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Scattergories Categories Board Game Rules Explained With Pictures

Scattergories Categories Board Game Rules Explained With Pictures

Objective of Scattergories Categories

The object of Scattergories Categories is to be the first player to score 25 points by providing answers that match a category and clue.


  • Each player takes a score pad and a pen/pencil.
  • Randomly take ten cards from the deck. Place them in the center of the table.
  • Place the sand timer and plastic card base in the middle of the table.

Preparing the Current Round

To start each round one of the players takes the top card from the center of the table. They will insert it into the card base. It should be placed where it is visible for all of the players. The player who places the card in the middle reads the category (large print word) out loud to the rest of the players.

Card from Scattergories Categories
For this round the players will play with the category “SO PARCHED”. All of the answers provided this round need to be beverages.

Each player then writes down the letters from the current category. They should write one letter in each box along the left side of their score pad.

Write down letters in Scattergories Categories
This player has written down all of the letters from the category along the left side of the sheet.

Once all of the players have written down each of the letters, one of the players reads off the clue from the current card. This is printed along the side of the card.

Once everyone is ready the two minute timer is turned over. The round then begins

Playing Scattergories Categories

Once a round has started all of the players race to try and complete their list.

Each player needs to come up with an answer for each letter on their score pad that matches the clue for the category. Each answer has to start with the letter along the right side of the row.  They will write down each answer in the box next to the corresponding letter.

Writing down an answer in Scattergories Categories
This player has decided to write down “soda” using the S.

For example lets look at the card “My Precious”. The clue for this card is Non-Human TV and Movie Characters. For this card a player will start trying to come up with characters who start with each letter in “My Precious”. For example a player can say Mothra for M. A player could say “Pikachu” for P. For C you could say Chewbacca. This player will try to come up with an answer for each letter before time runs out.

Most answers are allowed as long as they start with the same letter as the row they are written in. There are some rules that need to be followed when coming up with answers though. See the Acceptable Answers section below for more details.

You do not have to come up with an answer for each letter, and you do not have to find an answer for each letter in order. You can skip a letter(s) if you are having a hard time coming up with an answer.

When the timer runs out, the round ends immediately. All player must stop writing answers. Scattergories Categories then moves onto scoring. 

End of round in Scattergories Categories
The round has ended. This player was able to come up with an answer for each of the letters.

Acceptable Answers

When coming up with answers you must follow these rules.

You can use an answer that consists of multiple words. The first word has to start with the key letter though (the letter in the box for your current line).

Writing down a multi-word answer
For the O this player has wrote down orange juice. This is allowed because the first word starts with an O.

Words such as a, an, the, etc. can not be used as the first word for an answer.

You can add adjectives to the start of an answer in order to use the key letter. These adjectives need to add to the answer to make it fit the category/clue though. You cannot add on unnecessary adjectives just to be able to use the key letter.

Writing down a word that uses an adjective
For the letter D, this player wrote down Diet Pepsi.

A player may not write the same answer down multiple times for the same category.

When using a proper name for an answer, you can use either the first or last name.

Using a proper name for an answer in Scattergories Categories
For the C this player decided to use the answer Coca-Cola since proper names are allowed.


Starting with the oldest player, each player will take turns reading off the answers they wrote down during the round.

For each answer all of the other players will look at their own score pad sheet and compare it to the answer they wrote down.

If one or more other players wrote down the answer, no one scores a point for that answer.

Players providing duplicate answers
These two players used the same answers for O, A, and C. Neither player will score points for those answers.

There is one exception to this. If the current category has a letter that is repeated, players will compare the answers for the same instance of the letter. For example in marriage there are two R’s. Players will compare the answers they provided for the first R. Then they will separately compare the answers they provided for the second R. If one player provided the answer for the first R and the other player provided the answer for the second R, both players still score one point for the answer.

Scoring points for duplicate answers that were for different letters
Both of these players used the answer “sweets”. They can both score points for sweets though since they both used a different letter from the category “DESSERTS”.

If no one wrote down the answer, the player that wrote it down scores one point for it.

Scoring points in Scattergories Categories
This player came up with four answers that none of the other players wrote down. They will score four points this round.

After the current player has read out all of their answers and scored points, another player reads out their answers. This continues until everyone has had a chance to read off their answers.

Challenging An Answer

Should one or more of the players think an answer is incorrect, you can challenge it. See the Acceptable Answers section for what answers can be used. All of the players then vote on whether the answer is acceptable. If a majority of the players vote that the answer shouldn’t count, you cannot score a point for it.

Next Round

If none of the players have scored enough points to win the game, you will play another round following the same rules as the first round (see above). Each player should keep track of the points they have scored throughout the game.

Winning Scattergories Categories

When one or more players have scored 25 or more points, the game ends. Finish the current round. The players then compare their scores. The player that has scored the most points wins the game.

Variant Game

Players can choose to use a game variant while playing. This variant rule applies to proper names and titles. If you provide an answer that uses the key letter multiple times, you will score one point each time you use it. For example Mickey Mouse would score two points since both words start with a M.

Scattergories Categories FAQ

If you have any questions about how to play Scattergories Categories, leave a comment below on this post. I will try to answer any questions asked as best and as quickly as possible.

Components for Scattergories Categories


  • 125 Category cards (double sided)
  • Two minute sand timer
  • Card base
  • Player score pad sheets
  • Instructions

Year: 2010 | Publisher: Winning Moves Games | Designer: Kim Vandenbroucke

Genres: Family, Party, Word

Ages: 12+ | Number of Players: 2-4 | Length of Game: 20-40 minutes

Difficulty: Light | Strategy: Light | Luck: Light-Moderate

For more board and card game how to plays/rules and reviews, check out our complete alphabetical list of board game posts.


Sunday 28th of January 2024

If one person writes “Lillies” and another person writes “Lilly, Easter” for name of flower, would they cancel each other out, or would they be considered different because the one name is a proper name and the other is a general grouping of a type of flower?


Monday 29th of January 2024

@Eric Mortensen, thank you for your answer.

Eric Mortensen

Monday 29th of January 2024

This is one of the situations where players will have to agree on how it should be handled. The rules don't specifically say how close two words have to be to one another in order to count as duplicates. It really comes down to what the group you are playing with thinks. The best case scenario is to have all of the players agree before you start playing how you will handle these type of situations. If all of the players agree you should use those guidelines when scoring during the game. Whenever a situation like this comes up, a player can challenge the answers. Whichever side gets more votes is binding. Therefore if a majority of the players think they should count as unique answers, they will count as unique answers. If a majority think they should count as the same answer, they won't score points. To avoid arguments it is always best if players can agree how they will be handled before the game starts.