Free Game: Ramble

It’s Saturday, and that means a new free game! Two weeks of posts now, mostly on time, and readership is picking up surprisingly quickly! All good news, and I’m glad to have you all here. So without further adieu; Ramble!

Word games are great. They’re good at making people think, but require something outside of the mathematical that generally dominates games. Despite that, Scrabble and Boggle are really the only well spread word games; most games are derivative from there. There’s others, like Hangman and Probe, which take off from those ideas, but they’re less well known. Ramble, however is a bit different.

To play Ramble, you’ll need two decks of normal playing cards, preferably with jokers. You’ll also need something to write on the cards with — Sharpies or Paint markers work well. It’s gotta be permanent, so you might want to buy new matching decks from the dollar store for this!

Ramble is a game about making words; the longer the word, the more points you get. You can take several turns to make a word, but be careful, because other players can steal it from you!

If you’ve never played before, you need two decks of playing cards, with the following letters written on their face:

Deck 1

# Spades Hearts Clubs Diamonds
2 t n n t
3 n t r n
4 f s t r
5 r f s m
6 h l f d
7 l h d f
8 y v l h
9 k y p v
10 q j z x
J o o e a
Q i a a i
K e e e e
A a u i a
Deck 2

# Spades Hearts Clubs Diamonds
2 s r s r
3 r s t s
4 t d n l
5 d n h t
6 b c g k
7 c b k g
8 w m b c
9 m g j w
10 p w v y
J u u i e
Q e e u o
K a i o u
A o o u i

Once you’ve got a Ramble deck ready, shuffle it; determine who goes first (I recommend cutting the deck and finding the Highest card, but whatever method you prefer works too), then deal out 7 cards to each player. Place the rest of the deck in the center of the table, and place discards next to it.

Turn Overview

  1. Turn starts
  2. Draw Four Cards
  3. Start a new word; or Discard your word and skip your turn
  4. Modify a word (Trim, Add, Rotate, or Swap); or Trade your hand
  5. Discard down to 10 cards if you have more
  6. Turn ends; player on your left now takes their turn

At the start of your turn, you draw 4 cards from the deck. If you ever need to draw from the deck and there are no cards in the deck to draw, shuffles the discards back in to the deck.

Starting a New Word
After you draw cards at the start of your turn, you may start a new word if you don’t have one. Each player may have one word at a time.

When you start a new word, you may play any number of letters out of your hand out in front of you. It doesn’t need to spell anything (though it helps if it isn’t gibberish), but they do need to be in a specific order; once you’ve placed them, you can’t move them around unless you’re modifying the word.

You cannot modify (or score) a word you just played.

Discarding your Word
If you already have a word, you may elect to discard it. Put all the letters in the discards, then skip the rest of your turn.

Modifying a Word
Assuming you did not discard your word, you may modify a word. This doesn’t have to be YOUR word, it cannot be a word you just started, and you can only modify one word. There are four ways to Modify a word: Trimming, Adding, Rotating and Swapping. You make make one modification each turn.

Trimming: You may discard one letter from anywhere in the word, or up to half the letters (rounded down) from either end of the word.

Adding: You may add one letter to anywhere in the word, or as many letters as you want to either the start or the end of the word.

Rotating: You may replace any number of letters in the word with letters of the same suit. For example, you can replace a spade with a spade.

Swapping: You may replace any number of letters in the word with the same letter of a different suit. For example, you can replace a ‘t’ of spades with a ‘t’ of hearts.

Scoring a Word
If you modified a word, you may try to score it. If the word is a legitimate English word, it can be scored; if you try to score a word and it turns out to not be a real word (misspelled, nonsense or what have you) then you lose points equal to what it would have been worth, to a minimum of zero.

  • If the word was YOUR word, you earn 2 points for every three consonants in the word, or 1 point for every two consonants in the word, whichever is worth more
  • If the word was another player’s word, you only ever earn 1 point for every two consonants
  • Color Bonus: If the word was all one color (black/red) it’s worth an additional point
  • Suit Bonus: If the word was all one suit (spades, hearts, clubs, or diamonds) it is worth an additional point
  • To track score, keep cards from the word as you score it — 1 for each point — from the start of the word first, then discard the rest.
  • You only score for whole groups of consonants; ie: a word with 5 consonants is only worth 2 points
  • For the context of the game, all cards with a face value of 2-10 is a consonant, including ‘y’s

If you do not wish to modify a word, you may instead trade. You cannot trade and modify on the same turn. You may elect to either Barter or Mulligan, but you cannot do both on the same turn.

Barter: You may offer to trade cards from your hand with any other player. You may make whatever offers or deals you like beyond just switching cards, so long as it is within the rules of the game. Other players have to agree to your offer, however — you cannot force your opponents to accept an offer.

Mulligan: You may elect to discard any number of cards from your hand, then draw that many cards from the deck.

When it is NOT your turn, you can still get in the way! When an opponent plays a card for any reason, you may try to ‘hit’ that card.

Hitting Cards: When an opponent plays a card for any reason (like starting a new word or adding to a word, or even when they try to hit another player!), you may stop them and play a card from your hand with a higher face value than the card played — assuming no one meddles any further, the lower value card is canceled and both cards are discarded.

Players may try to Hit any card played by an opponent, including hit cards, so the whole method can go back and forth several times.

Ending and Winning the Game
The game ends when someone earns 25 points or the deck has been shuffled 3 times. (Of course, if you want to play to higher point values or with more or less shuffles, you welcome to.) The player with the most points wins the game!

And THAT, is ramble! Enjoy!


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One Response to “Free Game: Ramble”

  1. Free Game: Lexi « The Art of Game Says:

    […] only is it another good game for a group, but it also takes advantage of the Ramble deck! Lexi is a game about mutating words and strategic decisions. Here’s how it […]

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