review by David

“Come one, Come all, Welcome to the circus!” You are now the new ringmasters of the circus and will have to put on the best shows possible to get paid!

Scout is a hand-management, rummy-style game from Oink Games for 2-5 players with the goal of out-doing one another with spectacular shows of performers and scouting away promising talents from other shows to put on memorable performances in future turns.

In Scout, every player will be dealt a hand of cards with 2 numbers on them. Cards in a player's hand cannot be rearranged in any way, except at the beginning of a round when you decide to either keep your current hand as is or rotate the whole hand 180 degrees to be the other set of numbers. Once all players have decided which orientation to keep their hand in, play begins with the player with the 1st turn marker.

On a player’s turn, they may take 1 of three actions.

-Show: Play a combo of adjacent cards that are either a Set (all matching numbers) or Run (all ascending or descending in consecutive order, such as 1,2,3,4 or 4,3,2,1) into the center of the play area. A player may take the Show action as long as their combo being played is stronger than the current combo following these rules below. If you Show a stronger combo, you collect the cards of the defeated combo face-down in front of you as points for the end of the round.

  1. Numbers of Cards: If the combo played has more cards than the current combo.

  2. Combo Type: If a Set is played with matching numbers of cards of a Run.

  3. Higher Number: If the highest number in the combo is higher than the highest number in the current combo.

-Scout: Take a card from either end of the current combo and add it into your hand in any position and orientation. The player’s combo that you took a card from will receive a one dollar token to use for points at the end of the round.

-Scout & Show: Once per round, you can flip over your Scout & Show token to perform a Scout action and then a Show action.

The round ends once either a player plays all the cards from their hand or if a combo is Scouted all the way back to the original combo’s player. Players earn points based on their collected face-down cards from combos that have been beaten and any dollar tokens they collected, then losing points for any remaining cards left over in their hand. The next round begins with the 1st player marker moving to the next player and after a number of rounds equal to the current players, the player with the most points wins and is crowned the greatest ringmaster.

Scout is the type of game that starts off tricky to explain with its double numbered cards and no rearranging allowed during play, but once a full round has been played, the game always clicks beautifully with players that I introduce the game to. The simple rummy-style gameplay leads to many rewarding plays for the calculating players who position their cards carefully, but can be just as punishing if you plan for too long and end up keeping a full hand of cards while others are rushing to end the current round quickly. Ideally, the game is best with 3-5 players, but the 2-player variant from the BoardGameGeek community makes the game function great at 2.

Scout is available now from our webstore. Scout box cover image courtesy of Oink Games.