5 games you need to know before you start Scrum – Tasty Estimation

So, you’ve decided to start with Scrum. You’ve read a decent number of books and articles and you are pretty convinced that it’s gonna work. You have made the presentation to the developers and they nod their heads that “Yes, it may work, but …” They are simply not convinced. Maybe it is because they cannot imagine it because they have no experience with agile methods.

There is an excellent tool to overcome this initial barrier – games. This mini-series will introduce 5 games and exercises, which might be useful for you, when you start with agile methods. I have tried most of them for my teams and they worked. You are welcome to comment on them or give any suggestions for improvements or alternatives.

The first game deals with the backlog items estimation and is called “Tasty estimation”.

Timing: 30-60 min. depending on the number of stories

Goal: to practice the relative estimation technique by comparing user stories


  • Backlog items written or printed on index cards
  • Items should describe activities, which are well known to the team members and can be quickly estimated. You can play the game either with the real backlog or you can use one of the tasty backlogs provided below.
  • About 5-7 index cards of a different color to mark columns.
  • You need a room with a table big enough to fit all team members and all cards


  • Put the cards on one deck and mix them
  • The first team member takes the card and puts it on an arbitrary place on a table
  • The next team member takes the next card. If it seems to him smaller that the first one, he puts it left to the first card. If it seems to him bigger that the first one, he puts it right to the first card. If it seems to him of roughly the same size, he puts it under the first card.
  • The next team member can
    • Take the next card from the deck and do the same decision as the previous team member.
    • Move and card lying on the table to a different column (with appropriate reasoning).
  • The other team members continue these steps until they run out of cards and all team members are satisfied with the placement of the cards
  • At the end of the game it is possible to assign labels for the columns, e.g. XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL or Fibonacci numbers.


  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of this estimation technique?
  • Do you know any other estimation techniques?
  • Is an estimation uncertainty taken into account?
  • What is your personal experience with estimation?
  • What happened to backlog items with insufficient amount of information?

Attached are two sample sets of typical meals – Tasty_estimation-international_meals containing international (mostly European) meals and Tasty_estimation-Czech_meals containing typical Czech meals. The size of each item is the complexity of the cooking process. The sets contain meals of various types: easy, difficult, well-known, ambiguous, with imcomplete information, the meals you have probably never heard of, etc. Just like a typical backlog.