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.
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. 😦
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:
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:
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…
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!
So to conclude classic games month we have Battleships… A game so iconic that they made a film out of it. A terrible, terrible film. Which is a shame, because the trailer made it look like it could have been quite good:
But if you haven’t seen it, really don’t! Any film starring Rihanna is probably going to be terrible and Taylor Kitsch doesn’t have the best track record either (although I maintain John Carter was nowhere near as bad as people said it was). Anyway I have already digressed severely, so to the point!
What’s In The Box:
Well we played this game the original way; which is on paper a bit like noughts and crosses (see the history section at the bottom for more info) and we played a newer version of the game that’s called Air Battle. So, for the paper one all you need is two pieces of paper, two pencils and a ruler/straight edge is handy, but not essential. But for Air Battle and most other variations of Battleships you will find these pieces (or similar).
A box with two sides each with a grid on the divider and a grid on the bottom.
Five (amount may vary) battleships or similar craft.
A load of red pegs for marking hits
A load of white pegs for marking misses.
Playing The Game:
Objective: To sink all the other persons battleships by guessing correct grid co-ordinates until you’ve hit and sunk all their ships before they can do the same to you.
The game starts by by both player secretly placing their ships on there grid so only they can see.
Each player then takes it in turns to guess the grid co-ordinates of the other persons ships; the other person must tell honestly if they have hit any of their ships. The player making the guess then records hits and misses on the grid that they have not placed their ships on so they can remember what they have and haven’t guessed. The other player also records where that player’s guessed if it’s a hit or a miss on the grid that they have placed there battleships on.
A player must announce when a ship is sunk and when all a players ships are sunk they’ve lost the game.
TO CLUSTER OR NOT TO CLUSTER… That is the question. Sometimes it pays off to cluster all your ships together, because then when one ship is sunk your opponent thinks that’s it for that section of the board and goes to guessing some place else. However, once they catch on that this is what you’ve done they very soon defeat you.
SEMI CLUSTER? – I find the best tactic is to put two of you ships together so it makes the shape of a one of the larger ships, that way at any point if you say sunk they think they’ve sunk a larger ship and stop bombing that area whilst really they’ve probably only sunk one of the two ships you put together.
READ HER POKER FACE – As always it pays to know they way your opponent thinks.
BE GOOD AT GAMES OF COMPLETE CHANCE – Because that’s really what this game comes down to.
History and Interesting Things:
The original game was developed as a pen and paper game (which is why we played it on paper too) and was sold by multiple companies in the 1930s.
There are many, many variations of the game, including different sized grids versions, multiplayer versions, versions with submarines, versions with aircraft (like the one we played) and version with many different shaped craft.
There is a terrible film inspired by the game that came out in 2012… I know I’ve already mentioned it but if you doubt its terribleness watch this:
Obviously Battleships is iconic; its also good fun to play and takes next to no skill so anyone can do it. However it’s just a game of guessing, so gets easily boring and you can quite legitimately be beaten by a child at it… And that might tend to make you angry.
Scrabble is one of the classics of classics. There’s a high chance that you’ve played this game at some point in your life, or, failing that, have seen a copy floating around in your grandparents house that they like to get out at Christmas and encourage everyone to play together. Either way, it’s a fun game to play, especially on teams, and especially especially if there are dyslexics around.
What’s In The Box:
1 Game Board
4 Tile Racks
1 Bag containing 100 Letter Tiles
1 Pencil and Score Sheet
The Chambers Dictionary (not actually included in the box, or used by anyone I’ve ever met when playing this game)
Playing The Game:
Objective: To have scored the most points by the time one player plays their last tile and there are none remaining in the draw bag.
To determine who plays first each player takes one tile at random from the draw bag, the player with the letter closest to the start of the alphabet is the starting player. From them play proceeds clockwise around the board. All of these tiles are then returned to the bag, and new tiles are drawn. In play order players draw 7 tiles and place them on their tile rack, keeping them out of the sight of the other players.
Once all players have their tiles, player one places a word on the board. All words must be at least two letters long and the first player places their first word across the red Double Word space in the middle of the board. After the first word has been played other players can lay words; new words must either be played through other words, crossword style, or be added on to the end of a word already on the board, for instance by adding an “S”. All words played must be real words, and names (of both places and people) and foreign languages are not considered legitimate words.
So you can kind of see what the opening words of a game might look like, even though the angle of that photo is weird as. Once a player has played a word, they then draw the same number of new tiles at random from the Draw Bag as they placed on the board. This can be interesting, because there’s no knowing which letters you’re going to be blessed with next. You can end up with a rack that only contains vowels, or consonants. Which is often not a huge amount of use.
However, there is a rule that allows a player to forfeit a turn to change all of their tiles, to do this the player must wait until it’s their turn, and then exchange their whole rack for fresh tiles from the Draw Bag. Play then immediately passes to the next player. This is a good rule that can allow you do something about getting rid of a rack that looks like this:
Play continues in this way, with one player keeping track of score until one player plays their last tile after the Draw Bag has been emptied. To score a player has to take into account both the value of the letter tiles played (the number on the bottom right hand corner of the tile), and whether or not the word has been played over any double/triple word/letter score tiles on the board. If it has then you must increase the score of that word for that player accordingly. If a player plays a word that changes a word already on the board, for example playing a word that starts with “S” and adding the required S onto the end of a word already existing on the board, the player adds up to total for the word they have changed, as well as the word they played, to be the score for that turn.
A generally accepted method of keeping score is to draw out columns on your score sheet with the initial or name of each player at the top of a column, you then keep a running total going in the columns so you can see exactly where each player’s at throughout the game, like this:
The best kind of strategy for this game is to look out for the bonus point spaces on the board, because there’s no point in making an absolutely fantastic word that lets you play lots of your letters but doesn’t get you any extra points if it then creates easy access to a double/triple word/letter tile that another player can use to score some ridiculous amount of points. Other than that this is really a “be as imaginative as possible” kind of game, where the weirder the words you play are, the better the game gets.
History and Interesting Things:
The game was invented by an American out-of-work architect called Alfred Mosher Butts in 1938. He created the game by combining features of anagrams and crosswords.
It was originally called LEXIKO and then CRISS CROSS WORDS before becoming Scrabble.
Although everyone thinks of this game as a word game, it’s actually fundamentally a number game, to create the game a series of painstaking letter-frequency calculations were needed to determine how many times each letter should appear in the game.
The game was rejected by many games manufacturers, until Butts met James Brunot who loved the game.
Between Butts and Brunot they refined the rules of the game and came up with the name Scrabble which means “to grope frantically”.
The game was trade marked in 1948.
To produce the game the Brunot’s rented an abandoned schoolhouse in Dodgington, Connecticut, where, asissted by friends, they turned out 12 games an hour, stamping letters onto the wooden tiles one by one.
As with many games the game lost money in its first year, but, over a few years, the game steadily grew in popularity, until the president of MACYS came across the game on holiday and ordered some for his store. Soon after this it became a must-have, and Brunot realized that they could no longer produce the games fast enough to meet demand. They licensed Selchow & Righter to produce the game until, in 1972, they purchased the trademark from Brunot.
Selchow & Righter were bought by COLECO in 1986, but when they declared bankruptcy in 1989 the trademark was bought by Hasbro, the largest games manufacturer in America.
The game is now found in one in every three American houses.
A very good game, although only rated 3 out of 5, this isn’t a reflection on how much I like the game, more of a reflection on how accessible it is for everyone. For instance, although it’s a great game for everyone in that it can be very fun and silly, it’s an unbelievably challenging game for anyone with literacy difficulties, as well as occasionally being very frustrating due to the random selection of tiles. That said, it’s a game everyone should play a few times, even if it’s just to discover that your friends know words that they didn’t know they knew so you can argue over whether or not they’re allowed on the board.
Clue is probably one of the most popular board games of all time after Monopoly. For those of you living in the UK and a few other places your know this game by the name Cluedo. While it’s a classic its far less boring (and infinitely continuous) than Monopoly and even has a slightly role playing feel to it without directly inviting you to step into a character at all (you may choose to anyway due to physiological imbalances… Like my self).
What’s In The Box:
Game Board (with 9 Rooms)
9 Room Cards
6 People Cards
6 Weapon Cards
1 Confidential Case File
1 Die (2 dice in later editions of the game)
6 Miniature Weapons:
Lead Pipe (Lead Piping in Cluedo)
Knife (Dagger in Cluedo)
Wrench (Spanner in Cluedo)
6 Character Pawns:
Miss Scarlet (spelled Scarlett in Cluedo)
Mr. Green (Reverend Green in Cluedo)
Pad of Detective Notebooks
Confidential Case File
Instructions – found printed on the box of our copy (not pictured)
Playing The Game:
Objective: To be the first player to correctly accuse the right person of the murder in the right room with the right weapon.
The game starts by the three decks of card being shuffled separately and the top card of each deck being placed into the case file (without anyone knowing what they are). The rest of the cards are shuffled together and dealt between the remaining players. Each player also has a detective notebook and a pencil. The weapons are randomly distributed between the rooms (only one per-room).
Each player may then look at the cards in their hand and mark them off on their detective notebook so they know they’re not the cards in the case file. Make sure your notebook and cards are kept out of the sight of other players. Play then starts with Miss Scarlet who roles the dice and moves accordingly (you cannot move diagonally). Play then proceeds clockwise around the board.
When a player enters a room he/she may make a suggestion of who committed the murder. They can suggest any character (even themselves or one not controlled by a player), on doing so they move the character to the room they are in and then they also choose the weapon they think they may have used and move that into the room.
The player to the left of the person making the suggestion must then show one of the cards relevant to the suggestion if they have one, if they do not then the next person must show one relevant card and so on. They must only show the player making the suggestion and none of the other players. If the player to the left of the one that made the suggestion has more than one of the relevant cards they may choose which one to show, and as the game progresses this can be used to your advantage to throw the other players off by making them believe you don’t have a a card that you’re actually holding.
Once you have done this enough and someone is confident they know which three cards are in the confidential case file (and therefore not in play) they may make an accusation. To do this they say “I am accusing, <a person>, in <a place> with <a weapon>”. They do not move the relevant pieces, nor do they need to be in the correct room. They then look in the case file to see if they are correct; if so they are the winner, if not they are out of active play and only stay to show their cards upon the suggestions of other players.
Like in real life DON’T BE TO QUICK TO ACCUSE – While you might be eager to win the game and are being hasty to attempt to beat the other players to it, be sure of your facts before you go yelling accusations – otherwise it’s game over for you!
BE AWARE OF WHO’S SHOWING CARDS ON SUGGESTIONS – Always take mental notes of who’s showing cards with regards to certain things. If a suggestion gets all the way round the board with no one showing any cards then the only person who might have any of the components of the suggestion is the person who made the suggestion themselves.
PLAY YOUR CARDS CLOSE TO YOUR CHEST – An easy game to accidentally cheat on, especially if someone’s stretching at the right time or “just leaning back”. So keep your cards and your detective notebook well covered.
History and Interesting Things:
The game was initially patented in 1944 by Anthony E. Pratt under the name Murder!
The game was originally created to be played in air raid shelters during the War.
Anthony E. Pratt’s wife then presented it to Waddingtons‘ executive, Norman Watson, who purchased it.
It was then given the name Cluedo which was a play on the words Clue and Ludo (which means ‘I play’ in latin).
Whilst the game was created in 1944 and the patent granted in 1947 the game was not launched ’till 1949 due to war shortages.
The game was also licensed to Parker Brothers and renamed Clue to be distributed in the United States at the same time as it was launched in the UK.
The game that was launched in 1949 differed in a few ways from the original concept. The games original design had been to have ten characters one of which was randomly assigned as the victim at the beginning of the game, leaving eight playable characters and nine suspects. Mr. Brown, Mr. Gold, Miss Grey, and Mrs. Silver where eliminated from the game and Nurse White was renamed Mrs. White and Colonel Yellow was renamed Colonel Mustard. Originally there were also eleven rooms, this was canceled down to nine, eliminating the gun room and the cellar. There was also supposed to be nine weapons, some of the eliminated or replaced weapons were the bomb, syringe, shillelagh (walking stick), fireplace poker and the (later used) axe and poison. Some of these weapons and characters were used in later spin-offs of the game.
Additionally, the game play was different from the published version. The cards were distributed into the rooms for the players to collect. Players also had to land on other players to make suggestions about them through the use of tokens that, once exhausted, prevented you from making any more suggestions.
Both Parker Brothers and Waddingtons‘ produced a number of unique editions between 1949 and 1992 when they were both purchased by Hasbro in the early 1990s. Hasbro continued to produce unique editions for each market until 2002/2003 when it produced the modern version of Clue/Cluedo which was unified for all markets with only localised spelling and regional changes made to each edition.
The version we own (appearing in this post) is a 1989 Parker Brothers North American copy (even though we live in the UK) and we also own the modern UK version.
Clue (Cluedo) is a good game… It’s easy to see why it’s been such a commercial success. However, in my opinion, it suffers from the same thing Monopoly does… It’s boring. Now this isn’t because it’s inherently boring, it’s just because most people most places have played it LOADS since they were children and therefore have no interest in it. In a sense it’s a victim of its own success when it comes to catching my interest. Like when you’re sitting there with some people and you go “Hey guys, let’s play some Monopoly” and everyone groans and goes “PLEASE NOOOO!” it’s a similar response with Clue just not quite to the same extreme. This being said, it’s still a good and well developed game, and its easy to understand why it’s been around and been popular for over half a century.
Game Money in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 500
2 Spare (blank) Title Deed cards
28 Title Deed cards
Two standard 6-sided dice
6 Playing Tokens
Playing The Game:
Objective: Buy and develop the most properties to either achieve Monopoly or bankrupt all your opponents.
Because the world is generally so familiar with Monopoly I’m going to try and keep this section brief. Essentially, to start the game you need to separate the Chance and Community Chest cards, shuffle them, and put them in their allotted spaces on the board. Then elect one player to be Banker, they’re in charge of making sure the correct amount of money goes in and out of the bank for the rest of the game. To start they deal out 2 x 500, 4 x 100, 2 x 50, 1 x 20, 2 x 10, 1 x5 and 5 x 1 to every player. Lastly you choose Tokens, put them on GO and then roll the dice to see who plays first. Highest roll starts.
Moving and Rolling Doubles:
Starting with the player who rolled the highest number players take it in turns to roll the dice and move the shown number of spaces around the board, moving clockwise. If a player rolls a double they may move, complete all actions associated with that move (buying property, collecting money on Chance cards, etc) and then roll again, and move again. However, if a player rolls three doubles in a row, they must go to jail. There are several options for things it’s possible to land on, the most common of which is a Property space.
Landing on a Property:
If you land on an unowned property you may buy it by exchanging the amount of money shown on the space with the Banker for the Title Deed for the property you landed on. However, if another player has already bought the property you land on you must pay them rent for stopping there. The amount of rent paid varies from card to card, increasing as you go further round the board. It also changes when a player owns all of a set of one colour of property, or develops the property by buying Houses or Hotels for it.
Chance or Community Chest:
There are three Chance and three Community Chest spaces around the board. If you land on one of these you must draw the top card from the relevant deck and follow all instructions on the back. Once completed you return the card to the bottom of the deck you took it from, unless the card specifies that it make be kept and used later, the only one of these in the decks is the Get Out Of Jail Free card. Once this has been used it is also returned to the bottom of the deck. Chance and Community Chest are a mixture of good and bad cards, they can be helpful things, like cards that allow you to roll again, or take some money from the bank. But they can also be bad, forcing you to pay taxes or go to jail, so landing on one is always a bit of a gamble. Unless the cards specifies money to be paid either to the bank or to another player, all money lost to these cards in placed in the middle of the board and can be claimed by landing on Free Parking.
Income Tax and Super Tax:
These are the only two spaces on the board that can force you to pay money, and this money is paid straight to the bank.
Jail and Go To Jail:
These two spaces are diagonally opposite to each other on the board. The jail space itself is most irrelevant to game play – acting as a space where nothing happens – unless you get a Chance or Community Chest card that sends you to jail, you land on the Go To Jail space, or you roll three doubles in a row. These are the only three actions that can send a player to jail.
Getting out of jail is slightly harder than getting in, you can get out of jail by doing one of the following: throwing a double on any one of the three turns following you being sent to jail, playing a Get Out of Jail Free card, either by already having it in your possession before you went to jail, or by buying it off another player for an agreed price, or, paying a fine of £50. If you choose to try and roll your way out of jail, but on your third roll do not succeed in throwing a double, you must then pay the fine.
After this is paid a players turn may continue as normal, moving and buying property. Whilst in jail a player may also collect rent, buy or sell properties and build Houses or Hotels. The only thing they really miss out on is moving and passing GO.
When a player passes or lands on GO at any point after the start of the game (with the exception of if they’re being sent to jail) they collect £200 from the bank.
Houses and Hotels:
A player can purchase these when they own all of one set of a property. For example, they own both Park Lane and Mayfair they would be able to purchase Houses, and then Hotels for them, like this:
Before buying a Hotel for a property a player must first buy four Houses. They cannot jump ahead a put a Hotel straight onto the most expensive property they own.
When a player lands on Free Parking they can collect any money that’s currently in the middle of the board, this is a nice bonus, especially if it was mostly your money to begin with.
Winning The Game!
A player wins the game when they have either bankrupted all their opponents, or they’ve achieved Monopoly by buying every single property on the board. This is a simple objective that’s actually pretty hard to achieve. When we play we usually end up ascertaining a winner by cashing up at the point that everyone agrees they’re bored. The person with the most money (inclusive of property value) is then proclaimed the winner.
Players in debt to other players can mortgage their properties to the bank to try and pay off their debts, these properties are place face down in front of their owner, and can be bought back from the bank at a later stage of the game. Properties can also be given to a player as part of paying off a debt if you don’t have enough money.
Buy as many properties as possible! I am deadly serious about this, if you don’t buy anything because you’re holding out for one particular property (which you may or may not land on, depending on the roll of the dice) and end up hoarding your money, it’s not going to do you any good. You’ll be able to just pay rent and taxes and such for a while, but then, as there are more and more spaces on the board that you have to pay to stop on, you’ll find that you fast run out of money. Buying up lots of properties also prevents your opponents from being able to complete sets of properties and therefore stops them buying Houses or Hotels. This gives you good trading leverage later in the game.
Don’t be rash. If an opponent wants to trade a property with you, don’t accept whatever they offer first, see if they’ll give more, and if they won’t, keep it until they desperately need it. When this happens, you should be able to name your price.
If you’re playing with someone who’s irritatingly good at this game, team up against them! Rope in all the other players and support each other with loans and stuff to try and bankrupt this one player. Once that’s done and they’re out of the game you can then turn on each other. Not very sportsman-like, I know, but hey, it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there.
Other than that, don’t be too open about which properties you really want, if you’re trying to get a specific set for some reason, this only drives up the price if you want to buy or trade one off another player.
History and Interesting Things:
The first version of the game was designed by an American, Elizabeth Magie, and patented in 1904 under the name The Landlord’s Game.
It was originally intended to show the consequences of Ricardo’s Law of Economic rent and Georgist concept of a single tax on land value.
The game went through so many changes and revisions between its original publication and the Monopoly that we’re all familiar with now that by the 1970’s it had become popular folklore that Charles Darrow was the sole creator of the game.
This was so much believed that it was printed in the rules for a fair few years as well as in a book about Monopoly printed in 1974, and was cited in a book about toys as recently as 2007.
No family I’ve played this game with has ever played it the same way, or followed all the rules, for example, in our house we have a rule that if you pass GO you collect £200, but if you land on GO you can collect £400. I believe this rule was invented by our mother as a way of getting her more money when she was losing to her various children.
When playing the long version of the game it can literally go on for days. Our record was 5 days, a game left out on the living room floor for almost the whole of a rainy half term.
I don’t think I’ve ever played a game where someone’s managed to achieve Monopoly. We’ve all gotten bored and gone away before that happens.
When Ralph Anspach created Anti-Monopolyin 1973, Parker Brothers tried to sue him for copyright infringement, the case went to trial in 1976, but in 1979 Anspach won on appeals, the ruling being that the Monopoly trademark was generic, and therefore unenforceable.
There have been several video game versions of Monopoly. I remember that we used to have a PC game of Monopoly, which was one of the only things we were allowed to do on the computer when we were small.
One of the most classic of classic games, really good fun for all ages, but can be the cause of a vast number of arguments. If you haven’t played it, you should, at least once. There’s a reason this game’s sold so many copies and been reproduced in so many countries and versions – because it’s awesome. Having said that, I have only rated it 3 out of a possible five on our ratings at the top of the posts, this is mostly because the game can take days, and games that have definite ends tend to be more desirable, and less overwhelming when you sit down the play them.
I read about the history of the game on Wikipedia (and we all know that it’s super-trustworthy information) here.