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Scrabble 360

Updated: Dec 4, 2019

Scrabble 360 sounds like an ideal title for a game to be featured in 360˚ photos on Board's Eye View. But what is this game from Mattel? Is it just another repackaging of Scrabble?

Scrabble 360 seems to have appeared on toy shop shelves with little fanfare or publicity. It is so new, it hasn't even made it yet onto the BoardGameGeek database.

For starters, Scrabble 360 isn’t really Scrabble. Scrabble has become a household name with a recognition factor that surely rivals even Monopoly. It is, I suppose, unsurprising therefore that the license holders for the original game would want to use the brand to help sell a new game.

The meticulous calculation of how many of each letter should be included in a set and what value should be given to each letter was key to the success of Scrabble. In a pre-computer age, it was arrived at by the game’s inventor, Alfred Mosher Butts, by painstakingly analysing the words in the New York Times, Saturday Evening Post and Herald Tribune. Aside from the fact that it’s a word game, the only thing Scrabble 360 shares with its namesake is this set of 100 letter tiles and their values.

In this game, players each have a 4x4 grid on which to place letters and which incorporates a pegboard for scoring. Sixteen letters are drawn from a bag and placed on a central board so that four tiles are in front of each of the up to four players. The central board is mounted on a turntable. Each turn, players choose one of the four letters in front of them and place it in their personal grid. When all have chosen, the tiles on the central board are replenished and the board is rotated. Play continues, with players scoring for each completed four-letter word. The winner is the first player to reach 44 points.

This is a simple but actually rather good game. It is genuinely playable with up to four players. You will have an advantage if you are sitting with a weak player on your right, but this is much less marked than with its namesake, where it weighs so heavily as to make conventional Scrabble virtually unplayable with three or four unless all the players are very evenly matched.

Scrabble 360 plays quickly and it is engaging. In effect, players are drafting letters but this is open drafting because players can see what letters are likely to reach them in the next couple of turns – unless of course those letters are snagged by the other players…

The components are sturdy and make this package remarkably good value. It sells in the UK for under £20. That's surely a bargain.

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