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A game you should certainly SNATCH up.

Word games usually aren’t my thing, but I have found one that I absolutely love (and so does everyone else I meet), Snatch.

My biggest complaint with word games is just how slow they move.  I could cook dinner, or write a blog, while waiting for my turn to come back around in a game of Scrabble.  Up Words, is nearly as bad, although with fewer letters to choose from it might go measurably faster.  Boggle is equally boring to me.  Granted, we are all playing at the same exact time, but there is little to no interaction between players, which means I might as well be playing a computer game for all it would matter.   Snatch is different from all of these.

Snatch is a word game about speed and cunning.  Players take turns turning over tiles, much like the ones found in Scrabble, and as soon as a word can be made someone yells it out and *snatches* the word over to their side.  If someone sees a word that can be made, using someone else’s word and any of the letters in the center of the table, they can yell that out and *snatch* the word for themselves.  Scrabble rules apply, no personal nouns and such, but otherwise the only thing to remember is that if you steal a word you much change the core definition of the word.  Thus ‘cart’ could not legally become ‘carts’ or ‘carted’, but it could most definently become ‘crate’.  This makes the game very fast paced and full of lots of interaction between players.

In our group this game has spanned the generation gap.  Over the Fourth of July weekend, my husband and I took the game (along with about 30-40 others) up to the lake house where a slew of family was meeting.  We ended up playing the game with some teenage boys, and was surprised to find that they not only endurred through the game, but were caught later playing it just amongst themselves.  Sounds like the ultimate praise of a good game to me!

At this point readers are probably thinking, ‘Hey!  I have an old set of scrabble tiles laying around.  We could just use those!’.  Well, you would be right, it is theoretically possible to play the game with them, we have even done it in a pinch ourselves.  However, the distribution of letters is much different in Scrabble then it is Snatch, so you are likely to end up with a less fulfilling game.

Snatch runs for somewhere between $15-$20 depending on the retailer.  It comes in a small sturdy plastic tube for easy travel, and trust me, it will travel!  So if you don’t already own a copy, I would highly recommend snatching up a copy of Snatch right away.

This entry was posted by The_Null_Entry on Thursday, July 30th, 2009 at 3:37 pm and is filed under Board Game Reviews, Word Games .
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8 Comments

  1. parkrrrr says:

    How does the letter distribution of Snatch compare to the letter distribution of Scrabble Scoring Anagrams or the older Selchow & Righter non-scoring Anagrams?

    The distribution of the former (which you can find in the Wikipedia article on Anagrams) isn’t significantly different from the distribution of Scrabble – you can almost make a set of Scoring Anagrams from the contents of two Scrabble sets, if you can do without a couple H tiles.

    I can’t find the distribution of the older version, but I suppose there’s a chance y’all have it in your collection and can determine that.

    (Also, apropos your later post about Snatch, perhaps the problem is that Bob didn’t have enough familiarity with word games, since Snatch seems to be basically the same game as Anagrams. Anagrams even merited a mention in Stefan Fatsis’s book “Word Freak” so it’s not all that obscure.)

  2. The_Null_Entry says:

    Well, the total number of tiles in Snatch is lower then the total found in Scrabble, so it’s hard to simply say “Scrabble has 16 A’s vs Snatch’s 5 A’s”. Snatch is made up of 100 tiles, compared to the 180 tiles that make up Scrabble. Listed below is a count of each letter that makes up a Snatch set:

    A- 5 H- 5 O- 6 V- 2
    B- 2 I- 5 P- 3 W- 3
    C- 4 J- 1 Q- 1 X-1
    D- 4 K- 1 R- 5 Y- 3
    E- 12 L- 5 S- 5 Z- 1
    F- 4 M- 4 T- 7
    G- 2 N- 5 U- 4

    100 Tiles total.

    Really, I think the better way to compare the two is through percentages. Listing what percentage of the whole does each letter comprise in the set. The first number is the percentage for Snatch, the second number (in parenthesis) is the percentage for Scrabble.

    A- 5% (8.88%) H- 5% (3.33%) O- 6% (7.77%) V- 2% (1.11%)
    B- 2% (2.22%) I- 5% (7.77%) P- 3% (2.22%) W- 3% (1.11%)
    C- 4% (2.22%) J- 1% (1.11%) Q- 1% (1.11%) X- 1% (1.11%)
    D- 4% (4.44%) K- 1% (1.11%) R- 5% (6.66%) Y- 3% (2.22%)
    E- 12% (12.22%) L- 5% (4.44%) S- 5% (4.44%) Z- 1% (1.11%)
    F- 4% (2.22%) M- 4% (2.22%) T- 7% (5.55%)
    G- 2% (3.33%) N- 5% (5.55%) U- 4% (4.44%)

    The largest difference between the two sets is the percentage of vowels to consonants. Snatch is made up of 35% vowels, where as Scrabble is comprised of 43.3% vowels (this is counting ‘Y’ as a vowel).

    Interestingly enough, while researching to answer your question (consequently I failed to find a letter count for Snatch online and resorted to counting the letters by hand), I ran across the ‘History’ of Snatch. Apparently the letter distribution for this game was created using the research conducted by World War II code breakers. Neato, eh?

    I hope this helped to answer your questions! :-)

    History of Snatch:
    http://www.portobellogames.com/history.htm

    Wikipedia Anagrams entry:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anagrams

  3. parkrrrr says:

    Actually, Scrabble has 100 tiles too (98 if you don’t count the blanks); it’s Scrabble Scoring Anagrams – which is long out of print – that had 180. (It seems Hasbro is trying to get back into the Anagrams game with Scrabble Apple, which seems to have essentially the same rules as all of the other Anagrams variants but adds “double word score” tiles. A review on BoardGameGeek says that Scrabble Apple has the same letter distribution as Scrabble, but the same review gets some of the basic rules of Scrabble wrong so I’m not sure it can be believed.)

    But yeah, looking at those numbers, it’s pretty clear that Snatch has fewer of the excess vowels that plague Scrabble. I’ve always felt that Scrabble had too many Is and As. Interestingly, the distribution for Scrabble Scoring Anagrams that you’ve given above is already less vowel-heavy than the one in Scrabble; Snatch just went a little further along that path.

    Thanks for the letter distribution, and for going to the work to count the tiles. I note that the Wikipedia Anagrams page also lists Snatch at the top, so I’m sure they’d appreciate having your counts added to the article.

    My apologies for geeking out about this; I seem to have a word game addiction. I will, of course, now have to acquire a copy of Snatch. And Bananagrams, which despite the name isn’t just another Anagrams clone. And probably even Scrabble Apple.

  4. The_Null_Entry says:

    Nah, thanks for geeking out with us! I’ll have to take a look at Scrabble Apple, that one hadn’t pinged on my radar yet. :-)

  5. Peppers says:

    If your addicted to word games might I also recommend:

    UpWords (If you don’t have it already, it’s a more common one by Hasbro), Quiddler (by SET enterprises), and Letterflip (by Out Of The Box).

    There are others, but those seem (to me) to be some of the better ones in addition to Snatch.

  6. parkrrrr says:

    I have Upwords. I haven’t been impressed with it; at least Scrabble makes up for the inherent difficulty of playing an uncommon letter by making it worth more. As a result, my – admittedly limited – experience with Upwords was that the effect of random chance was cranked up a bit too high for my taste.

    I have half of a Letter Flip set, my consolation prize for losing in the Letter Flip competition at Origins ’07. The other half is in another state, at the home of a friend. Letter Flip is one of my favorite games to play on the phone. (Scrabble Duplicate – which is out of print – or a modified version of Scrabble with visible racks, is in second place.)

    Quiddler looks like an interesting rummy variant; I believe I will have to add that one to my collection.

    The word games that are currently at the top of my “to be purchased” list are WordSpot (which is somewhere between Boggle and Keesdrow – both of which I have – in terms of game play) and Word Pirates, which just looks interesting.

    Getting back on topic for the blog, I’m eagerly awaiting the opening of the store so I can hopefully take some of those games for a test drive (assuming they’re in the collection.)

  7. The_Null_Entry says:

    Thank you for the support! We really can’t wait for the store to open as well. While several of the word games you mentioned are not in the library, rest assured I am taking notes! Our word game selection is thin for my taste, so those would be an excellent way to pad it out. :-)

    Quiddler isn’t a bad game, but it certainly isn’t a ‘Gamer’s Game’ by my standards. It’s the easy going type of game I pull out when the mother-in-law comes over. You can have a conversation over it, we usually are very lax about helping each other when we are struggling, a minimal amount of effort is used when keeping score. It’s just not a competitive game, although given that you are a word game aficionado, you may very well enjoy it.

    Similarly, you might also really like ‘Unspeakable Words’, it’s a word game with a Cthulu flare.

  8. Pat says:

    I have a Scrabble Scoring Anagrams game which I received as a gift in the late 70’s. (I actually had two games, but foolishly gave one away.) However, it’s very hard to find someone to play with me. For some reason, my mind goes into overdrive with this game and very few have ever beat me. I love the speed of the game and the gymnastics my mind goes through. This game has a lot more tiles than any of the pretenders I’ve seen. I was happy to find this site!

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