Based on the book of the same name, The Scrambled States of America Game has been around since 2002. Having seen the game at thrift stores for years, I never really gave the game much of a thought as it didn’t look all that interesting. Looking at the box it just looked like another children’s educational game for teaching children the states. Having recently found the game on clearance at a thrift store I decided to finally give it a chance. After opening up the box I was actually a little surprised as the game wasn’t the educational game that I initially thought it would be. Instead it was a speed game that included an educational component. As I am a fan of speed games I was cautiously optimistic about the game. The Scrambled States of America Game might not be a highly original speed game, but it does a good job combining educational material with a game that is actually fun to play.
How to Play The Scrambled States of America Game
- Each player is given a U.S. map for reference.
- Separate the cards based on the color on the back of the cards. Shuffle both decks separately and place them face down in the middle of the table.
- Deal five state cards to each player. Each player places their state cards face up in front of them.
- The player to the left of the dealer will start the game.
Playing the Game
Each turn will begin with the current player flipping over the top card from the red deck and placing it face up on the table. They will then read out what it says on the card. What the players will then have to do depends on what type of card it is. There are two types of cards in the game: Find-It and Go the Distance.
The first type of cards are Find-It cards. These cards have various challenges that the players have to complete. When the card is revealed all of the players will look through the five cards in front of themselves to find one that fits what is written on the Find-It card. When a player finds a card that matches what is written on the card they slap the corresponding state card and announce the name of the state on the card.
The first player to slap a correct card will take the card, flip it over, and add it to their Home pile. If two or more players find a correct card and slap it at the same time, both players will flip over the state card and add it to their home pile. The player(s) will then add the top card from the state deck (blue) to their face up set of cards. This player will then flip over the next card.
If a player forgets to name the state they slap or they slap a card that doesn’t apply to the current card, the card stays where it is. The player will then take one of the state cards from their Home pile and place it on the bottom of the state deck .
If no players have a card that matches the current Find-It card, everyone passes one of their state cards to the player on their left. Another red card is then flipped over and the players try to match it.
Go the Distance Cards
When a Go the Distance card is drawn you will flip over the top card from the state deck.
Now all of the players will look through their face up cards to find the state that they think is closest to the state that was flipped over from the state deck. After all of the players have picked a state they will compare which one is closest to the chosen state. The player who chooses the state closest to the state that was flipped over will get to take the card they chose along with the state card that was flipped over and add them to their Home pile. This player will then turn over the red card for the next round.
If there are multiple states that seem the same distance from the state that was flipped over, use the ruler on the Go the Distance card to determine which was closest. If two states are the same distance away, the player that chose their card first will win the round.
End of Game
The game ends when all of the state cards have been taken from the state deck. All cards still face up in front of the players are discarded.
Each player counts up how many cards they added to their Home pile. The player with the most cards in their Home pile wins the game.
Some variant rules for the game are as follows:
Young Players and Early Readers: If there are only four players deal four states to each player. In this variant rule there is no time limit. Each player that has a state card that matches the current Find-It card can add the card to their Home pile.
Home State Advantage: If you are dealt the card for the state that you live in, say “I live here” and add it to your Home pile.
New and Improved: Whenever you get a state with the word “New” in the name, you can switch that card with a card in front of another player.
Multiple Match: If you have multiple states that match a Find-It card, you can send them all to your Home pile.
My Thoughts on The Scrambled States of America Game
At first glance most people will probably think that The Scrambled States of America Game is an educational game to teach children about the states. While the game has educational value (more on this later), I would mostly classify The Scrambled States of America Game as a speed game. In this regard it is pretty similar to your typical speed game. Basically each player is given a set of five cards. Each player has to match these five cards to the current challenge card that is flipped over. The first player to find a matching card will slap it. If they were correct they get to add the state card to their score pile. The player who collects the most state cards during the game wins.
As The Scrambled States of America Game doesn’t really differentiate itself from your typical speed game, your feelings on the game are likely going to come down to your opinion on speed games in general. If you generally hate speed games you are not going to like The Scrambled States of America Game. People who like speed games though should have some fun with the game. The game may look like a game for children and families and it is. Families with children in the right age group will likely enjoy the game the most, but I think older children and even adults can have some fun with the game as well. The speed mechanics might not be anything special, but they are still fun like most speed games. As a fan of speed games I enjoyed my time playing The Scrambled States of America Game showing that the game is not just for families with younger children.
As The Scrambled States of America Game was a game designed to be enjoyed by families it is not surprising that the game is quite easy to play. The rules are quite basic. Flip over the next challenge card and then find one of your state cards that matches the requirements on the card. That is basically all there is to learn about the game. The most challenging part about the game is actually knowing the states, their capitols, and nicknames so you can quickly reference all of your cards to find a match.The simplicity also leads to the game playing quite quickly. I would say that most games can be played in 10 minutes. The short length means you can quickly play a game when you don’t have a lot of free time. You can also easily play a couple games back to back.
With The Scrambled States of America Game being based around identifying and knowing information about the different states, you would think that the game would have some educational value. I would say that The Scrambled States of America Game is mostly a speed game, but it does have some educational elements as well. Some of the cards have little educational value including the cards that force you to find states of a certain color or with a certain facial appearance. The only educational value of these cards are that they force you to look at the state cards which might help children associate the state’s name with its shape. Some of the other Find-It cards can be pretty educational though as it forces you to find states with names, capitals, or nicknames that match certain letters or other information. These cards do a good job teaching children information while still making for an entertaining game.
I think the most educational cards though are the Go the Distance cards. First these cards don’t really have a time limit so players can study all of their cards without having to rush. Having to figure out which of your state cards is closest to the chosen state teaches players about the geography of the country. In addition to learning the shapes of each state kids will also learn where the states are positioned on the map. I am not a Geography teacher, but I think this could work quite well in teaching children U.S.A. Geography. I would actually be kind of curious how a variant rule using just this mechanic would work.
I would say that the biggest issue that I had with The Scrambled States of America Game is that it actually relies on quite a bit of luck for a speed game. Being able to quickly look through your cards along with a good reaction time is obviously the most important factor in the game. In some rounds though luck can be the deciding factor. It doesn’t matter how quickly you can find a matching card if you have no cards that match the current Find-It card. If you are unlucky in a round you basically have to sit back and wait for one of the other players to win the round. For Go The Distance cards you will always be able to submit cards. Depending on the location of the states though you might have no chance of winning the round. For example if the state card for the round is on the east coast and you only have cards from the west coast you aren’t going to win the round. In addition to making it easier for other players to get cards in the game, this reliance on luck hurts the game as you are forced to just sit back and wait for another player to win the round.
Other than the reliance on luck, The Scrambled States of America Game is one of those games that you play for a little while and then put away for another day. As the game plays pretty quickly you can play a couple games back to back in a short amount of time. After a couple games though it becomes a little repetitive as you are just doing the same things over and over again. At this point you are likely going to want to put the game away for another day. This doesn’t ruin the game, but it means that it is not the type of game that you will play for long stretches of time.
Finally I wanted to quickly talk about the components. Overall I would say that the components are kind of hit and miss. On the positive side I actually like the game’s art style. Like the book that the game is based off of, the game gives all of the states quirky faces. The artwork might seem corny to some people but I think it brings character. Other than the artwork though the components are pretty basic. The cards are your typical card size and thickness. With the game being a speed game where players are quickly trying to slap cards this will lead to the cards getting creased over time. The included maps while a nice reference are pretty thin sheets of paper that can easily be torn. The components serve their purpose but don’t do anything particularly special.
Should You Buy The Scrambled States of America Game?
The Scrambled States of America Game may look like an educational game, but I would say that it is more of a speed game. The goal of the game is to find a state card that matches the criteria on the most recently flipped challenge card. The game doesn’t really add anything unique to the speed game genre, but it is still a pretty fun speed game. The game is quick and easy to play meaning that the whole family can enjoy playing it. The game can even be fun for adults that enjoy speed games. The Scrambled States of America Game even has some educational value as it could help teach children about the states as well as their state capitals and nicknames. The biggest problem with the game though is that it relies on quite a bit of luck where you might not even have a card in front of you that can be used in a round. The game also gets a little repetitive after a while where after a couple games you will put it away for another day.
I basically have two recommendations for The Scrambled States of America Game. First if you are looking for an educational game to teach children the states that is also fun, I think The Scrambled States of America Game will do the job pretty well. Second people who like speed games should have some fun with the game. It is not something that you will play all of the time, but if you can get a good deal on the game it may be worth picking up.