It’s been a while since we’ve found a unique word game at thrift, but this week was our lucky week. I believe the last one we found worthy of purchasing was last Spring when we bought Scrabble Word Rummy at our local Goodwill. You’ll have to look all the way back to December of last year to find the one before that – Wordrop!
It’s not that we don’t enjoy word games, they’re just not our favorite. Mostly because we know the adults have a huge advantage over the kids and that doesn’t add up to a fun game session for anyone. This week’s Thrift Treasure find also suffers from the same generational problem, but to a lesser extent.
Milton Bradley’s Jitters was originally issued in the mid-80’s and includes twelve custom letter dice, a dice cup, a mechanical timer and a deck of 20 oversized cards. The object of Jitters is to be the first person to amass 250 points by spelling words and scoring the cards in which you arrange them.
Each turn during Jitters is played independently with the active player starting by winding up the timer, starting it, drawing a card from the shuffled deck and rolling all twelve dice onto the table. Each card has a series of circles in a particular pattern. This is the arrangement you must create words with your dice using the top-facing result on each one. Some cards have independent words, while others intersect Scrabble-style.
As soon as you complete your card you have a decision to make. Either end your turn and add up your score (at the bottom of each card) or try to complete another by drawing another card and re-rolling all the dice. All cards completed before the timer runs out earn you point – unless you are unable to complete one! If you pushed your luck and can’t finish one, you’ll receive no points for the turn.
At any time during your turn you may re-roll ALL the dice together (not just some of them) in order to get a better letter distribution. Additionally, once per roll you may turn a die so that one of the letters on the side is now top-facing. All this happens while the timer is still running!
After your turn is complete, by either you stopping and scoring or by time running out, the deck of cards are checked to make sure there are enough for the next player (if not, just re-shuffle them). Turns move clockwise until one player has totaled 250 points or more (you’ll need a pen and paper to keep track). Finish up the current round so that all players have had the same number of turns and the person with the highest overall score is the winner of Jitters!
If you can’t find a copy of Jitters for yourself at thrift, there are plenty of copies on eBay for a wide range of prices. As always, make sure all of the pieces are present and that the mechanism in the timer still works. For a couple bucks, Jitters is worth trying out a couple times before re-donating it!
What’s your current favorite word game?