Update – We’re both back!

So as you’re all aware from Dave’s updates, I’ve been out and about in Europe for the last month or so with a friend. But I’m back now and we’re ready to get the blog back on schedule(ish) for the rest of the summer!

However, whilst on our travels, Rosie and I have come across, and played, many a game. Some that we’ve already reviewed, like Cripple Mr Onion. But other (more interesting games) that we found in hostels we stayed in, such as Pandemic! (Turns out we’re terrible at this game, we’re just too good at destroying all of humanity…) So below are a few photos of the game related things that we did:

This was waiting for us (by my bed) in the hostel in Stockholm, the first city we visited, because we’re both terrible at maths, we didn’t play it.

 

For some reason, it won't let me turn it the right way up...
For some reason, it won’t let me turn it the right way up…

In between Mathable and the next photo we also managed to play English Scrabble with a German Scrabble set. Needless to say scoring was interesting. Unfortunately, we forgot to take photos. ūüė¶

Switzerland appears to have been the best country for board games in the hostels, most of the other places had chess, Copenhagen did have a few other interesting-looking games, but they were mostly in Danish, which neither of us could speak or read.

We found this in the hostel in Zurich:

PANDEMIC! It's a race to save humanity
PANDEMIC! It’s a race to save humanity

We freaked out a few people sharing the common area with us for the five hours that we spent playing this. Apparently we were taking saving the world from four deadly diseases far too seriously…

Also in Zurich I wanted to get this for Dave:

Because it's just beautiful, as chess sets go
Because it’s just beautiful, as chess sets go

But it was a little out of my price range. He got a bar of Toblerone instead.

From Zurich we headed to Bern, and in Bern we found (but didn’t get a photo of) a giant Nine Men’s Morris set, an outdoor one, like the chess sets they have in schools and parks. It was awesome. But we also managed to play Mastermind in Bern, albeit, with a set that was missing a few pieces…

Slightly makeshift game of Mastermind
Slightly makeshift game of Mastermind

Once again, we apologize for the slightly hiatus in posts, but we’re hoping to be back on track, spamming you all with geeky board game reviews within the next few days!

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Stealth Chess

That Time I almost Lost at Chess…To a GIRL!…Who’s Younger than Me!

Luckily for me she backed herself into a stalemate and my pride was slightly less destroyed than it could have been. Like our Cripple Mr. Onion post this post is a bit of a bonus this month. Being a game invented by Terry Pratchett (well, more an adaptation of a classic game) we decided it needed a mention.

Being Stealthy at Chess:

Stealth Chess is much like normal Chess in the sense that all the regular rules of Chess apply and all the normal pieces are present and used. The game is altered by the widening of the board by one row on each side; these rows are called Slurks, and the addition of two pieces to each side which are Assassins. The Assassins start in the Slurks next to the Rooks, and only the Assassins can move in the Slurks. Unfortunately we did not have a Stealth Chess board lying around so we had to make do with a normal Chess board and imagine the additional rows, additionally the pieces that look very different to the others are pieces we borrowed from a different set to act as the Assassins.

Stealth Chess staring positions.
Stealth Chess starting positions.

Like in normal Chess all normal rules apply with the addition of the rules concerning the Assassins and Slurks. Assassins move one space in any direction but can move two to capture. Only they can move in the Slurks, and now you get the complicated bit; the Assassin can move as many spaces out of the Slurks as he has in the Slurks. To clarify, if over the course of 6 moves the Assassin has moved six spaces in the Slurks (including just backwards and forwards) the Assassin may move up to six space out of the Slurks, when exiting it, in one move and then an additional space to capture. So:

This white Assassin has moved three spaces in the Slurks:

So its in range of the Black (purple) Queen.
So it’s in range of the Black (purple) Queen.

So on exiting the Slurks it can capture the Queen like so:

So the Queen gets taken.
So the Queen gets taken.

Now the only point of ambiguity we have in this is “can the Assassin move through other pieces in this way?” Our answer was yes as, if you read the rules as laid out on Wikipedia here or the Discworld Wiki here,¬†it describes the Slurks as another board under the existing board. So rather than moving down the side of the board it represents a space under the board which the Assassins move through and pop up to capture things. Additionally to all of this Assassins cannot take each other, out of professional courtesy.

The End and Other Things:

Normally I destroy my sister at Chess and our game of Stealth Chess was going the same way until I made one massive error and then it nearly all ended in tears. Except after a long time she managed to fight me into this position:

How it all ended.
How it all ended.

Which of course is Stalemate. However I think by the fifty-move rule¬†it may have already been stalemate but that’s neither here nor there.

Anyway that’s the last time I lose concentration.

So a few last comments about Stealth Chess:

  • It’s given me an awesome idea for a two tiered version of Chess… Literally building two Chess boards that sit over each other.
  • Also to build an actual Stealth Chess board with the Slurks and proper Assassin pieces.

A couple of interesting “facts” about the game are:

  • On the Discworld it’s thought to actually be the original version of the game – “this belief is corroborated by the in-world discovery, in a tomb¬†in¬†Muntab, of a preserved corpse with an 8√ó10 board embedded in its skull and a pawn hammered up each nostril”
  • The master of the game in the Discworld is – ”¬†Lord¬†Havelock Vetinari, provost¬†of Assassins and¬†Patrician of Ankh-Morpork.”

All in all it’s an interesting adaptation of Chess and a bit difficult to get your head around if you’re so used to thinking about Chess in the standard way. It’s well worth a play, and you don’t even have to buy anything if you already have a Chess set and a bit of imagination!

To Catch a Criminal – Scotland Yard and Some Chairess

From the Depths of The Less Obscure Than we Thought:

4 - 5

Number of Players: 3-6

Year of Publication: 1983

Creator(s): 

Scotland Yard¬†is a game we’ve had since…. Well, since forever, so naturally we did no research and just assumed it was obscure. However it turns out it’s sold over 4 million copies worldwide and is still widely available.

The Box.
The Box.

The game is basically a depiction of detectives trying to catch a criminal called Mr X, but if they had no cars… No money… And the only transport option available to them were transport vouchers that would only take them one stop at a time. Even on Taxis that done have stops. Not to sound to stupid but one of the best things about this game is its simplicity, you don’t have to spend an hour reading the rules just to play for half an hour, and on top of that the board is an awesome map of London!

The board, The starting card, my detective and the travel tokens.
The board, The starting card, my detective and the travel tokens.

Every station or stop on the board is numbered. You each start on a stop chosen at random from and deck of cards with the stop numbers on. Mr X doesn’t show where he starts, instead he has a pad where he writes where he is. Every time he moves he writes on the pad the number of the stop he has moved to and then covers it with the travel token for whichever transport method he has used. After three moves he has to show the other detectives where he is then it’s every fifth move after that.

Mr. X Travel recorder and the best clue the detectives have to work out where he is.
Mr. X Travel recorder and the best clue the detectives have to work out where he is.

In this way the detectives must try to land on the same space as Mr X using the knowledge of where he has been and what travel methods he has used. However the detectives have a limited number of travel passes for different things and as they use them they pass them over to Mr X, so, for example, when they run out of ones for the underground they can no longer travel by it and when they run out of all of them they lose because Mr X will never run out. So potentially the game can be fairly short as board games go and it has a finite ending and cannot pull a monopoly on you.

And blue is the winner!
And blue is the winner!
The list of Mr X. movements can then be examined to see how close the detectives where at any one time.
The list of Mr X. movements can then be examined to see how close the detectives were at any one time.

Chairess:

What is Chairess I hear no one ask… WELL! Its Chess… Played with Chairs on a tiled floor when you don’t have a chess board. Recently we were in Brazil, as one often is, and we were bored, so me and my friend looked at the assets we had to entertain ourselves. They happened to be a very large room with a tiled floor and a LOT of plastic chairs and this is what happened:

The initial set up of Chairess.
The initial set up of Chairess.

Unfortunately due to the lack of other colored chairs both sides where white. But! We combined our great intellects and came up with the idea of using which way the chairs were facing to determine which side they were on and the way we stacked them to determine what piece they were:

  1. for Pawns
  2. for Castles
  3. for Knights
  4. for Bishops
  5. for a Queen
  6. for a King
Taking pieces was interesting.
Taking pieces was interesting.

Lets just say that it was less than ideal when it came to moving anything from the Knight onward. If we had had access to a printer we would have printed off identifiers but alas our sole attributes that day where some white chairs a large room and the flip flops on our feet which we used to mark the corners.

Unfortunately due to the sameness of everything it takes quite a lot of thinking to get your head round Chairess.
Unfortunately due to the sameness of everything it takes quite a lot of thinking to get your head round Chairess.

As the game progresses it gets harder and harder to keep it straight in your head, because not only do all the pieces look the same they’re also much larger so to take the board in as a whole becomes difficult. This may explain why I lost 2 – 1 to my friend where as on a normal Chess board I beat him 2 – 1.

So if you ever find yourself in a position of boredom¬†and you happen to have a large tiled room and a lot of chairs… You know what to do!