Scrumble – an Agile board game

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Agility is completely new to you? Skeptical about applying Scrum for your project? Feel like challenging your team? Get ready to Scrumble!

Developing Agile strengths and values through a fun simulation of Scrum
Scrumble allows to highlight many issues that team members often face, as being developers, product managers or facilitators and to provide solutions spontaneously, all in a casual setting.
This game and its printable content are free to download. Have fun!

Game duration: 2 hours or more.

Complete guide: http://scrumble.pyxis-tech.com/dl_en/Game%20manual.pdf

Objectives of the game and desired behaviour

As noted in the introduction, Scrumble is a fun way to learn and consolidate Scrum when participants are reluctant to take the step themselves, to learn by using guides, or to appropriate it.

The great strength of Scrumble lies in its role of revealing dysfunctions in the team in a context that is conducive to transparency and interaction, and safe for everyone.

The rules described in this guide are ideally modeled on Scrum and may seem complex at first. However, they are not. You will realize it very quickly after the first sprint. Also, all rounds will be different, based on the players’ creativity and the decisions they make. Together, they find new opportunities and sometimes problems where there are none! Of these challenges stem many lessons and Agile development:
• Team spirit: Everyone is actively involved in the game and is heard by others.
• Creativity: Without cheating, the game mechanics are exploited by all players.
• Self-organization: Initiatives are collective and spontaneous and adds rhythm to the game.
• Transparency: Everyone expresses oneself clearly and ideas are made understandable to all.
• Respect: Unnecessary tensions and disturbances are avoided and set aside of the game.
• Conflict resolution: Problems between players are resolved intelligently and smoothly.
• Ability to prioritize: The Product Owner targets the delivery of value, and the team contributes to it.
• Commitment: Everyone does their best to achieve a common objective.

Prerequisites and organization

Game components

Before beginning a Scrumble round, you need of course all the necessary materials and components. You will find them enclosed. They are ready to be printed and cut. Substitutes may be used instead of pawns and markers. For example, LEGO® bricks and characters are easy to integrate.

Here is what needs to be printed in color, cut, and glued:

• The board, pawns, and markers:
Print these items on Bristol board (or stronger paper) in a large size (minimum A3). The A2 format is perfect for a large number of players. Then, cut parts keeping the small edge (shaded area on pawns and markers). Fold symmetrically the pawns representing the players and the debt, then glue their center so they can stand vertically (to facilitate movement on the board).

• The cards:
Print on plain white paper or Bristol board in A4 format. By printing two-sided copies, the cards will have their cover in the back of their statement. If you want to save ink, you can print only the odd pages (you only have the statements on one side).

• The set of User Stories:
If you want to play a game of Scrumble within a set context for the product to develop, print all pages except the last one.
If you want to write your own User Stories, print only the last page. Then, together with the Product Owner, write all User Stories on the index cards obtained (one story per card).
The User Stories can be printed on coloured paper of A4 format for an optimal finish.
The following items are also required: a dice (have several nearby in case of loss), blocks of Post-it® notes, pencils with an eraser at the end (preferably).
Accessories such as a whiteboard and markers can be useful, but they are not essential.

Preparation and organization

You now have all the required items at hand. Also, you probably read the guide. Well done! Now you have to choose one or several teams to play with.

Regarding the organizational aspect, we recommend that you follow the following list for successful Scrumble rounds:
• Allow two hours for the game (that you will have previously planned with the team) and provide a pleasant setting. A room is essential to enjoy the game without being disturbed and without disturbing others.
• Limit the number of players (between 5 and 11 maximum), including the Product Owner and Scrum Master. Communicate at least the introduction of the game previous to the activity.
• Make sure you have a Scrum Master in the group. This person must know Scrum sufficiently to be able to act as game leader.
• Have all the elements of the game in hand.
• If the game is played within the context of a real project, you can write your own User Stories, as indicated in the previous section. In this case, you can use an existing Product Backlog to get down to the pre-sprint phase. If the Product Backlog does not exist yet, we invite you to conduct a Big Wall workshop to develop it.

About the game

Scrumble was created in 2014 in the whimsical spirit of Romain Trocherie, an Agile coach and Scrum Master at Pyxis Suisse. After all, if Scrum comes partly from a game, why not create a game on Scrum? That was the original idea.

Game design and experiments lasted for weeks, and Scrumble will continue to evolve based on your experiences. For any comments or suggestions, please contact Romain by email at rtrocherie@pyxis-tech.com.

Licence and user rights

The Scrumble game is completely free, playable by everyone, regardless of place and time.

However, we want to highlight that this required a substantial effort on the part of Pyxis Suisse’s team and the final goal of the game, which is the promotion of an ideal operation of teams based on the principles of Scrum, should not be altered.

As such, the game and its different media are provided under licence (Creative Commons–Attribution–NonCommercial–No Derivatives 4.0 International). Therefore, you can share it by quoting authors, without modification and without financial compensation.

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2 Responses to "Scrumble – an Agile board game"
  • Nik February 5, 2017 at 4:40 am

    Hi, I’m a scrum master looking for an interesting games in order to teach my new teams scrum. I saw your game and read all the materials I could download from your page, but still it looks like I’m missing something to fully understand the game play. Could you share some example of a simple team and their first sprint. I don’t get the whole dept calculation and even the players markers and all the pawns, I see only 4 player markers (green, red, blue and orange), but you say the players are up to 9? what are the different colors of the pawns representing? How is supposed someone to create and relate tasks to some story? I really don’t understand the dynamics and the game play, reading the manual, pease share some clarification.

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  • Romain Trocherie February 5, 2017 at 9:21 am

    Hi Nik,

    I’m glad receiving such questions as yours and hope to answer them the best I can.

    First off, the game is now maintained by Pyxis but to my regrets the latest version is not yet uploaded. There are better explanations of the game and new contents, which you can find it here if you’re interested:
    http://www.romain-trocherie.com/scrumble/

    As for example of playing teams, it needs to be kept simple, as in Scrum: one Product Owner, three to nine developers and one Scrum Master (the facilitator of the game ideally). The player section (page 7) explains their roles and what’s expected from them, as in a real Scrum team, during the game. I would add that the players interactions are really important in the game, and all players have to demonstrate good soft skills and equality for the best experience.

    Regardless, the size of the team, I suggest taking three medium-size stories (Sprint planning section, page 10). It’s well balanced to get a first sprint running for a good half-hour and see what goes right or wrong when many people are starting to develop a product altogether. :) Expect it to be longer than the next sprints and very fruitful in term of feedbacks!

    About the debt: it’s a counter. The bigger the team lets it grow, the harder the progression is. Each sprint, you can refer at page 10 where the table helps you calculate the number of tasks required, depending on that counter. More debt = more tasks! The team will have to maintain the debt low, somehow! It’s up to them to figure it out how.

    Each players marker is not related to a specific participant (page 11). They actually show the progress of the whole team, related to a story. Pick one color for each story into the sprint: both the colors of a players marker and the bricks (or puzzle pieces in the latest version) are related. Each turn, a player can move a players marker, it’s up to him/her. The same one can be moved over and over, or different ones… But once again, the players have to figure out what is the best strategy to reach their goal!

    Tasks are a measurement of progression towards the completion of a story. We do not create them (to much details, the game would then be soooo long!) but we derivate their number regarding the complexity (size) of a story and the current difficulty, which is… the debt! The table on page 10 gives you the formula.
    For example, for a S-sized story, an average debt (20-29 points), your team of 6 developers will have to complete 6 x 12 = 72 tasks to get it done, during the sprint.

    Those are long explanations but I hope they are clear enough. I would recommand to try playing on your own first, if you already print the elements. It sure helps!

    Don’t hesitate to contact me again if you have other questions. I wish you and your teams lots of fun playing Scrumble and am looking forward to hearing your feedbacks!

    Cheers!

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