REVIEW – Scattergories

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Name: Scattergories
Publisher: Hasbro
Type: Party game, word game
Players: 2-6
Best with: 4-6
Length of Playtime: 5-10 minutes per round, usually with three rounds per game


Give It to Me Quick: Classic party game, simple theme. Think of words that begin with the rolled letter, matching a given list. Quick starter game.



Scattergories is a word/party game where players will be thinking of words in a List of categories that start with a given letter. Introduced in 1988, it’s been reskinned and released several times which seems to reflect a continued popularity.

Simple concept

Simple concept

Gameplay Summary

At the beginning of each round, the 20 sided die is rolled to determine which letter will be used in the round. Players collectively choose a List to start with and then start the three minute timer. Before the time runs out, players must think of a word beginning with the rolled letter for each of the 12 categories on the List. For example, if one of the categories was “Cartoon characters” and the letter rolled was “B”, someone might write down “Barney Rubble” on their card. Someone else might write “Bugs Bunny” — worth two points for the double b’s.

A few of the included lists

A few of the included lists

Once the timer runs out, players read through their paper and eliminate any answers that were duplicated by someone else. Players count up how many points they scored, which completes the round. Typically, three or more rounds are played per game, since the rounds move quickly.

After a completed game of three lists.

After a completed game of three lists.

How many players is it best with?

More players up to the limit of six make it more fun, as you’ll have more of the “oh, I had that one too!” moments that keep the game interesting and less of a human dictionary game. It’s sort of a party game. Teams can work if a pair splits the List: “you take these 6, and I’ll take those 6.” Otherwise, teams don’t work very well since you’ll hear what other teams are whispering to each other and every second counts.


Our Positives

Scattergories sets up fast and plays fast. It’s explained how to play in 10 seconds and it is fun to challenge yourself to think of different words than anyone else. It covers all age groups; anyone can think of words! It’s easily played away from a table, since everything you need is in the nice included folder and game booklet per person. We’ve played on vacation several times in hotel rooms where people are sprawled on beds, lying on the floor, or relaxing in a chair.


Our Negatives

Even though you’re playing with others, it feels more like you’re just challenging yourself. A lot of the game is spent in silence; a round begins with 3 minutes where everyone sits, thinks and writes down answers based on the List. Then, players go around the room reading their answers; player interaction is limited to challenges where players disagree on the validity of someone else’s word. Even in a typically non-competitive group, these challenges can be frustrating where some words count and some don’t. No matter what rules you set up beforehand (i.e. no adjectives), it’s guaranteed that some arguments will occur. You’ll run into something like this: “Things at a Beach” where someone writes “bacon.” “But there could be bacon at a beach!” That sort of thing.








35_party for a Party Yes, though limited to six players. Teams don’t work very well unless the two teammates work independently: “you take these 6 and I’ll take these 6.”
casual Casual Yes, easy to learn and play.
35_competitive Competitive If you’re really competitive when playing this, it hurts the game. Too many challenges of other players’ words get old quickly and start to sap the fun out of the game.
35_strategy Strategic Not really; the entire extent of strategy is to write down a word that you think your opponents won’t. That’s about it.


Final Thoughts on Scattergories

Basically, Scattergories is a game based on how much of a human dictionary you can be. It is more fun to play than that sounds, but if you’re not one for word games, this won’t be something you’ll particularly enjoy. It works as an intro game to a game night or in a setting where people are sprawled and relaxing away from a table.

Some people will be really good at this game, and others will really struggle. And then others will be okay. Typically, enjoyment of Scattergories is tied to how good you are at it. Even if not, this is a good classic game to have in your game closet.

Other word party games: Wise and Otherwise, Splickety Lit

Check out more reviews!












          • - Games play quickly; easy to do
          • - Anyone can learn and play
          • - Good intro game to a game night


          • - Can get tiresome after a few games
          • - Challenged words get frustrating

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