Scram! Critters vs. Campers
Chase off critters faster than the other team!
I don’t camp. I have never wanted to be out in nature overnight; swatting bugs, dealing with uncontrollable weather conditions, and with no restrooms. And what if an animal tore into my campsite and destroyed everything, or tried to eat me alive? In the spirit of savoring the outdoors, I’ll relish the beauty of nature from my patio while safely playing Scram!
Campers aim to have the tidiest campsite at the end of the game by having the lowest cumulative team score. This is achieved by discarding cards and shooing critters from their campsites. Scram! plays 3-6 players in about 30 minutes. Scram! stands as a more family-friendly iteration of the Silver series, also published by Bezier Games.
Setup is quick and easy. For a four or six player game, divide into even teams and take seats around the table such that each camper sits between two opponents. Select a random starting camper. The player to their right should shuffle and deal three cards face down and two face up to each player, forming their campsite. No one should look at their face down cards.
Next, flip the top card of the deck to start the discard pile. Grab a pad of paper and pen for scoring or download the official Scram! scoring app.
With four players, Scram! plays over four rounds but with six players it’s only three rounds.
On your turn, you’ll either draw the top card from the deck, draw the top card of the discard pile, or yell Scram!. After drawing cards, you’ll also take an additional step.
If you draw a card from the discard pile, you must use it to replace cards. It goes into your campsite face up.
Draw from the top of the deck and secretly look at the card. Subsequently, determine how to use it: for its action, to replace cards, or as a discard. Never show or tell others what you drew.
Use the Action
To play the card for the action, discard it and perform the action on it. Unless specified otherwise, actions are applicable to any campsite and the top cards of the action deck.
Replacing cards in your campsite
Replacing cards is the way to rid your campsite of unwanted critters to reduce your team’s score. After drawing, put this card near your campsite. Now, choose one or more cards in your (or your teammate’s) camp and slide them forward, flipping over any face down cards.
Discard any matching cards. Then, slide the newly drawn card into your campsite and slide cards closer together. But if you revealed three or more unique cards, you’ll incur a penalty. Draw an extra card from the draw deck for three unique cards, two cards for four unique cards, etc. Add these penalty cards to your campsite.
Sometimes the card drawn isn’t useful to your campsite. In this case, discard it and end your turn.
You may declare Scram! when two or fewer cards are present in your campsite at the start of your turn. After declaring, your turn immediately ends. All others take a final turn, then the round ends.
The round ends either after player declares Scram!, or when the draw deck is empty at the start of any camper’s turn.
Then, players reveal all cards in their campsite and each team sums up the values of all cards to determine their score for the round. If the team who declared Scram! has the lowest team score, they score zero for the round. The team who didn’t call Scram! scores the collective sum of their all their cards.
But if the team who declared Scram! has the higher score for the round, they’ll score that, plus an additional 10 points.
Use the app or jot down scores on paper. The camper with the lowest individual score from the winning team goes first in the next round.
After the set number of rounds, the team with the lowest cumulative score wins.
The name fits!
Getting animals to Scram! from your campsite is quite fun and playing as a team heightens the enjoyment. Our family loved that we could play together, and playing with younger players shouldn’t be too hard. Since Scram! is team based, parents can help kids discuss strategy, within the confines of the rules.
And since the game has three or four rounds, so you always have a chance to regroup and do better in the next round.
Each turn has a meaningful gameplay choices. Action cards are key to viewing face-down cards and getting rid of unwanted critters. As you reveal face-down cards in your teammate’s campsites, it will be easier to Replace sets of matching cards.
Many Action cards allow you to swap, which allows for some take-that. And why wouldn’t you want to give someone else a 12 or 13 card? Swapping cards around camps can also set up a future Replace. And that’s the beauty of the mechanics in Scram!: one teammate can setup the next teammate’s turn.
Sometimes gambling on a face-down card pays off, especially when a lower number takes its place. There’s a level of chance there as well. Do you draw from the discard pile and to replace cards, knowing what number it is, or take the chance drawing blind from the deck? That’s where some of those exciting high-five moments come in Scram!
Scram! is a hit for our crew because it’s light, strategic, and has little mental overload. Turns go quick and kids will stay engaged. While we only were able to get four players to the table, it would be a hoot at six.
Scram! also has modified rules for three players that turn the game into “solo versus duo”. It’s perfect for when only one parent is around with two kids and they’ll enjoy ganging up on mom or dad. While you couldn’t pay me to camp, I’d happily play Scram! anytime. Its a great stepping stone game for families before trying the Silver series.
Bezier Games provided The Family Gamers a promotional copy of Scram! for this review.
This post contains affiliate links, which do not change your price, but help support The Family Gamers.
Scram! Critters vs. Campers
Age Range: 15+ (we say 8+)
Number of Players: 3-4, 6
Playtime: 30 minutes