Game Review: Scavenge

Last year, our family went camping. If you ask my kids what they remember most, they won’t tell you about all the hiking we did. They won’t tell you about us going off-trail and walking across logs or through streams. They won’t tell you about all the waterfalls they saw. They will tell you about how the raccoons got in to our cooler, and got our food. That’s what they remember and talk about most. So, when I showed them Scavenge, and told them it’s a game about raccoons digging through trash, I didn’t even finish telling them about the game, before I was cut off with, “LIKE THE RACCOONS THAT GOT OUR FOOD WHEN WE WENT CAMPING!!”

Yes. Like the raccoons that got our food when we went camping.


Designer: Daniel Chou
Publisher: CHOU! Games
Players: 2-5

We review a lot of different kinds of games here at Gaming With Sidekicks. One question I like to keep in mind is this: does the game do what it intends to do? This might seem like a simple question, but I’ll come back to it. Just keep that in mind while we’re taking a look at this game today.

An example of what gameplay may look like.

Scavenge is intended to be played with kids. It’s a pretty straight forward push-your-luck game. Each player takes on the role of a raccoon and starts digging through trash on the Porch, in the Driveway, or Backyard. You can choose to stop digging through trash at any time. There are Spotlight cards that immediately end your turn, but let you hang on to any potential garbage you’ve gained. There’s also Noise cards that cause you to lose any potential garbage you’ve gained this turn.

At the end of the turn, you’ll take any potential garbage you’ve gained and put it in to your hand. Keep in mind, the cards in your hand are not safe! To save the garbage you’ve collected, you need to place it in your Stash. At the start of your turn, you must choose to either stash your garbage, or search for garbage. So if you’ve got quite a collection of premium garbage in your hand, it might be wise to stash it before someone draws a card that could make all players lose garbage from their hand.

Each of the garbage cards are worth a certain number of points. The player with the most points at the end wins. However, there are 3 cheeseburger cards, 1 in each trash can. If a player collects all 3 cheeseburgers, the game immediately ends, and all players see who has the most points.

There’s no real instances of “take that” in Scavenge. While there is a place for teaching kids to play competitively and what smart competition looks like, not every game needs to showcase that. Scavenge is a great example of a light family game that’s quick to set up, and quick to play. It’s perfect for travel as there are no components other than the cards.

When I played this with my children, my daughter (7) thought it was hilarious when she realized the names of the cards did NOT match what the items actually were. The “coffee mug” is just a dented aluminum can. The “mirror” is a dirty spatula. Her absolute favorite was the “dress”, which was just a ripped plastic bag with the raccoon’s arms through the handles.

If you want to look at the broader sense of what Scavenge does, it can be used as a gateway to teach young players about push-your-luck mechanics. Also, the fact that you have a hand of cards and a stash of cards can be abstract to young gamers. Scavenge handles it very simply. This idea can pave the way for teaching other games with deckbuilding mechanics, teaching kids that, “Yes, this is your hand of cards, but these are also your cards over here that aren’t a part of your hand.”

Does Scavenge accomplish what it sets out to do? I think so. It’s a family game with a fun theme that can get kids to laugh. It’s very easy to teach. If you don’t have kids, or your gaming only ever takes place at home, then this one might not appeal to you as much. There’s a certain luxury to having small game with you while you’re with kids. Whether you’re waiting at the BMV, stuck in an airport, need a quick game to play at home before dinner is ready, or camping with real raccoons, Scavenge is a great, quick, fun family game.

Scavenge is coming soon to Kickstarter!

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