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!
We’re all aware that it’s Terry Pratchett month, and that the last official post for this month has now gone up – The Witches. So now we’ve played all four officially produced Discworld games we wanted to have a look at the slightly more unofficial games. The most well known of these is Cripple Mr Onion. This is a fictitious card game that Terry Pratchett invented that’s played all over the Disc. It features in Wyrd Sisters, Reaper Man, Witches Abroadand Lords and Ladies. A game called “Shibo Yancong-San” (Cripple Mr Onion in Chinese) also appears in Interesting Times.
The game is played with an 8-suited deck of cards, the Discworld has its own deck of cards, called the caroc deck. However, for the purposes of playing in our universe a deck with the following eight suits and suit-pairs is acceptable: Spades and Axes, Clubs and Tridents, Hearts and Roses and Diamonds and Doves.
With the intention of learning the game, I acquired one such deck from the Fat Pack Playing Card Company, which has made learning the game easier, as the other alternative is to shuffle two normal decks together, but this presents the problem of having then two of each suit, and could get very confusing.
The game is a little like Poker in two respects, the first of which is that you must make the highest scoring hand to win the round, and the second of which is that, if you don’t play it often, the rules are such that’s it’s easy to forget them and end up both confused and annoyed. There’s a dealer for each round, which changes at the end of every round. The game starts by each player being dealt five cards face down, which they are immediately allowed to look at and can then discard up to four of them, being given replacement cards by the dealer. Once everyone’s done this a further five cards are dealt face up onto the table in front of each player – except the dealer, who receives theirs face down.
The first player then begins by trying to assemble a high-scoring hand (I’ll list the different hand in point order in a minute), once they’ve done this, the player to their left must assemble a higher-scoring hand, or fold. If they succeed in creating a higher scoring hand the first player is then allowed to try to rearrange their cards to score even higher, or fold. Once on player has been forced to fold play continues to the left until one player remains. This player wins the hand and becomes the dealer for the next round.
Scoring – lowest to highest hands:
Bagel – two cards with values totalling 20.
Two-card Onion – two cards with values totalling 21.
Broken Flush – three or more cards totalling between 16 and 21 inclusive with all but onein the same suit-pair.
Three-card Onion – three cards with values totalling 21.
Flush – like a Broken Flush but with all cards in the same suit-pair.
Four-card Onion – see other Onions.
Broken Royal – combination of 678 of any suit.
Five-card Onion – same-same, see above.
Royal – combination of 777 of any suit.
Six-card Onion – you get the idea by now.
Wild Royal – combination of 888 in a hand when eights are wild. (Wild eights’ll be explained a bit further down)
Double Onion – two picture cards and two aces.
Triple Onion – three picture cards and three aces.
Lesser Onion – four picture cards and four aces.
Great Onion – five picture cards and five aces.
Thus ends how to make points in this game. But now you begin to wonder “Isn’t the game called Cripple Mr Onion? We’ve had a lot of onions so far, but no crippling…” and you’d be right to present this question. Crippling Mr Onion comes into play when we get to the modifiers for the game. This is the bit that confused me the most, simply because there’s a lot to remember. So what I’m going to do, for the purposes of keeping this post fairly short, is simply list all the possible modifiers that can be played, and link you to a proper explanation of them. Except Wild Eights, which I said I’d explain, Crippling Mr Onion, because it’s the whole point of this post and The Fool, because that one’s funny. So here we go:
These can be played through the game to increase the value of a hand and, with the exception of the crippling rule, are all optional extras to the game. I’ll list the ones I’m not explaining first, and finish with the most interesting ones.
The Sender of Eights
Now, on to the others! We’ll start by explaining how to Cripple Mr Onion:
In the event that a player displays a Great Onion as their hand for a round, another player may immediately display a nine-card running flush and thereby instantly win the hand. If a player’s displayed a Great or Lesser Onion another player may display a ten-card running flush to Cripple Mr Onion, they may also use this to steal a win from a player who’s just Crippled an Onion using only a nine-card running flush. This is the only non-optional modifier.
Once your onion’s been crippled, you may find it looks a little like this:
This modifier’s actually called Null Eights but it makes eights wild. So, in a normal hand, where eights are not wild, an eight may be played as if its value were zero or eight, to increase the size of a hand in order to score higher. Because of this you can include them in an Onion to improve its size. However, in the round following the one in which this took place, eights become wild for the duration of that round and this modifier cannot be used again until the following round.
This is the last thing I’m going to explain. If a player holds the Jack of Clubs, they may declare it before the first player’s played their first group of cards. If they do this, Onions and Bagels switch places in scoring so a Double Bagel or Triple Bagel etc, become the most valuable hands with the single exception that a Great Onion will still beat a Great Bagel. It also then becomes possible for another player to Cripple Mr Bagel.Which is the only reason I wanted to specifically explain this one. I just like the concept of crippling a bagel.
There you have an explanation of how to play Cripple Mr Onion, I promise it’s only complicated for the first few hands, after that it begins to get easier as you begin to be able to spot the most useful combinations of cards! It can be a really quick game too, so it’s good for if you’ve only got a few minutes (provided you don’t have to learn the rules first) and you can play with up to seven people, so play it with all you friends!
All the info I got for this post was got from here, plus there’s extra stuff to read there if you want it, and a full explanation of all the modifiers.