The Scrambled States of America – the 10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition is, as you might have guessed, the Deluxe Edition of the similarly, but not quite as deluxe edition of the Scrambled States of America Game, which is like, but clearly not the same as the more youth-oriented edition, The Scrambled States 2. All of which might leave you to conclude that there’s something here of genuine play value.
We are delighted to inform you that your conclusion is uncannily accurate.
Yes, it is a geography game, and equally yes, it is about the States of our united America. So, should you find yourself having become a rationale-needing parent, yes, you can tell yourself that your interest in playing this game with your chilren has nothing at all to do with fun – albeit surprisingly hilarious, sometimes silly, often challenging, ultimately delightful, fun-wise.
There are two decks of cards – blue and red. The blue-backed cards are the State cards. There are 50 of these, like any good set of United State cards, one for each State. On each there is a cartoon illustration of the State (with a face on it), the name of the state, the capital, and the nickname. These all come into play during the game. The red-backed cards make up what is called the “Scramble” deck. As in Scrambled States. The Scramble deck contains the challenges relating to the States. There are two kinds of challenges: Find-It (in which you have to find the State in your hand that has a certain color or touches a certain number of other States or has a certain number of letters or a person’s name in its capital), and Go the Distance. When you draw a Go the Distance card you turn over one extra State card from the blue-backed deck, and then use your map (each of up to 4 players gets their own map) to find which of the States in your hand is the closest.
There’s a lot of luck (you only have five of fifty States at any one time with which to solve a particular challenge) – but enough skill to keep you engaged. And, yes, you are learning, constantly. Picking up facts about the States, their capitals, their locations, their geographic connections. Which is incidental to the game play, but inevitable. All of which makes Scrambled States of America something close to the epitome of educational games. You’re having fun. You’re learning. The fun never stops. And the learning is not really the point. The point is playing together, sharing fun, knowledge, caring about each other, helping each other – all those really important things that come from playing a good game together.
This game has been around a long time, and the rules reflect the wisdom that comes from a game that has been played for more than ten years: easy to read, well organized, and including a version for early readers and several house rules to add longevity to an already deeply play-worthy game.
Scrambled States of America is based on the children’s book (whose title, by less-than-coincidence, is The Scrambled States of America) – a wonderfully playful, popular children’s book, a copy of which is included in the 10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition.