I love the tactics of Scrabble - putting your high-point letter on a triple letter score that goes both directions is very satisfying - but to get good at Scrabble you're memorizing a nearly arbitrary list of words - it starts to feel like random patterns. If only there was a game that had that tactical feel of Scrabble without the word memorization.
I came across my parents Rummikub set this weekend and had the brainstorm that a Rummy-Scrabble hybrid would be the ideal mix. (And realized something I always wanted with Rummikub was for the tiles to connect in crossword-like patterns.) And, of course, it would be called Rumble. Or maybe Rummble. It's the exact opposite of this game: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00000IV95/002-5601983-8384041?v=glance, which I just discovered with a quick Googling. No words - you're making crossing patterns of Rummy melds - runs (aka straights) and ns of a kind.
After some solo playtesting I decided there needed to be more patterns -- otherwise there wasn't a whole lot of choice -- so I allowed flushes (but when playing them, the tiles have to be in sequence) and two-tile dyads (but not two-tile flushes, which was too easy, and that bothers me a little as the rules became a little too complex). Still not enough possible patterns, so added that you can make runs and flushes in the opposite direction.
And then playtested it, just once, with the family. And we enjoyed it. There's lots of feeling clever: "Look, I made a straight here alongside this other straight so I got all these little pairs and the 10's on the double tile so I score 20 in both directions. Woo!" Skaff recently told me that he thinks most games serve the same purpose as Colt 45 - they're just there to pass the time and numb the pain. Gotta admit, this seems to be one of those games. Enjoyable. High variance. Fun once. The arithmetic is a little much - it might be a good game for kids to practice arithmetic.
Anyhow, without further ado, here's how you can play:
- Get a Rummikub set. Or you can get two decks of cards with two jokers, but then you're going to have a big board. When I did my single, solitary playtest, we used all the cards, but you probably want to lose the aces and anything higher than a 9 to reduce variance.
- Four sheets of 8.5 x 11 paper can fit 13x13 rummikub tiles on them. Graph it up. Or make a huge board for your playing cards.
- Mark it like a Scrabble board - star in the center - "X2 TILE" instead of double letter score, "X2 SET" instead of double word score, etc. Scrabble boards are actually 15x15, so you have to compress things a little, and I recommend putting the X3 SET scores just in the corners.
- So now you're ready to play. Deal 10 tiles/cards to each player. Then draw for first: whoever draws highest goes.
- On your turn you can make one set, which must connect to the tiles already on the board: either n of a kind, a run or a straight, or a flush. If you make a flush the numbers have to be in sequence. The set can incidentally make any number of collateral sets, which all have to be legal.
Examples of legal sets:
3 3 - two of a kind
4 4 4 - three of a kind
5 5 5 5 - four of a kind
12 12 12 12 ? - five of a kind, using wild (with Rummikub it's numbers, with cards it would be Q Q Q Q Joker)
3 7 9 (all the same color)
11 10 8 7 3 (all the same color - the "backwards" flush)
3 4 5 6 7 (different colors)
7 6 5 4 3 (different colors, the "backwards" straight)
3 4 (different colors - a 2 tile straight is legal, although a 2 tile flush is not)
7 8 9 10 (all the same color) - this is a straight flush and you get double points for it. (Mom's idea)
Examples of illegal sets:
8 7 11 10 3 (all the same color) Flushes have to be sequential, either low-high or high-low.
8 11 (the same color) Flushes have to be at least three tiles
4 8 10 (all different colors) This is junk. Why'd you think this was a set?
- The first person to go must play on the star.
- Scoring: you score the value of the tile/card. If you place tiles on special squares, you score the double/triple tiles first, and then the straight flush bonus (if you made a straight flush), and then the double/triple sets. The bonus for a special square is only given once.
So, say the board looks like this:
2 3 4 5
And you play:
1 2 3 4 5
You get 4 for the 1, 1, 1, 1 and 15 for the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 that you built on. Total 19.
2 3 4 5
And you play (damn non-monospaced fonts - hope this looks right on your screen)
2 3 4 5
5 7 9 (flush)
You get 10 for the 5 5 and 21 for the flush - total 31.
Finally, let's say we've got:
8 8 8
Where the X is an X2 tile bonus, and you play:
8 8 8
Where the 8 is the same color as the 7.
You get 24 for the 8 - 8 (8x2 + 8)
And you get 46 for the 8 - 7 (8x2 + 7)x2 for the straight flush bonus - that's right, two tile straight flushes are legal.
After you play you refill your hand to ten tiles/cards.
If you use all ten tiles in one go, that's a "Rummmble!" and you get +100 points.
The game ends when someone uses their last tile and there are none left to refill, at which point the remaining players total up the points in their hand and subtract it from their score and add it to the goer-outer-firster's score.
If somebody's already invented this game let me know.