SNAP Review – Scribbly Gum
In Australia, moth larvae burrow below the outer bark of eucalyptus trees, leaving distinctive squiggly trails.
What if you could do it too? Can you find the most food inside the scribbly gum tree bark?
This is a SNAP review for Scribbly Gum.
Scribbly Gum is a flip-and-write game for one or more (really, any number of) players ages 6 and up. It’s designed by Phil Walker-Harding and published by his company Joey Games.
Scribbly Gum was illustrated by Meredith Walker-Harding, with an adorable scribbly gum larva (I can’t believe I just said that), and cute little icons for the three kinds of food. You’ll recognize Joey Games’ design in their art across all of their titles.
The only text in the game is on the movement tiles and the Achievements, and even those are illustrated in a way that clearly shows the meaning of the words, so no reading is actually required.
Mechanics – How to Play
First, give each player a sheet off this pad OR head to the Joey Games website to print one for everyone. We’ll include the link below. Just make sure everyone is on the same side of the sheet.
Shuffle the eight movement tiles, put one back in the box, and then lay out the other seven face-down in a row.
Start the first of three rounds by flipping over the first tile. These tiles give everyone a direction – Up, Down, Left, Right, Dotted Line, or a combination.
Every player draws a line starting from some filled-in circle on their pad to another circle in the direction given. Everyone gets four filled in circles to start the game.
When you fill in a circle, fill in the corresponding symbol on the Meal Tracker on the right side of the board, starting at the top. Take note that some circles have multiple icons in them, so you fill out multiple circles in the Meal Tracker. Water droplets are wild!
Your goal in Scribbly Gum is to create full meals for your larva. Get a nut, a leaf, and a blossom to create a meal.
Once everyone finishes, flip the next tile, and so on, until all of the tiles are face up.
Then, tally up your meal points and write that value in the circle for that round at the bottom.
Shuffle up the eight tiles and start again for round two. Your scores will be cumulative, so any meal you get in the first round, you’ll be able to count three times.
If you’re an advanced group, you can add in the Achievement Tiles. Those give you extra points for things like being the first player to have seven meals, or being the first player to fill in all four corner spots.
When you complete an Achievement, add those points in the Achievement area at the bottom and flip those tiles over to show a lower point value that other players can still get for completing the achievement later.
Add everything up after three rounds for your final score. The highest score wins!
What did we Expect from Scribbly Gum?
You can tell a lot from the box, the age range, and the focus of Joey Games. We knew this would be a game about Australia, about animals in Australia, and we knew it would be in some way educational, and it could be played by lots of different age ranges.
That’s a lot of stuff.
It is a lot of stuff. But we knew more!
We knew that it was designed by Phil Walker-Harding, who makes incredible, legendary games that are all somehow easy to understand.
Basically, we expected it to be good.
But there were surprises! (That happens…) What surprised us about Scribbly Gum?
The biggest surprise is that Scribbly Gum feels incredibly natural to play. You can sit down with a kid and still be playing in under a minute.
We love that the rulebook includes tips for how to play in “classroom mode” with a teacher showing the movement tiles and everyone marking on their own sheets. Being able to print sheets right off the website is a fantastic way to scale this game easily for a classroom full of kids.
Did you also know you can even go on the website and use a digital tile flipper too? This is so easy for a classroom!
We also saw Joey Games really double down on sustainability in this game. Everything in the rulebook shows just how thoughtful Phil and Meredith are, and they talk about how they’re giving back on the last page of the rulebook.
That’s a lot. Do we recommend Scribbly Gum?
Scribbly Gum fits the theme so well, it’s so simple, and it ticks so many boxes about what good, conscious game design is in 2023. We absolutely recommend this for the elementary school gamers in your life. Bonus points if they want to learn about Australia.
We’re going to rate Scribbly Gum 4 ½ larvae out of five.
The Family Gamers received a copy of Scribbly Gum from Joey Games for this review.
Scribbly Gum is not yet available in the USA, but it is in Australia.
SNAP review music is Avalanche, provided courtesy of You Bred Raptors?
Age Range: 6+
Number of Players: 1+
Playtime: 15-20 minutes