What is Scattergories?
Scattergories is a game published by Hasbro under the Milton Bradley brand. Scattergories is generally classified as a party game, though you should not mistake it for games like Cards Against Humanity or What Do You Meme (link to our review).
Contents of the Game
When you purchase the game, you receive:
- 6 answer pads
- 18 category cards
- 1 die (dice)
- 1 timer
- 6 pencils
- 1 set of instructions
Rules for Scattergories
- If you have more than 6 players, then divide everyone into teams.
- Select three lists to be used for the game.
- Begin the 1st round by rolling the letter die, and then starting the timer.
- Players then proceed to brainstorm words beginning with the rolled letter that correspond to the categories on their list.
- Once the timer runs out, players call out their responses; if anyone has overlapping responses, then each of those players must cross off their word. If anyone wishes to challenge a response, then the group votes on whether the disputed response is acceptable.
- Repeat the same steps for round 2 and round 3.
Specific Rules about Acceptable Words
You may not use an article (A, An, The) for the letter A and letter T. For example, The Catcher in the Rye is acceptable for the letter C, but not for the letter T.
Proper names can be used with either the first name or the last name listed initially. For example, for the letter G on the category U.S. Presidents, you could use either Garfield, James or George Bush.
Strategy for Scattergories is rather straightforward: Try to write down the most obscure answer to each category. One small change to this strategy can occur if your group uses the double scoring rule (if your answer has two words that both start with the letter, you get 2 points); with this rule, you may need to balance obscurity with how likely you think someone will know the “double-letter” answer.
Lose your copy of the instructions? Download them here.
If you’re a K-12 teacher, you can use this PDF from the NWT Literacy Council to create a Scattergories game for your classrom.
How Many People Can Play Scattergories?
The game is designed for up to 6 players. You could consider expanding this number by creating teams, where each team would in turn submit an answer. Given the nature of Scattergories, it is recommended that teams be kept as small as possible to allow for a balance between communicating and responding to questions within the 3-minute allowance.
Can You Use the Same Word Twice?
Players are not allowed to use the same word twice in the same round. Some people use house rules that disallow the use of the same word in the same game.
Which letters are omitted from the game?
The premise of Scattergories is to brainstorm words that begin with a randomly selected letter. However, the makers of Scattegories determined that certain letters would be bit too much of a challenge (or not provide much fun since responses would be limited): Q, V, W, Y, Z.
If you want to spice up your next game, consider including a bonus round that only includes these letters. For example, use a 6-sided dice and assign a corresponding number for each letter. Such as this:
|Letter||Number on Dice|
Alternatives to Scattergories
There are no direct substitutes for Scattergories. But if you are looking for party games that are more similar to Scattergories (e.g., word-based) than they are to Cards Against Humanity, then consider (links go to BoardGameGeek where you can read more about the game):
- Wise or Otherwise
- Word on the Street
- Knit Wit
Based on the game Dictionary, Balderdash has players compete by coming up with definitions for made-up words. The game is out-of-print currently, but you can pick up a copy on eBay.
One player (the round Reader) reads the beginning of a proverb, and then other players attempt to complete the proverb. Points are accumulated based on: 1) number of times a player’s submission is selected as correct, whether a player selects the correct ending to the proverb, and whether anyone select the correct proverb (scored by the Reader). Like Balderdash, this one is currently out-of-print, so check auction sites and/or garage sales.
Like Scattergories, players (or teams) must come up with a word matching a category; in this word-based game, players/teams compete to form words that use as many consonants as possible. Once a player/team uses a specific consonant a designated number of times, they claim the letter and score a point.
Paperback is an excellent combination of word-forming and deck-building games.
“Knit Wit is a word game along the lines of Scattergories, with players trying to think up unique answers to particular categories in order to score points, but instead of using fixed categories, players generate their own categories while playing the game.”
What other versions of Scattergories exist?
Scattergories: The Card Game
The simplest way to describe this game is: Scattegories + Slap Jack. A letter card and category card are flipped over, and the the first person to slap the “I Know” card can say an acceptable word/phrase (that matches the category + letter) to claim a point. Check Amazon for more information or to purchase (affiliate link).
A simplified version with easier categories. This version is not readily available.
Scattergories: Bible Edition
This version is also not readily available.