Spice up Your Social Life with Speed Scrabble

On any given evening you will find a crowd at 1701 16th Avenue South (home and practically-home to a large percentage of our friends). Most likely at least a portion of that crowd will be playing a game. Today for your reading pleasure, I've decided to compose a list (possibly to be continued) of our favorite and most played games . Stop on by to experience the fun for yourself or try these crowd-pleasers the next time you find yourself sitting around on the couch wrestling with the age-old question: "what should we do tonight?"

1. I'd say 5 out of 7 nights of the week you will find us playing at least one round of Speed Scrabble. This is a high-speed version of the fairly slow and boring original (hence the name), with all the same elements that make the original a classic even though it's slow and boring. Rounds last about 7-15 minutes, and up to 6 people can play comfortably (more than 6 and the game will just go really fast, combine two sets, and you can play with lots more.)
  • What you need: The tiles from a scrabble set. Pen and paper for keeping score.
  • How to play: spread out all the tiles, letter side down, on a playing surface (tables work nicely) and mix 'em up good. Each player takes 7 tiles and flips them over at the sound of "ready, set, GO." Each player attempts to use all seven of their tiles. Normal scrabble rules apply--spell left-to-right and up-to-down; proper nouns, contractions, obscure slang, and words that aren't English won't fly. The first player to arrange all 7 of their tiles shouts "Go!" and EVERYONE takes 1 tile from the pile. As tiles are drawn it is both acceptable and encouraged to rearrange your tiles to use all the letters. When there are no more tiles left to draw from, the first player to use all their letters shouts "done!" and all play stops immediately.
  • To score: Bonus points are alloted as follows: 10 to the first player finished, 10 to the player with the longest word, and 10 to the player with the most words. (the latter two awards can be split if there is a two-way tie, but are canceled out by a tie of 3 or more.) Now players add up the numbers on all of their active tiles. Each tile is only counted once. The tiles that they have failed to use are subtracted to come up with the final score. We usually play to 150 for one round.
2. A great and hilarious game for large groups is what we call "The Paper Game," but I've also heard it more aptly called Traveling Pictionary. Recalling lunch-time memories of Telephone combined with Pictionary, this game is great for party-sized crowds of 8-15, and takes about 20-30 minutes to play.
  • What you need: Lots of scraps of paper. (Use scrap paper! Let's not be wasteful!). How much paper you ask? Well, for x number of players, you need x times x small pieces of paper. for example, for a 12-player round, each player needs 12 post-it-note sized scraps of paper (144 scraps. I said lots). Everyone needs a writing utensil too.
  • How to play. Each player holds onto a stack of paper, and writes their initials on the top, right-hand corner of the top piece on the stack. Now everyone writes a phrase on that piece. It could be a ridiculous, made up phrase; a catch phrase; a movie title; something that happened to them; etc. When everyone has written their phrase, each person passes their entire stack to the person sitting on their right. Now each person looks at their neighbor's phrase, places it on the bottom of the stack, writes their initials on the new piece, and draws a picture-interpretation of their neighbor's phrase. After 30-45 seconds have passed, time is up and the stacks are passed to the right again. Now you will see a drawing, and be required to write a phrase interpreting the drawing (include your initials every time). This will go on, alternating between drawings to illustrate a phrase, and phrases to interpret drawings until the stacks have gone all the way around the circle.
  • There is no winner or score for this game (my favorite kind), but each person reads aloud their stack, starting from the original phrase and walking through the digression (which is usually outrageous), for everyone to enjoy.
3. Much more complicated, and time consuming, Settlers of Catan is a delightfully nerdy economics-based game that is sure to bring out the worst in all of us :) This game is for up to 4 players with the regular set, and up to 6 with the "expansion pack," and it usually lasts about an hour to an hour and a half.
  • What you need: The board game (or a friend, like Patrick Sewell, who has the game, the expansion pack, and all the extra's like "Knights of Catan," and "Seafarers of Catan" (two even more complicated, time-consuming, and nerdy versions).
  • How to play: The game is based on the trading of resources and the building of roads, settlements, and cities. The resources are brick, wheat, wood, sheep, and ore. Building requires certain combinations of resources, for example, a road costs a brick and a wood; a city costs three ore and 2 wheat. You get resources by placing settlements on the corners of hexagons which represent the resources and rolling dice and trading with the other players. Kind of hard to explain with no visuals, but it's fun.
  • Who wins? The first person to reach 10 points. Settlements are worth one point, cities 2, longest road 2, and there are also cards you can buy to give extra points including largest army.
  • Best part? A the end, all players are required to chant to the winner, "All hail __(insert name of winner)___, Lord of Catan!"
(photo courtesy flickr user nellee100)


Patrick Sewell said...

It's true. I'm unbelievably nerdy.

Melissa said...

Oh! Speed Scrabble is one of my favs! I've never played with the bonus points, though. I am sure that Thomas would kick my butt then. I always finish first but he has the best words, by far.

So fun!