Scramblitz is a puzzle game. It’s a game, because you compete against players to be the first. Up to six players, as a matter of fact. It’s a puzzle because you have to solve it. It’s, in fact, primarily, you might say, a puzzle. A unique puzzle, you might notice. A very challenging puzzle, you will inevitably conclude.

There are six sets of 16 pattern tiles. These are called pattern tiles because they have a colorful pattern on one side of them. There are eight different such patterns, and two different color backs – black or white. This proves to be deliciously annoying.

There are 6 cardboard playing mats. They unfold to reveal a green area within which to fit your tiles.

Each set of pattern tiles is differentiated by a small shape in the center, which is punched out, making it easier for each player to determine whether or not she has a complete set. When you first open the box, you will discover each set of pattern tiles is already separated, and lovingly held together by a rubber band. These are good, these rubber bands. Useful. Don’t lose them.

There is also a set of 50 different puzzle cards. They are worth different points (indicated on the top and bottom border of each card). One of these is selected at random, turned over, and the competition begins.

Now to the sticking point. Upon inspection, you will notice that only some of the spaces on the puzzle card show colored patterns. The remainder are either black, white, or blank. So, you see, after you’ve placed all of your pattern tiles pattern-side-up as so clearly indicated by the puzzle card, and you go merrily on to fill the remainder of the spaces with black, or white tiles; you will inevitably notice that there are not enough of one or the other or both. Meaning that one or many of the pattern tiles you have so cleverly placed need(s) to be turned over. Which means that you’ll have to turn over one of the other black- or white-side-up pattern tiles that has the pattern on the tile you just turned over, if you catch my drift. Which results, unavoidably, in much frenzied flipping, unfortunate forgetting, much more frenzied flipping, and deep sighing once someone else solves the puzzle first, and secures the puzzle card as her own.

The game goes on until some extremely gifted player has been the first to collect enough puzzle cards to total 25 or more.

Designed by John A. Forte, Jr. Available from Mindware. Scramblitz comes in a tin box. The components (the tiles and puzzle cards) are of thick cardboard stock. The mats are made of glossy cardboard, thin enough to fold, sturdy enough to withstand years of hard-pressed play. Fun of excruciatingly major proportions.

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