Team games in our hobby are relatively rare. Usually, pitting two groups against each other is reserved for traditional card games like Bridge or Tichu. In those games, there are conventions and rules regarding what information can be shared with partners, creating a somewhat ambiguous team aspect.
With Scram!, I aimed to create a team game where all your cards are laid out on the table, both literally and figuratively. While each team member can play as they please, they are influenced by the cards in front of their teammate(s) and strive to make the best decisions for the team with each move. After conducting hundreds of playtests for Scram!, I'm consistently amazed by the camaraderie that emerges during these short 30-minute games. Teammates form strong bonds during and even after these games, with each individual feeling responsible for the outcome, whether it's a win or a loss.
The key to fostering this sense of camaraderie lies in the ability to directly impact your partner's cards in a way that improves their hand (usually). In Scram!, every player is dealt a line of five cards in front of them, with two cards face up. The objective is for the sum of your team's cards at the end of the round to be lower than the sum of your opponents' cards. On their turn, each player can choose a card from the draw deck or the discard pile. If they select from the draw deck, they have the option to use the card's special ability or keep it and discard one or more matching cards. Choosing from the discard pile, however, requires them to discard one or more matching cards. What sets this game apart is that players can also take matching cards from their teammate(s), reducing the number of cards in their possession. Furthermore, abilities from cards drawn from the deck can be applied to teammates' cards as well.
If a player has two or fewer cards and believes that their team has a lower sum than their opponents, they can call "Scram!" instead of taking a regular turn. All other players, including both opponents and teammates, take one additional turn, after which all cards are flipped up and counted. If the team that called "Scram!" has a lower or equal sum to their opponents, they score 0 points. Otherwise, they score their sum plus 10 points. Regardless, their opponents score the sum of their cards. After several rounds, the scores are tallied, and the team with the fewest points emerges as the winner!
Throughout the game, players gradually learn the values of face-down cards, both their own and those of their teammates. They cannot share this information directly with their teammates, but they can remind them of which face-down cards they have observed. Since information is crucial, players often inquire about their teammates' knowledge of face-down cards when deciding which card to discard. This becomes particularly significant as players are prohibited from disclosing the values of unseen cards.
Another clever team play involves using the "=" card. This card automatically matches the value of another discarded card. If a player possesses an "=" card, they can discard it along with another card from their teammate, knowing with certainty that the cards will match. Ideally, the player would like to eliminate a high-value card. However, with face-down cards, this can prove challenging. Nevertheless, if a teammate is unaware of a card's value, discarding it benefits the team, even if it happens to be a low-value card, as it reduces the unknown information regarding their cards.
There are numerous ways to collaborate as a team in Scram! Once you begin playing, you'll discover a variety of strategies, including leveraging the special abilities. For instance, the 12 card grants you the ability to view two cards and optionally swap them. By examining the top two cards of the draw deck (note that all abilities pertain to both the deck and the cards in front of players), you can influence which card your opponent receives and also determine the card your teammate will obtain on their turn. It's these subtle nuances that transform a simple card game into a profoundly strategic experience centered around assisting your team.
Scram! releases on August 9th, and is available for pre-order now. Wolfpack orders begin to ship on July 10th, more than 4 weeks before the release date, and they save 10% on their order!