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Average Rating: 2 in 1 review
If you're looking for a leisurely, take-your-time word game, don't bother reading any further. Scrabble Up certainly doesn't qualify! In this game, you and your opponent play at the same time, racing each other to think up words.
Scrabble Up is played on a slanted game board. The board consists of a total of 38 squares (19 on each side) that each player uses to stack letters. In the middle of the board is a winding track where a marble rolls down. (This winding track is actually nothing more than a cute, six or seven second timer.)
A game begins with each player receiving six letters consisting of exactly four consonants and two vowels. Each round begins by drawing a random letter from the stock pile and placing it on the square above the tiles on your opponent's track. Your goal is to then make a word using any or all of the tiles on that track that begin with this random letter. The first person who decides upon a word calls it out and starts the marble rolling down the center of the board, along the winding path. Once this first person calls out a word, they are not allowed to call out another one. Their opponent has until the marble stops rolling to come up with a word from the letters on the other player's track.
If your word is valid, the letters in the word you formed become YOUR letters and are moved over from your opponent's track to your own track. The letters your opponent used in his/her valid word are moved over to his/her track. The result of this is that throughout the course of the game, different letters are constantly being swapped back and forth from each track.
In the main game, forming longer words is best, since the object is to be the first person, after a round of play, to reach (or go beyond) the top square. For example, after the first round, if you come up with a five letter word, while your opponent can only make a three letter one, your own track will now consist of nine letters and your opponent's track will now have but five. (You started with seven, gained five letters from the word you formed, and then lost three letters from the word your opponent formed. Your opponent also started with seven letters, gained three letters from the word he/she formed and then lost five letters from the word you formed.) Note however, that although you out-performed your opponent this round, he/she now has more letters than you do to attempt to form a word in the next round. Remember, your opponent attempts to form words from your track and vice versa.
At most, the entire game will last just 13 rounds and each round usually takes less than a minute or two.
Those who are good at playing and solving anagram-type puzzles/word games might actually have more of an advantage over one who has a larger vocabulary. In Scrabble Up you are not allowed to shuffle your opponent's letters around in an attempt to come up with a word... it must all be done in your head.
A variation described in the rules changes the objective to that of scoring the most points. For example, finding and announcing the seven-letter word "streets" would probably be a good choice in the main game. However, in this alternate point-scoring variation, this word would only gain seven points, as each letter in "streets" uses a one-point value tile. As an alternative, forming the simple three letter word "why" would gain a full twelve points, for a net of five points over "streets", despite being four letters shorter.
The verdict? I haven't played Scrabble Up enough times to decide if it's a good game or not. The few times I played, I found it interesting and different, but I'm not sure it's capable of holding my interest for very long. Of course, it's possible that I simply don't enjoy being forced to think so quickly. Thus, I might actually prefer playing with modified rules, where one can take their own sweet time in an attempt to form words. If so, additional elements like leaving a balanced tile rack for the next round come into play. (This exists now, but when racing to think of a word, there simply isn't any time to worry about such subtleties.) Scrabble Up certainly isn't [page scan/se=0050/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]Scrabble, and unlike Scrabble, you're almost certainly not going to find any weekend Scrabble Up tournaments, or books devoted to the game, but it's probably a nice change of pace if you enjoy quick-thinking word games. 2.5 Stars.