. The scoring is, IIRC, the sum of the squares of the number of answers in each row plus the sum of the squares of the number of answers in each column.

Did they change these rules in the newer edition? Almost a different game.....


The rules to my Avalon Hill version are as you have written above. A new version came out a few years ago, I guess the rules were changed. From the description of the OP, I much prefer the old ruleset.
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Moshe Callen
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ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
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μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος/ οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκε,/...
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I will freely admit that I may also have misunderstood the rules. If that is the case, thanks for the correction.
Like I said, this is not my style of game and so I didn't play it much. I do stand by my conclusion though that for those who do like this class of games this is probably one of the better ones.

Larry Welborn wrote:
whac3 wrote:


Really? That's not the way the rules are written in my copy (from before 1970). In my version, you pick five letter tiles and five category/subcategories and try to fill in as many squares in the 5x5 grid as you can. The scoring is, IIRC, the sum of the squares of the number of answers in each row plus the sum of the squares of the number of answers in each column.

Did they change these rules in the newer edition? Almost a different game.....


The rules to my Avalon Hill version are as you have written above. A new version came out a few years ago, I guess the rules were changed. From the description of the OP, I much prefer the old ruleset.
 
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Randy Cox
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The rules are that you fill in a grid for scoring which is almost equivalent to your answer grid, only with correct answers "slid up" to the top of each column.

Example: your answer grid has correct answers in each space marked with an "X":

--- Categories
---- 1 2 3 4 5
Let1 X - - X -
Let2 X - X - -
Let3 X - X X -
Let4 - - X X X
Let5 X X - X X


Becomes a scoring grid as follows:

1 1 1 1 1
1 - 1 1 1
1 - 1 1 -
1 - - 1 -
- - - - -


Now, summing each row and column yields

1 1 1 1 1 = 5
1 - 1 1 1 = 4
1 - 1 1 - = 3
1 - - 1 - = 2
- - - - - = 0
! ! ! ! !
V V V V V
4 1 3 4 2


So, for row scores (General Knowledge), the score is 25+16+9+4+0 = 54 and the column scores (Specific Knowledge) are 16+1+9+16+4 = 46. Total score is 100 in this case.

Now this is really a pretty silly scoring mechanism because with only one or two exceptions out of all the permutations, simply counting up total correct answers will yield the same winner. In fact, at the World Boardgaming Championships, where this game has legacy status, that is precisely what they do now--simply count total correct answers.

Note: the above explanation was scoring for just one round of the five you play.
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Everett Hathaway
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This Grid Scoring method is the method I have always used - and never scored well enough to have any difficulty at all totaling up the rows and columns shake

It's a great game, and a very humbling one...
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Igg V
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That doesn't make too much sense to me. It sounds like more mere coincidence that the winner had the highest score in both methods. The 'proper' or 'old' scoring method rewards anyone who can clear categories regularly, netting 25 points. I've had games where going for strength in 2-3 categories instead of working in all 5 was the better strategy. I can see in a highly competitive game though that if people are routinely scoring 20-24/25 answers that their positions matter a lot less.
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Richard Irving
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Iggsour wrote:
That doesn't make too much sense to me. It sounds like more mere coincidence that the winner had the highest score in both methods. The 'proper' or 'old' scoring method rewards anyone who can clear categories regularly, netting 25 points. I've had games where going for strength in 2-3 categories instead of working in all 5 was the better strategy. I can see in a highly competitive game though that if people are routinely scoring 20-24/25 answers that their positions matter a lot less.


Actually, the scoring system rewards either filling an entire category ***OR*** making sure you get at least one in each category.

Also the scoring system rarely awards more points for having fewer answers:

# Min Max # Min Max # Min Max
1 2 2 11 70 76 21 186 190
2 6 6 12 80 84 22 200 202
3 10 12 13 90 94 23 216 216
4 16 20 14 106 110 24 232 232
5 22 30 15 110 120 25 250 250
6 28 34 16 122 128
7 36 40 17 134 138
8 44 48 18 146 150
9 52 58 19 158 164
10 60 70 20 172 180


The ONLY situation where you can score more points while having fewer answers is: 5 (50000 or 11111) vs. 6 (32100)





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Gerald McDaniel
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The title of this review is very appropriate. That is the way I have always thought of this game. Scattergories is fine for family play, and we always adjusted the game for younger children playing with adults (allowing the kids to include an answer that began with any of two or three letters, rather than just the one for adults).

Facts in Five is definitely for educated (by whatever means) adults who can recall names and other facts under time pressure. I have virtually never played this game with sub-categories, which can get very restrictive. The categories were challenging enough for me.

I believe the work that went into the creation of the original cards (3M version that I have) represented an outstanding effort to challenge the best of the thinking public who would want to play this game.

I haven't played this for decades, because it's not a popular game within our family, but I consider it a nice item in my games collection.
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