Saturday, January 05, 2008

Shabbat Gaming

Puerto Rico

I'm glad that Nadine and Rachel and I got in at least one three-player PR game before Rachel returns to Canada on Monday. The three of us playing PR was our shabbat afternoon tradition for the last few years.

We played with half the buildings from my funky sets, something Nadine and I don't get to do when we play online, since no one has tried to program any of them yet.

For those who don't know, many of my alternate buildings for Puerto Rico are better than, and in any case a nice change of pace from, the original buildings.

We played one game, and quickly decided that Rachel was going to win by a decent margin. She had corn in the opening, and was already running ahead in shipping points, while still not neglecting a decent money infrastructure. I was going to have more building points, but not enough. And so it was, but closer than I imagined. Rachel won 59 to my 56 to Nadine's 54. Pretty close after all.


The next day we were invited to lunch, and as I arrived about a half hour before lunch was to begin, I had the opportunity to play a game with my hosts' 11 year old boy. I picked Rummikub off the shelf.

Rummikub is a game of luck, skill, and pushing your luck.

A good player will beat a beginning player most of the time. However, the mastery required to be a good Rummikub player is not very deep. Once you've got the basic pattern recognition down, the only thing you can do is wait around for the tiles you need to show up.

Other than this basic mastery of pattern recognition, the only other skill potential in the game is deciding when to play your pieces and when to hold them. Playing your pieces gets them out of your hand, but also gives your opponent the opportunity to get his own pieces out; unless you somehow block the pieces he was going to use.

On the other hand, holding the pieces introduces the risk of getting caught with playable pieces if your opponent suddenly goes out. In this way, it's kind of a push your luck game. Many people don't bother with this aspect of the game. Playing against someone who plays this way can be rather dull, so I also don't bother to do it most of the time.

I picked or played most rounds, not bothering to hold onto anything I could play. When I couldn't see anything to play at a glance, I just passed, without giving the board the extra minute of careful checking to ensure that I wasn't missing anything. Again: better to be am enjoyable opponent, than a boring one, especially against an 11 year old boy.

My opponent also played rather quickly, so the game ended up being both enjoyable and quick. And I won right when we were called to lunch.

Game News

The Big News of the day is that Hasbro is expanding its already vast monopoly by buying Cranium Industries.

Hasbro is also moving forward on the new Trivial Pursuit game show.

The Baltimore Sun on Maryland game groups.

As reported on Techdirt and other places, every major internet site on the planet is being sued over a ridiculous patent which supposedly covers online solitaire. Truly amazing.

Adam points to a nice article on the Geek on simple counting techniques to determine if someone has a bomb in Tichu.

1 comment:

David said...

Here's an interesting segment on the public radio show Marketplace about Dungeons & Dragon's 4th edition: