Last week we finally broke a streak of being able to find games licensed in the Scrabble world. Scrabble Overturn was unique in that instead of using tiles, it employed cylinders with colored letters that could be stolen by an opponent. Scoring was mostly based on end-game positioning with a few bonuses along the way for longer words.
Whoever donated the game must’ve been a fan of everything Scrabble. Not only was there a classic version we left behind, there was a complete copy of Scrabble Up by Milton Bradley. This example reverts to the use of standard Scrabble tiles, which makes finding replacements pretty easy. But except for a variation in the rules, the tile values are not used at all during the game!
Scrabble Up includes an elevated custom plastic board, 47 letter tiles (two are used as decoration on the board) and a plastic marble. After assembling the ramp, vowels are separated from the consonants. Both groups are shuffled independently and each player draws two vowels and four consonants, which are stacked in any order on your side of the board. The rest of the tiles are shuffled back together while the plastic marble is set in the circle at the top of the winding groove.
Instead of taking turns, in Scrabble Up both players act at the same time and is played over rounds. At the beginning of a round both players will draw one tile and place it on the square above the tiles on their opponent’s rack. You will examine your opponent’s tiles and try to make a legal word out of them without touching the tiles. A word must be at least two letters long, start with the letter of the tile you just placed (blanks can be anything) and may include words that are parts of speech, slang, obsolete, etc. Only words that are always capitalized, abbreviations, prefixes and suffixes, or words requiring an apostrophe or hyphen are disallowed.
When one player calls out a valid word, they will push the marble so it starts rolling down the ramp. This acts as a timer for the other player who must call out a word from their opponent’s letters before the marble reaches the bottom. When the marble reaches the bottom, both players take the tiles in their words from their opponent’s stack and places them into theirs. If the second player was unable to form a word in time, they will receive no tiles.
Either player may challenge another player’s word, and if deemed unacceptable, the challenged player must give the tiles back! Additional rounds are played in the same manner beginning with each person drawing a new tile, placing it in their opponent’s stack and forming a word beginning with that letter. After any round of play, the first player to make a word that either fills the top square or goes beyond the top of the board, wins Scrabble Up. If both players manage to reach the peak during the same round, the player who goes the farthest (most extra tiles) wins.
As you might have guessed, the key to success is in forming longer words since you get to add all of those tiles to your own row. But, that will make it easier for the other player to form words of their own! The official rules never mentioned it, but I believe a house rule is that you cannot re-use any word which has been called out by either player. You can find a number of good condition used copies on eBay. If you happen across one at thrift for a few bucks, it is probably good for a couple plays! That’s cheap entertainment!
What do you think of this variation of Scrabble?