This game is very simple. One player makes a code using the coloured pegs provided and then hides it whilst the other player looks away/puts their face in a cushion. The second player then has to use the remaining coloured pegs to try and guess the code. The first player indicates when they are right or wrong using white and red pegs. The second player has to crack the code before they run out of lines. We already wrote a full review post of this game here if you want to read more about it.
Definitely! This game is a fun quickie for two players, and fantastic for keeping the most rambunctious children occupied for a little while if you’re a family that been blessed with children with boundless energy! Although a two player game doesn’t sound the best for Christmas, when there’s usually vastly more than two people around it’s actually fantastic. Both for smaller families and big ones. It’s easy to make a Mastermind tournament if you have lots of interested people or, if there’s only a few of you it’s ideal for having a few quiet moments. It’ll also keep Aunt Jean happy – she’s not strong with tactical games, but if only two people are playing it at least there should be someone left to hear about her newest animal acquisition!
Happy Twelfth Day of Christmas! This brings us to the end of the Christmas period, and the end of this series of posts – at least until next year!
Connect 4, and proceeded to bore me, explaining how if he started first he could always win…
Connect 4is a simple tactical game; two players take it in turns to drop their coloured counters down columns on an empty grid in an attempt to make a line of four of their colour, either vertically, horizontally or diagonally, whilst preventing their opponent from making one first. The first player to make a line immediately wins. If both players run out of counters and no one has a line the game is a draw.
I think it’s a good quick game for when you need five minutes to chill away from the masses, or for when you need your kids to stop running around for a few minutes so that you can get food out of the oven without falling over them. You could also get Aunt Jean to play it, which would keep her out of the way for a few minutes when you’re busy, because she’s really not as helpful in the kitchen as she thinks she is!
Happy Ninth Day of Christmas everyone! If you haven’t played any games yet, you’re not doing Christmas right!
Go back to whichever hole you jumped out of and leave us alone!
What do you call a happy rabbit? A hop-timist! (Not the place for bad rabbit jokes? Okay…)
Lotti Karotti(the German name for the game, the English is Funny Bunny) is a simple and fun game in which you race against the other players’ rabbits, and hop that little bit faster than everyone else!
What’s In The Box:
Three-dimensional playing board
Deck of action cards
4 x 4 coloured rabbits
Playing The Game:
Objective: To get one of your rabbits to the big carrot faster than anyone else.
To begin the game the deck of action cards should be shuffled and placed face-down at the side of the board and the carrot should be twisted until there are no holes showing in the board. Next each player should choose a colour of rabbit to be from the four available. As it doesn’t say in the rules who plays first we just did Rock, Paper, Scissors for it. Once a first player has been determined they draw the first card from the deck and turn it face up on the table. They then perform the action on the card which will be either, hop 1, 2 or 3 spaces, or twist the carrot.
Normally players will place a rabbit onto the first, second or third spot on the board on their first turn. This normally creates a que of rabbits, like this:
If this happens and the player in the middle or the back turns over a card that tells them to hop they are allowed to jump over any number of rabbits that are adjacent to them to get to the next empty space. Like this:
When the carrot is turned it causes holes to open up at different points on the board. If one of your rabbits is on a hole when it is opened by another player (or yourself) it falls underneath the board and is immediately out of the game. Likewise if a hole is opened next to where one of your rabbits is and you turn up a card saying to hop one space you also have to hop into the hole, you cannot hop over it.
Winning The Game:
The first player to get a rabbit to the top of the carrot is the winner.
It’s not really possible to have a strategy for this game. This time round that we played it all my rabbits ended up in underneath the board and there was absolutely nothing I could have done about it. I would say just try and get your first rabbit as far along the board as possible. But otherwise don’t think it through too much, because it’s a game of chance with the cards really.
History and Interesting Things:
Between 2001 – 2002 this game was recommended for two awards and won 1.
I have absolutely nothing else interesting to write here.
As kids games go this is pretty great. It doesn’t involve any complicated thinking but also, because of the nature of the ‘carrot’ cards, doesn’t get boring either. It’s a good quick play for children of all ages with a cute theme.
Sphinx is a simple game for kids which incorporates the popular mythological creature. The Sphinx is a widely recognize creature; a lion with the head of a man. The most famous Sphinx in the world is the Great Sphinx of Giza in Egypt, which stands near the Great Pyramids of Giza on the west bank of the Nile. In popular mythology the Sphinx is a wise being which often demands the answer to a riddle. when this answer is given incorrectly the Sphinx eats the unfortunate person who couldn’t answer. However, the mini Sphinxes in this game are much less vicious.
What’s In The Box:
3 6-sided dice, one with a double snake image on one side
6 Sphinxes with different coloured bases
4 player tokens
6 coloured Sphinx cards
1 Rule book (not in the picture as someone was reading it at the time)
Playing the Game:
Objective: To collect the right coloured Sphinx cards and present them before the Sphinxes to collect the treasure.
Okay, that’s not a hugely clear way of writing the objective, but that’s why we write the rest of the post!
To begin the game each player chooses a token and places it on the square on the board with an arrow on it. The six Sphinxes are then randomly placed on each of the six squares with a Sphinx image on it. If you’re playing with less than four players you should remove the appropriate number of Sphinx cards from the stack by the side of the board so that there is one for each player. In this game the youngest player starts, and play then continues clockwise round the board.
To begin your turn you roll all three dice. In this game you do not total the number shown on the dice, instead you take each die as an independent section of your turn, in whichever order you choose. If you pass another player you can take a Sphinx card that you need from them. However you cannot take a card that you already have, if a player has Sphinx cards, but you already have all of them, they have to return one to the stack and recollect it.
An interesting thing about this game is the flexibility with which you can take each turn, when you move forward with the number on one die, you can then move backwards using the number on the next die.
Note:you cannot move forward an backward on the same number. For example I couldn’t split a five on one die into two three squares forward, one square back, I would have to move either five squares forward or backwards.
Okay, take this picture as an example of how I might take my turn. Say I’m green and I’ve just rolled a 2, 3 and 5. I could then proceed as follows: I could go forward two squares and collect the beige Sphinx card (to collect a card you can either land on, or pass over the correct square), I could then proceed a further five squares along in the same direction as I was previously going. This would pass me over a mummy hand, doing this means that I can look at the base of any one of the six Sphinxes on the board to know which colour it is. In addition to that, I also have to spin the section of board that I’ve landed on. It’s not clear in this picture, but some of the sections of wall in the maze are small 2×2 square turntables. If a player ends one of their moves on one of theses, they have to rotate it 180 degrees; if another player is on the next square, or the other side of the same wall section, they are also rotated. Lastly I have a 3 to use up, I can then go in whichever direction I choose, three either direction takes me to another turntable.
Oaky, so that’s how you would play a turn. Lastly, there’s a double-snake symbol on one of the sides of one of the dice. When this is rolled the player who rolls it has to swap one of the Sphinx from the center of the board with one of those situated down the right-hand side. When doing this they are not allowed to look at the base of either of the Sphinxes; that can only be done when a player passes over, or lands on a mummy hand.
Winning The Game!
To win the game a player must correctly discover (or guess) the colours and order of the three Sphinxes in the center of the board and proceed to the first Sphinx and present the correctly coloured Sphinx cards.
The optimistic player must then announce to all other players which Sphinx they think has each colour. They then look, without showing any other player what the colours are and announce whether they are right or wrong. If they are right they then show the Sphinx bases to all the other players. If they are wrong they remove their playing piece from the board, and stay quiet whilst everyone else keeps playing. The first player to get to the middle with the right Sphinx cards in the right order wins.
This is a pretty simple game, aimed at kids aged 8+. The only thing I really want to say in terms of strategy is that if you roll a double snake, the best thing to do on that turn is to try and pass over a mummy hand with your other two numbers, before swapping any of the Sphinxes. If you do this then you can look at one of the Sphinxes from the edge of the board, and then move that one into a space in the middle. When you do this you’re actually making it easier for you to win the game as you’ve played a Sphinx that you already know the colour of. Don’t forget that you have to collect Sphinx cards though, I generally try and pass over as many Sphinx cards as possible on my way around the board, as I can then proceed very quickly to the treasure in the middle once I’ve worked out the colours of the Sphinxes.
History and Interesting Things:
The word Sphinx was derived from the Greek word spingein, meaning to bind or squeeze, by Greek grammarians . However, the etymology of the word is unrelated to the legends that surround the creature, and therefore dubious.
The earliest Greek author to mention the creature was Hesiod, and he called it Phix.
The most famous Sphinx legend features the Winged Sphinx of Boeotian Thebes. This Sphinx was said to have terrorized people by demanding the answer to the following riddle, “What has one voice, but becomes four-footed, two-footed and three-footed?” and devouring anyone who answered incorrectly. Upon being given the correct answer: a man who crawls on four legs as an infant, walks on two when grown and leans on a staff in old age, she kills herself. Talk about a drama queen.
It is from this legend that the belief that Sphinxes are omniscient apparently arose.
The Great Sphinx of Giza is known by the Arabs as “Father of Terror”.
Although most images of the Sphinx don’t have enough information with them for their function or symbolism to be known it is generally believed that the Sphinx served a protective function.
Sphinxes were commonly carved with the heads of pharaohs on them.
Okay, I know this is only seven points, but there’s actually so much that can be read about Sphinxes in different parts of the world, in legend and in artistic representation and interpretation that I can’t go through more of it without my brain turning into jelly!
This game is great. It’s complicated enough to be a challenge; the three-section turn means you have to think a little more tactically that if you simply moved the entire dice roll in one go. But simple enough that you can’t really get into any arguments about the rules or anything like that. It’s also a good memory game for children as in discovering the pattern of colours of the central Sphinxes they have to remember which Sphinx had which colour, and they have to be aware when Sphinxes are moved. This is challenging for children (and some adults) and encourages the development of focus, concentration and the short-term memory.
I rated this five because, in addition to the well-structured nature of the game, the box is also great. Every piece has a place and it’s tidy and efficient.
Schwarzer Peter is the German version of Old Maid. As I was unable to find accurate dates for Schwarzer Peter, I have here included the details for Old Maid instead.
What’s In The Box:
One deck of cards!
Playing The Game:
Objective: To have the most pairs at the end of the game, and not be holding the black cat card.
To begin the game the deck is thoroughly shuffled and the entire deck is dealt out to the players. Players then find all pairs that they have in their hand and place them on the table like this:
Once every player has finished laying down their pairs they take it in turns to take one card at random from one other player. When playing with two this means you will always (unless you draw the Black Peter card) manage to make a pair.
Winning The Game!
Once all the pairs have been made the player left with the Black Peter card is the loser, and the player with the most pairs is the winner. In the event that the player with the most pairs is also holding the Black Peter card, the player with the next highest number of pairs is announced the winner.
There’s little to be said for strategy in this game. It’s generally chance as to whether or not you will be dealt the Black Peter at the beginning or will draw it from another player. When playing with two players you both know from the beginning which of you has the Black Peter, but this doesn’t actually make much difference, in that the second player can still accidentally draw it on their turn. You just have to hope to get lucky.
History and Interesting Things:
Although there are many different published decks of cards with nice illustrations on them for playing this game it can also easily be played with a regular deck of cards.
The name Schwarzer Peter is thought to be reminiscent of a comrade of Schinderhannes, the robber Johann Peter Petri, who was also known as Black Peter. It’s thought that the game originated in his prison years, from 1811 onward, however, the true origin is probably older.
Old Maidis a Victorian card game, for 2+ players, believed to have been derived from a drinking game, in which the loser buys the next round/pays for the drinks.
It is known by many different names; Schwarzer Peter in Germany, Svarte Petter in Sweden, Svarteper in Norway, Sorteper in Denmark, Fekete Péter in Hungary, Musta Pekka in Finland, Asino in Italy, Le Pouilleux in France and Babnuki in Japan.
There is an English variation of the game, known as Scabby Queen which is played with a standard 52-card deck in which the loser has an additional punishment, on top of losing the game. When played with a standard deck of cards the odd card is usually a queen and the punishment inflicted in this game is this:
When the loser (the player with the single remaining queen) is found, the deck of cards, including the remaining queen but not the jokers, is shuffled and the loser cuts the deck. The card on the bottom of the pile they picked up then decides their “punishment”. If a red card (heart or diamond) is chosen, then the player is rapped on the back of the hand with the deck. If a black card (spades or clubs) is chosen, then he has the entire deck scraped across his knuckles (known as snipes. A skilled player can draw blood with the opening ‘snipe’). The number of times this is performed is decided by the value of the card. Cards 2-10 carry face value, jacks and kings have a value of 10, aces are 11 and queens are 21. Be aware that this can rip the skin of your hands, and can be extremely painful, hence the name Scabby Queen. It is also better to use old or cheap cards, as the cards can also be damaged (cheap and older cards also tend to be softer and more bendable, so the “punishment” is less severe). However, today the game is often played without this punishment, especially where the pain inflicted is not considered appropriate by the players (such as when parents are playing with their children), though the game is still called scabby queen. As with all playground games, the rules are often lost in translation and regional variations are common (school-specific rule-sets are not unusual). Courtesy of Wikipedia.
Please note that this variation of the game is rarely played now.
It’s a good game for families, it teaches kids to identify matching pairs, as well as providing a learning opportunity if you’re using an animal deck. You can get the children to identify different types of animal in their masculine and feminine forms (if they have them) and also what the babies are called. On top of that the game is very straightforward, so it’s hard to get confused when playing it. I rated this 5 because there’s nothing I would change about it.
The simplest and yet often the most frustrating of games!
Connect 4is a popular game played most often by children of primary school age (7-11). It has a very simple your-turn-my-turn game play and can be quite frustrating if your opponent keeps winning.
What’s In The Box:
1 Fold-out game grid
21 yellow and red counters
Playing The Game:
Objective: To create a line of four of your counters either horizontally, vertically or diagonally, before your opponent.
This game is incredibly simple in its original form. The yellow player takes the first turn, and places one of their counters into the top of any column on the grid, this then falls to the bottom, taking a position on the lowest line on the grid. The red player then follows suit.
The game continues in this manner, with players each dropping counters into whichever column they like, until either one player has succeeded in creating a line of four, or both players have run out of counters.
Winning The Game!
Winning the game is simple, and would look like this:
This game is one of a group of games that can always be won by the first player, provided they play correctly. Strategically the best starting position for the first player is the central column, as from there they can choose to play on either side of grid whilst knowing that they’ll be connected to their other counters. I generally play to block off my opponent at every turn, whilst simultaneously trying to create a position in which I can create two lines of four, meaning that my opponent, at that point, cannot stop me from winning.
History and Interesting Things:
The game was first sold under this name by Milton Bradley in February of 1974, but is also known by these names: Captain’s Mistress, Four Up, Plot Four, Find Four, Four in a Row, Four in a Line and Gravitaps (Soviet Union)
The game is a Solvedgame, meaning that its outcome can be correctly predicted from any position, assuming that both player play perfectly.
The game has been mathematically solved by several different people, the first of whom was James Dow Allen on October 1st, 1988.
There are several different variations of the game; Pop Out, Pop 10, 5-in-a-Row and Power Up. They can be read about in more detail here.
Hasbroproduces various sized outdoor versions of the game, the largest of which is built from weather-resistant wood, and measures 120cm in width and height.
A rumor that the game was created by David Bowie was started by NME broadcaster and reporter Stuart Maconie which then became an urban myth.
Another version of the game, Connect 4 Twist & Turn was published by Winning Movesin 2015. This version features a game tower instead of a grid, with five rings that twist independently. The objective, to create a row of four of your colour disc, is the same, however as a player can choose to twist a ring after they’ve played a disc a new level of strategy is added to the game.
Look at that! I managed to find quite a few interesting things about this game!
This game is great, as a child I loved it (and am still good at it). I rated it 4.5 instead of 5 because of the problem where the first player can always win. Although there’s not much that can be done about it in the original form of the game it doesn’t still make the game technically unfair. Aside from that though, I have nothing to complain about, the game is great for kids as it makes them think a little tactically, plus, it’s simple enough that it can be learnt in a few minutes. I’d say that this a game to have in the house if you’ve got children, especially as it’s easy to tidy up due to not having lots of tiny pieces.
You’re going slower than the speed of a snail, could you hurry up!?
My parents and siblings all use this phrase when one of us is doing something stupidly slowly and they’re running out of patience. Fortunately for us the snails in this game are much speedier; like this racing snail:
What’s In The Box:
6 Coloured Snails
2 6-Sided Dice
Rules printed on the back of the box (technically not in the box, but still important)
Playing The Game:
Objective: To guess correctly which two snails will win and lose the race!
In this game it doesn’t matter how many people are playing, all six snails are still used. To begin the game line up the snails on their respective colours. Then each player has to place a bet on which snail they think will come first, and which will come last in the race. Players then take it in turns to roll the two dice, whichever colour is rolled, that snail is moved forward one space on the racetrack and if both dice show the same colour then that snail is moved forward two spaces. Every player does this until all the snails have crossed the finish line. The winner is then the person who guessed most accurately which snails would win and lose.
The game begins like this: say I bet that the Orange Snail will win, and the Blue Snail will lose and my opponent bets that the Blue Snail will win, and the Yellow Snail will lose, we then roll the dice and move the snails like this:
So far the Pink Snail is in the lead and both Blue and Orange Snails are having a nap or something. But due to the erratic and unpredictable way in which each snail is allowed to move the game can also change reasonably quickly, like this:
Okay, so Orange Snail hasn’t won here, but he’s caught up pretty well after a slow start! At this point Pink Snail has won, and as no one bet on her we have to see which snail loses the race to know if anyone’s managed to win the game.
Because Orange Snail is the last to cross the line you could argue one of two things:
That I lose because the Snail I bet on to be first actually lost the race, or,
That no one won the race because neither of us guess winner or loser correctly.
I’m going with option number 2 on this one.
This is a guessing game, so I really can’t write anything about strategy except that you’ve probably got as much chance of winning the game as any of the other players.
History and Interesting Things:
This game is excellent for teaching colour recognition in children, as they have to identify each snail by its colour to be able to play the game.
It promotes sharing and because technically the snail wins the race, and not the player, it’s a good game for children who have issues with not coming first.
The game was originally published in German – hence my dual-language title for the post (also as the version of the game I’m playing is German).
That’s about all I can get for this section, so we’ll proceed now to the conclusion!
I like this game a lot, I think it’s great for children, particularly those that are very young and can’t grasp a game with lots of rules. I’ve rated it only at a three for a few reasons. The first of which is the box. All the pieces are just loose in the box. We’ve said this on a lot of posts, but it’s still true, there are very few things more satisfying than a board game with a well-designed box. For a game with this few pieces it wouldn’t have been difficult to make a plastic insert that could hold the snails and dice, would it? As it is, everything rattles around inside the box, and whilst the snails are wooden, and so quite durable, they also get scratched, and bash up the dice if the game is moved around a lot. My second reason for not rating it higher is that it’s a betting game, and although you don’t bet anything on the snails, there are some children that would insist that they get given something by the other players if their snail wins, and I could foresee this becoming an argument-starter.
That said, it’s a good, simple game that can be played in five-ten minutes. The time each player needs to take their turn is maybe 10 seconds, so the pace of the game is also good as it doesn’t allow time for the children to get bored. All in all, I would recommend it!
In this classic variation of Pairs, the simple memory game Teddy Memoryis a cute and child-appealing version of the game, with adorable teddy cards.
What’s In The Box?
24 Teddy cards (12 pairs)
Playing The Game:
Objective: To have the best memory and so collect the most pairs before the end of the game.
In normal Pairs there is only one way to play the game: you shuffle the cards and lay them all out face-down on the table. You then take it in turns to flip over two cards. If they match you can keep them and take another turn. If they don’t match you have to turn them over again and it is the next players turn. In Teddy Memory Ravensburger have suggested two additional ways to play this game, which are both interesting.
The first is this: Reaction Memory
I’m going to write here exactly what they wrote in the rulebook. “Shuffle all of the cards and place them face down in the same direction. The first player turns over one of the cards and leaves it face up. The next player then does the same, and the game continues in this manner until two matching cards are revealed. Then it’s up to the players to react – the first one to call out what the picture on these cards is takes them as his or her own. The game then carries on as before. The game is over when only two cards are left on the table. The player with the highest number of pairs is the winner.”
The second variation is: Describing Pictures “The Memory cards are shuffled well and placed face up on the table. One player chooses a card, describes it and then passes it on to the next player. The second player chooses the matching card from the table and keeps the pair. This player then chooses a new card and describes it before passing it on to the next player. The game is over when all the cards have been collected. There is no winner in this game.”
These are all simple and I don’t think they really need any extra explanation, so I’m going to go straight to the next part of the post.
Well, this is a game for children aged 2 and a half – 5 so there’s not much in the way of strategy. For the classic version of the game the best way to play is really to concentrate on what other people are turning over. I find that to collect a lot of pairs you should first turn over a card that you haven’t seen the other side of, and then try and remember if its pair has already been turned over somewhere. If it has, pick that one out, and if it hasn’t, turn over another random one to see if you can get lucky.
That’s basically it. Concentrate hard and you might be able to win. But also maybe not, that’s the beauty of simple games.
History and Other Interesting Things:
To be totally honest, this game is really old but it’s almost impossible to date it or to know anything interesting about it except that there’s hundreds of variations of it, with Bears, Disney Princesses, Barbie, Happy Families, Farm Animals… The list goes on.
Further Reading and Other Editions of the Game:
This is possibly the easiest game to find variations of ever. Online there are regular memory games, number memory games, letter memory games… Some more challenging and obviously educational than others, but fundamentally all the same.
This game is great for kids, and for adults. It’s so simple that the rules have no ambiguity to them, and you can even make your own version of this game at home using paper and pens if you don’t have a properly published version. It’s also quick and straightforward, so although it’s always possible to get frustrated at a game I believe that this one generally remains fun and light-hearted. If you’ve got kids and you haven’t played this game with them you should get a copy, especially as it really helps them focus, therefore improving their concentration and memory skills from an early age.
While this months theme is “Old (usually) Wooden Games” OSKA doesn’t exactly fit that theme. It really all comes down to your idea of old, if you’re ten years old and 1995 seems like “FOREVER AGO” and “BEFORE I WAS EVEN BORN!” then OSKA is old, but if this is not the case then there’s every chance you remember 1995 and so it doesn’t seem that old. It does have an earlier history than its publication but that still only dates back to the 1950s, which some of you also may possibly be able to remember. See the history section for more information.
What’s in the Box:
In a normal OSKA box you find:
One wooden board
Eight pieces. Four red and four blue.
And it should have an instruction booklet to remove any ambiguity about the brief instructions on the back of the box, (see section “Playing the Game) but there isn’t one.
However our copy came from a charity shop (one of the best places to buy games if you were unaware of this). So in the box there was just the board with no pieces! So we borrowed four white and four brown pieces from a game of Draughts!
Playing the Game:
Normally here I would give a brief outline of the rules but as the rules to OSKA are already brief I have copied exactly what it says on the back of the box:
“OSKA is a speedy game for 2 players which is deceptively simple, using the Draughts (checkers) principle of diagonal movement and capture. BUT – keep well in mind the quirk that gives OSKA its bite. The winner is the player whose remaining pieces first reach the far side – the less pieces you have left, the easier this will be. The skill lies in when, or if, to capture, and when to force your opponent to capture you.”
The big problem with this set of rules is that there are more than one set of rules to Draughts. For example in English Draughts you can only take diagonally forwards (unless you are using a king) but inInternational Draughts it allows you to take diagonally backward. I have assumed that it meant the English Draughts; firstly because it initially refers to it as Draughts rather than Checkers and secondly, because OSKA was invented in England.
So let’s just clarify the rules:
You set up your four pieces on the back row like this:
We played white moves first but you could play either way, and if you’re playing with red and blue pieces you could play whoever is set up on the white section moves first.
You move one pieces diagonally, the the other player does the same.
You take a piece by jumping it, so this can only be done forwards and so long as the space the other side of it is empty. You do not HAVE to take as the rules state “when, or if, to capture”.
The winner is the first one to have ALL of their REMAINING pieces to the other side, so if all of their pieces are taken except one and they get that one to the other side before the other player gets all four of their pieces across, they win.
Rules We Assumed:
We rationally assumed that in the scenario that all your pieces are taken you’ve lost.
We also assumed that if you both ended up with the same number of pieces in the end zone at the same time it was a draw. This CAN occur if one player while moving its last (or only piece) into the end zone takes the other players only piece that’s not in the end zone. However this is unlikely to occur, as in that scenario you can choose to move into the end zone without taking.
We also assumed that if a similar scenario occurred and one person had more pieces than the other in the end zone they won.
A Little Help:
Just to help we filmed a video of the game play of OSKA to help clarify. Here it is! Our very first video blog… Sort of. Our real video blogs will happen when we get a much better camera but it’s a start!
Now while the game is simple (once you’ve clarified the rules) and fast, there’s a lot that could be said about the strategy. For starters you cannot afford to make mistakes, I know this can be said for almost all games but one mistake in OSKA and the other person most often enters a state where they can’t be beaten because all series of moves that follow result in their victory!
The key to the game, I believe, lies in forcing the other person to take you. You can create a series of plays where they have no option but to take you because they have no other available moves. And once you start to lose pieces you have an easier job than they do as you have less pieces to get across the board.
I could go on about strategy and start drawing diagrams and things of this nature (as that how “into” this game I have got, a game that less than a month ago I was unaware existed). But I will spare you all, however, in the future I may write a specific post on the dynamics and maths of the game, which everyone can feel free not to read.
History and Interesting Facts:
Unfortunately due to the obscurity of this game the history and fasts that are about to follow are mostly off the back of the box as there’s not much more information on the game out there. Which is a shame as it’s a good game.
The game was originally devised by Bryn Jones in the 1950s.
Bryn Jones was a miner so the game was originally played scratched into the dust on the floor of a mine at Lancashire Coalfields to pass time at breaks.
Woodward Creations annotated the rules and refined it into the more presentable format you find it in now.
It can now be found as part of The Inventors Collection which is a gathering of games and puzzles from the worlds top game inventors.
The game is made of eco-friendly wood.
It can be considered as part of the Draughts family of games.
Not really a surprise if you’ve read the post above, but the rules are ambiguous which unfortunately takes away from a very good and very fast game.
This may come as little surprise to you (if you have read the above), I like this game! I’m a huge fan of Chess (as most sane people are) and similarly simplistic but complex at the same time strategy games make me happy. However as far as I’m aware there is no game as perfect as Chess and probably never will be. But OSKA falls into the category of games that are in the right ball park when it comes to your basic strategy game. I would even proclaim that it has a one up on Draughts as I maintain Draughts is too large and long a game to have such simplicity, in short it can become boring, which is why to every 100 Chess matches I have played I’ve probably only played half a Draughts game. This is where OSKA hits the nail on the head, its taken the same idea as Draughts and made it small, fast and above all FUN!
The biggest flaw I find with this game is the ambiguity of the rules and their phrasing. I am slightly ashamed to admit that we played the game wrong in two different ways before finally re-re-re-reading the paragraph on the back of the box and breaking it down to create clarity. First time round we missed the word “remainder” so we where playing first one to get one piece across…This version of the game is ridiculously flawed because the person who moves first (providing they’re not an idiot) will ALWAYS win! We also played that you HAVE to capture if you can capture and even after we started paying attention to the “remaining pieces” section of the rules we still failed to notice the “when, or if, to capture” phrase that implies you do not HAVE to capture. Anyway once we had figured it all out this game is a 4 out of 5 however the amount of time we wasted playing it wrong reduces it to a 3 out 5 (hence the top scoring). It could be argued that us playing it wrong is our own fault but I maintain the rules are needlessly ambiguous and if you don’t know what Draughts is they’re impossible to follow!
Additionally if anyone would like to buy the game check out HERE! – keep in mind this link is to an eBay sale so it won’t always be valid but it’s valid at the time of publication and will hopefully either be updated or removed when it stops being valid.
Shove Ha’penny: Number of Players: 2/4 Year of Publication: Unknown
Rebound: Number of Players: 2/4 Year of Publication: 1971
Sliding on down – Shove Ha’penny/Rebound:
Both Shove Ha’pennyand Reboundare easy to learn, quick games. Rebound is included in this post, despite the fact that it’s not a wooden game, because it’s the game Shove Ha’penny developed into in the late 20th century.
What’s in the Box:
Well, in the box for Shove Ha’penny there’s a large-ish wooden board, an instructions card, and five half penny coins.
In the box for Rebound there’s a large plastic board, two elastic bands and eight (or sixteen in our case) ball bearings with coloured rings around them.
Playing the Game:
The objective of Shove Ha’penny is to be the first player to shove three coins into the same scoring area. In Rebound it’s to be the first player to score 500 points.
Players take it in turns to shove all five coins into the scoring areas.
You must not touch the board with the hand you aren’t using to move the coins, if you do, you score zero for that round.
At the end of your turn you must let the other player remove the coins from the board, if you take them, your score for that round isn’t counted.
If a coin ends up off the board for any reason during your turn, that coin cannot be replayed and doesn’t count towards your score.
Any coin that finishes outside the scoring area in any way is not counted and cannot be replayed.
Coins on the line (even the tiniest bit) don’t count only coins between the two area lines count.
Players choose a colour and take the four ball bearings with their colour ring around them.
The game progresses in rounds, players take it in turns to play one of their ball bearings, they do this until they’ve played all four of them, then the round is over, and the points are scored.
Any ball bearing that leaves the board is not counted and cannot be replayed, the same applies to a ball that passes out the other side of the scoring area into the trench space at the end of the board.
Points are only scored when a ball is entirely in a zone if any part of it is in a lower zone it scores the lower (or no, if its hanging into the no score zone) points. If ball is still physically on the board and not in the pit is accepted as 100 point score.
As far as strategy goes, there isn’t much that can be applied for these games, apart from being able to gauge well how much force is needed to get your pieces into their optimum positions. So basically having steady hands and a good gauge of force. It takes a few play of the game to get the idea of how much force you need and even after that some how your mind just keep forgetting.
History and Interesting Facts:
It’s the smaller offspring of a game called Shovel Boardand was played in taverns as far back as the 15th century.
If a player managed to shove three coins into one “bed” or scoring area in a turn, he has scored a “sergeant”, if he manages to get all five coins into one bed, he has scored a “sergeant-major” or a “gold-watch”.
Substances can be added to the board to lubricate it, any of the following have been commonly used; French chalk, black lead, beer, paraffin and petrol (although the latter two of these do make the game rather more combustible).
Officially, one side of the coins used are supposed to be smoothed flat, this should be tails side, as, in England, it’s illegal to deface a picture of monarch.
Because a coin only scores if it’s clearly between two of the scoring lines, the more expensive Shove Ha’penny boards had rails in the grooves of the lines that could be lifted out to determine if a coin scored or not. If the coin moved when the rail was removed, it scored nothing.
Around Oxford, a variation of the game called “Progressive” is played, in which, a player is allowed to retrieve and replay any coins that score. Apparently with more skilled players this can result in the game ending before the second player’s had a chance to shove at all. I imagine this to be a depressing state of things if you lose the toss and are playing second.
In Stamford, locals organize a “world championship” for the game Push-Penny which is much the same as Shove Ha’penny and this takes place during the Stamford Festival, at the end of June/start of July every year.
We’ve posted these games together because they’re very similar, Rebound just appears to a be a more modern version of Shove Ha’penny, however, I can’t (although my search wasn’t very in-depth or long) actually find any documents that link the two games. So there you go. 🙂
Both these games are good fun for two people, and are very easy to learn and play. however, of the two, I would say that I enjoy Rebound more, although Shove Ha’penny may well require more actual skill, as you’ve less space to push down, and are playing with pieces that’re less naturally inclined to slide. I recommend both, especially as games suitable for playing with children of any age!
For further reading, and a little more detail on my history points, go here.