Updated: Oct 24
With cute cartoon art by Henry Hammond, Dan Chou's Scavenge is a short, simple yet surprisingly enjoyable push your luck card game.
Players are racoons rummaging through garbage cans. The garbage cans are the three decks, each made up of 23 identical cards. On a player's turn they can choose to scavenge from any one deck. They do this by turning over cards until they decide to stop or until they turn over a card that requires them to stop. Unless they hit the Noise card (of which there is just one in each deck), they'll get to take into their hand at the end of their turn all the point value cards they've turned over. The only other action a player can choose to take is to forego that turn's scavenge and instead 'stash' the cards from their hand: playing them to the table. A players' stash is safe, in that cards there cannot be lost. When the game ends, only the cards in players' stashes count.
That's it. It's a straightforward push your luck game. There's no 'take that' element. You aren't ever attempting to steal each other's cards.
If you describe Scavenge, then, it doesn't sound like much of a game. This just shows, however, that you can't judge a game just by reading the rules. It turns out that Scavenge is a lot of fun to play. Although there is only one Noise card in each of the three decks, each deck has two other cards that end your card draws and there are other cards that affect the deck by moving cards to and from the discard pile. There is also a card that forces all players with five or more cards in their hand to discard half of them. Although the majority of the cards are positive scoring cards, these manipulation cards introduce just enough mayhem to keep players on their toes. The game ends when any one of the draw decks runs down, so you won't want to risk the chance of running a deck dry if an opponent has a more valuable stash than you do. Likewise, when you are ahead of your rivals, the obvious strategy is to try to exhaust one of the decks. It is then that you could find the pesky Rat Swarm card keeps recycling five of the discards into the draw deck.
Scavenge takes 2–5 players, and even with the full complement of five, a game will rarely take more than 10 minutes. Scavenge then makes for a fun filler, and it's eminently suitable as a family game that can be played by both children and adults.