Shove Ha’penny/ Rebound

Shove Ha’penny:
3 - 5
Number of Players: 2/4
Year of Publication: Unknown

Rebound:
4 - 5
Number of Players: 2/4
Year of Publication: 1971

Sliding on down – Shove Ha’penny/Rebound:

Both Shove Ha’penny and Rebound are 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.

Shove Ha'penny
Shove Ha’penny
Rebound
Rebound

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.

The Rules:

Shove Ha’penny:

  1. Players take it in turns to shove all five coins into the scoring areas.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Any coin that finishes outside the scoring area in any way is not counted and cannot be replayed.
  6. Coins on the line (even the tiniest bit) don’t count only coins between the two area lines count.
So the coins circled in Red don not count as score where as the coins circled in green are acceptable scores.
So the coins circled in Red don not count as score where as the coins circled in green are acceptable scores.

Rebound: 

  1. Players choose a colour and take the four ball bearings with their colour ring around them.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
The ones circled in Red don't score as either they fall short of the scoring zone or they fell into the pit. The ones circled in Green score, even if they over hang the end and the ones circled in orange score the lower points of the two zones they cover.
The ones circled in Red don’t score as either they fall short of the scoring zone or they fell into the pit. The ones circled in Green score, even if they over hang the end and the ones circled in orange score the lower points of the two zones they cover.
Strategy:

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:

  1. It’s the smaller offspring of a game called Shovel Board and was played in taverns as far back as the 15th century.
  2. 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”.
  3. 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).
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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. 🙂

To Conclude:

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.

Solitaire

3 - 5

Number of Players: 1

Year publication: 1697

Creator(s): Unknown

How to Play With Yourself – Solitaire:

Solitaire is an interesting game and the first game to be officially reviewed in 2014! Solitaire is an old (usually wooden) game, so it fits our theme for this month. This is the first post with our new standardized format so any feed back would be appreciated, let us know if there’s anything we are missing or if anything is too much.

The game.
The game.

What’s in the Box:

the board and peices
The board and pieces separately.

Solitaire only consists of two things:

1) A board with 33 holes or groves in it.

2) 32 pieces – sometimes pegs and sometime marbles – sometimes 33 pieces are included so you remove one before playing.

Playing the Game:

The aim of the game is to remove all of the other pieces leaving just one in the central hole that is originally left empty.

The Rules:
  1. The board is set out with 32 pieces leaving a gap in the middle.
  2. You move to take pieces by jumping over them.
  3. Taking can only be done horizontally or vertically NOT diagonally.
  4. You win if you manage to remove all pieces and are left with one pieces in the central slot.
  5. You lose if you are left with one or more pieces not in the central slot and you cannot make any more moves.
Win
WINNING! (I did not actually win this I just set the board up like this to take this picture)
Strategy:

While this game has a very simple set of rules and is fairly easy to understand mastering it is a whole other matter! While I consider myself somewhat intelligent (and also modest) I have played this game through 30 or so times and still failed to win! I always end up in situations like this:

fail
FAIL!

I’m getting closer but I still feel quite far way. As far as I can see it makes sense to clear the board systematically and try very hard to not leave any pieces out on the edges by themselves. Of course you could always cheat and watch this video:

I have refused to watch it as I want to solve the game myself and will not be helped by Youtube! Additionally, once you’ve committed to memory how to beat the game it’s a bit of a one trick wonder as it has no replay-ability because you will always be able to beat it!

History and Interesting Facts:

The aim of this is not to give you a full history lesson on the game – that would be long and boring! But just a quick ten bullets to give you a rough idea of the games history and cultural relevance as well as some interesting facts about it.

  1. The earliest known reference to the game is a French engraving of Anne de Rohan-Chabot, pictured with the game, made in 1697. As seen here:

    Borrowed lovingly from Wikipedia!
    Borrowed lovingly from Wikipedia!
  2. The first literary reference made to it is in a French magazine from the same year.
  3. The Solitaire featured in these references, however, is not the same as the Solitaire featured in this post. There are two common/traditional versions of the game. The one featured in this post is the English version (which is fitting as we are in England) the one originally featured in the engraving is know as the European version. If you look at the engraving shown above you will see the board has four more holes that occur in the inside corners of the board to give it a more rounded shape. Additionally you do not traditionally start this game by leaving the middle hole empty but rather one offset towards the top of the board.
  4. There are also a fair few other versions of the game including a version made by J. C. Wiegleb in 1779 in German that has 47 holes and is effectively an extended version of the English version.
  5. There are also other ways of playing it on the same board, whether you’re using the English board, European board or any other. Including a version where your starting and finishing slot is in the bottom right corner.  To take a look at some of these different versions and play them (and even see solutions to them) see HERE!
  6. The shortest solution to the English version of the game was found by  Ernest Bergholt in 1912 and was proven to be the shortest by John Beasley in 1964. This solution in full detail can be viewed HERE, but I challenge you to find it yourself first, in fact I will give £100 to the person who can irrefutably prove that they found the shortest solution to the game without any assistance!
  7. While there is only one shortest solution to the English version of the game there are three shortest solutions to the European version of the game that are all very different from each other but result in the same amount of moves made. To read about them in detail see HERE!
  8. A much thorougher analysis of the mathematics of the game(s)  is provided in the book Winning Ways for Your Mathematical Plays – Volume 1 which on the extreme off chance anyone is interested in can be bought HERE and viewed as a pdf HERE (it’s discussed in chapter 23 under the name Peg Solitaire).
  9. The game is historically called Solo Noble or Peg Solitaire, however in the UK it is usually just referred to as Solitaire as the card game of the same name(s) is commonly known as Patience.
  10. Very interestingly there are 577,116,156,815,309,849,672 different sequences to the English version of the game (being how many different orders of things that can happen). From this set of sequences there are 40,861,647,040,079,968 different solutions (some are simply reflection and rotations of others). To see this maths in more detail see HERE!

To Conclude:

The thing I find most interesting about this game is your could vary it almost indefinitely and it would still be a playable and difficult problem, it is rare that you find a board game that is so interchangeable but still maintains its fundamental characteristics. It also stands as a classic mathematical/logic problem that is quite challenging to initially complete.

While it is fun and simple it is also quite limited in the sense that is is simple. You can furiously try for 40 minutes to try and figure out a solution and then lose interest completely because you feel like you’re just repeating the same thing again and again and never getting closer to your goal. So it might be a steer clear for those of you who are more OCD about things as you may never be able to put it down until you find the solution. However if you’re not OCD then definitely give it and play! I challenge you to find the solution without help!

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas My True Love Gave To Me…

…A Twelve-Player Game and I Introduced Him to Some Men in White Coats! – Boggle…A Million Points if You can Score a Twelve Letter Word in It.

Twelve Booglers Boogling!
Twelve Bogglers Boggling!

The Rules:

Boggle is a brilliant quick game for any number of players, all you need is a piece of paper and pencil to play. Before you start players must decide on the number of rounds that are going to be played, and the time allowance for each round. The timer that comes with the game is two minutes, and, although the timer for our copy doesn’t work properly any more, we still play to that, using someone’s phone as a timer. However, if you also have to do this, having the vibrate function on when you set the timer is a bad idea, as we found out when playing with Aunt Jean. The first time the timer went off and started vibrating on the table, it made such a strange sound that I was almost responsible for giving her a heart attack!
To play, one player shakes up the cube containing the dice, until they’re all flat, showing one face up. Then another player flips (or starts) the timer, and you have two minutes to make as many words as possible from the letters you can see. These words must be at least three letters long, and the letters must be connected either horizontally, vertically or diagonally. You cannot use the same letter twice in one word. When the timer goes off, one player reads out their list of words, any word that any of the other players has also written down is crossed off and doesn’t get you any points. When everyone’s checked their lists, you score. Three and four letter words are worth 1 point each, any word with more letters is given one extra point for each subsequent letter, i.e. 5 letters = 2 points etc.
After you’ve played through the appointed number of rounds the player with the most points overall wins.

For Christmas?

A great game for fans of Scrabble or similar games, not so much fun for dyslexics (like Dave) who get overexcited when they score two points in a round, mostly with three letter words. However, it’s a fantastic game because it can be played super-quickly with any number of people, you could challenge yourself and whoever you’re playing with to find the longest or silliest words possible, making it a superb game for any occasion!

Happy Twelfth and last day of Christmas and a Happy Epiphany too … For those who celebrate that kind of thing!

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas My True Love Gave To Me…

…An Eleven-Player Game and The Suggestion That I Make More Friends – Eleven Pictionarys Drawing!

Eleven Pipers...Playing Pictionary!
Eleven Pipers…Playing Pictionary!

The Rules:

Pictionary is supposed to be played on teams of two (or four), but eleven is an incredibly hard number to find a game for, I mean, Aunt Jean may be willing to make up your 12th player, but given her tendency to shout things out in a slightly turrets-y way you may want to direct her to some other occupation whilst you’re playing. For her own good . So, just pretend that eleven is the optimum number for this game, and all will be well! The objective of the game is to advance round the board by guessing the words that the other teams are drawing out on their turns. At the start of the game, each team is given a pad of paper, a pencil, a category card and a playing piece. Each playing piece is placed on the start square on the board. Each team then elects one player to be their picturist. It’s this player who will draw out clues for the other teams for the rest of the game.  Then each team rolls the die, highest roll selects the first first card. The first word sketched is an All Play sketch, meaning that all teams can guess. At the start of the game, the die is not rolled to advance. There are five different categories, as follows; All Play – this can be any word or expression and all teams participate, Difficult – challenging words, Action – verb, things that can be performed, Person/Place/Animal – self explanatory, proper names can be included and Object – noun, things that can be touched or seen.
To play, the starting picturist selects a word card from the front of the deck the word that matching the coloured square that the playing pieces is on is the one being described. The picturist is allowed five seconds to examine the word, then the timer is turned and the picturist begins sketching. The other team(s) can then begin guessing, this continues until the word is guessed or the time runs out. If the word is guessed the team then continues by rolling the die and advancing the appropriate number of squares, they then select the next card and picturist. If the word is not guessed, play then continues clockwise, the next team then begins by drawing a new card not rolling the die.
The first team to land on the Finish square and guess the word correctly, wins.

For Christmas?

So describing the rules may have been a little lengthy, but it’s actually a very simple game. It’s good fun with a small or large group of people, and a fantastic family game, whether being played for a challenge, or just for a few laughs as we all enjoy our different (and sometimes dubious in my case) artistic abilities. This game can be a fantastically relaxed way to end an evening, or it can be a creative challenge for younger kids! it’s good for everyone old enough to talk (well, possibly not quite) and is a timeless classic for family time. Appropriate for this time of year, no?

Happy Penultimate Day of Christmas!

On the Tenth Day of Christmas My True Love Gave To Me…

…A Ten-Player Game To Which I Responded “When Are We Ever Going to Play This!?” – Yahzee…leaping

Ten Yahtzee's Leaping
Ten Yahtzee’s Leaping

The Rules:

Yahtzee! The first ever dice game to appear on this blog! (Don’t worry dice lovers we have a whole month set aside for them next year). Yahtzee in some respects could be considered the poker of dice. Each player roles five dice three times each with the aim of scoring in a particular way e.g. getting three dice on the same number = 3 of a kind (similar to poker). The scores are recorded on a score card and this goes on until one player scores zero on all three of their roles then the scores are tallied up and the winner is decided.

For Christmas?

Now if you have a big family (like we do) and will have ten or more people in your house on Christmas Day then this is a good game to play because you can play with up to ten players. However if your Aunt Jean, like our Aunt Jean, gets confused and angered by dice then perhaps this is a steer clear as the whole game revolves around them. She maintains there’s no logic to chance and all chance should be avoided…”That’s how a real British man does it” (her words not mine).

Anyway, on that note, A Very Happy Tenth Day of Christmas! It may almost be over but that’s no excuse to stop eating everything in sight!

On the Fifth Day of Christmas My True Love Gave To Me…

…A Five-Player  Game To Play With His Parents and Sister. – Five Gold Pirateologys

Five Gold Pirateologys
Five Gold Pirateologys

The Rules:

Pirateology, the long and the short of it (and it’s pretty long game, as they go) is that it’s a last-man-standing game. Literally. At the end of the game, the last pirate left on the board wins. So, with a nice, clear win-objective, how complex could this game be? Well, actually, it’s got lots of bits, gold coins and Skull Cards and such, but once you’ve played it once, you’ll probably have grasped all the important factors to the game. You start the game with just a pirate piece (and can only roll one die to move), and you have to journey to get a Crew Card before you can exchange it for a ship, which moves much more speedily (with two die). There is also a Compass Spinner which is used to determine the direction in which you’re sailing. Now that this has been established, there’s a pretty simple following to the rest of the game, you can find treasure, bury treasure, battle other pirates, face sea monsters and sail through hurricanes, all in aid of being the toughest pirate sailing the seven seas!
To remove other players from the board, all you have to do is battle them to the point where you’ve taken all their treasure, they’re then eliminated from play. Easy, right?

For Christmas?

The game itself is brilliant, but it can be quite lengthy, so I wouldn’t invite Aunt Jean to play unless you’re at your wits end for ways to get her to fall asleep, since she probably doesn’t have the attention span required for this game. It’s a good family game, for 2-5 players, that teaches strategy and patience (good for educating children) and has lots of epic-looking little figures and coins and stuff to fiddle with. I would recommend this game to play on Christmas, but only if you don’t have anywhere important to be anytime soon…

This post hasn’t been linked to a full post about the game because we haven’t written one yet, however, there is a plan for one to go up later this year!

Happy Fifth Day of Christmas! May you receive five beautiful gold somethings 🙂

Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum! – Buccaneer

3.5 - 5

Number of Players: 2-4

Year of Publication: 2006

Creator(s): Unknown

Just a quick note about this post; there’s going to be a bit of both of us in here, each covering our particular areas of interest (don’t know if you’ve noticed, but my brother tends to do hands-on DIY or how-to-improve game stuff, and my posts are a little more academically orientated. Not always, but as a bit of a general rule). So to keep you on your toes, we’re both writing in this post!

A Pirates Life For Me:

So my recent wondering through Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag left me with the crazy longing to be a pirate (my parents did always say I got overly affected by films I saw and games I played). Luckily for me I didn’t have to go to Somalia (like in the South Park episode) I just got out my Pirate of the Caribbean edition of Buccaneer!

The Box
The Box

“Well that’s nothing like being a real Pirate” I hear  the voices in my head say! Well, they may have a point but its a damn good game, if a bit different and less explanatory then original Buccaneer!

Original Buccaneer. Picture courtousy of our sister who owns the original.
Original Buccaneer. Picture courtesy of our sister/brother-in-law who own the original.

History and Things:

(Who noticed the change to academmic-y things? 10 points to you if you did!)
Although it’s been around for 75 years, this game doesn’t have a lot of history, in that, it has no historic or cultural background. The original of this game was first published in Britain in 1938, making the game just two decades and four years shy of being 100 years old! It was published by Waddingtons all the way up until the 1980’s, but had several revisions in that time. The original 1938 version of the game had a roll up canvas board that was stored in a tube and this first edition of the game is now incredibly rare, selling for over £100 if complete and in good condition. The game was revised in 1958 and the most notable change is that this version of the game has the folding board that we’re all familiar with now from games like Monopoly and Cluedo. Another change in this edition was that the playing size of the board went from 25×25 to 24×24.

There were also the “Small Box” and “Large Box” versions of this edition. The “Small Box” version was released first, in this version all the pieces for the game were stored in a small box, but the thick, heavy board was separate. Then there was the “Large Box” edition, you can probably guess where this one’s going, but i’ll put it in anyway, this one had a box large enough to store the board in too. Both the small and large box editions of the game had the same graphics, but with the release of the “Blue Box” version of the game, that changed.

On the box of this version of the game there were some pirates finding a treasure chest, along with the box insert containing “Treasure Island” graphics with palm trees and such.

All the biggest changes to the game occurred in the late 1960’s-70’s; the playing size of the board was shrunk again, but this time considerably to 20×20, some ports were reduced or relocated and there was a reduction made to the total amount of treasure available in the game, only five of each type were now included in the game, where previously there were different amounts for the different values of the treasure. Where all the earlier versions of the game were for 6 players, this new edition was only for 4. This was probably the biggest change made to the game.

Our copy was released in 2006 to coincide with the Pirates of the Caribbean movies being released.

All this exciting info, and very little else, can be found here, for anyone interested!

Objectives and Rules:

The aim of the game (apart from to sail around the board pretending to be a pirate) is to collect treasure, and, like any fearless Buccaneer roaming the Caribbean, you’re going to use any means available to get it, this could mean trading with a port, attacking a fellow pirate who you see as competition for the limited amount of treasure available or getting random events from the deck of cards located at the Isla de Muerta.

Winning the Game!

To win the game you must be the first player to have a total of 20 treasure points stored in your port. This sounds like a simple objective, but your luck, and the other players, can make it very challenging!

Starting the Game, Moving and Fighting:

At the start of the game each player is dealt five crew cards, these each have a value on them and come in two colours; red and black. To move you take the total value of your crew cards (irrespective of their colour) and can move that many squares in the direction you’re facing. The colour of the cards only matters when you either attack another player, or are attacked. Then you must take the two totals separately. You subtract the smaller total from the larger, and the number you’re left with is your fighting strength. Then the player with the highest number wins the fight. He or she can then take up to two treasure tokens or two crew cards from the loser’s ship. Taking the crew cards away reduces the amount that player can move on their turn as well as decreasing their fight value. Any unclaimed treasure tokens go to the Isla Cruces. The loser must now immediately move in a straight line away from their attacker for as many spaces as their crew cards allow. In the event that a player loses all their crew cards, they can only move one square per turn.

Keeping the Game Exciting:

If you want to shake up the game a little by not attacking someone or roaming around from port to port you can sail to the Isla de Muerta, or Treasure Island, in the center for the board. Here you take a chance card from the deck on the island, and read it out. These can be both good and bad, sometimes they simply tell you to dig for treasure, other times they’re quests that can be something you must do immediately, or something that you can do at any point in subsequent turns. They can also simply be bad luck for you and your ship, they might tell you that you got caught in a storm and lost some of your crew, or treasure, or have to miss a turn. All of these are unfortunate for you, and probably make your opponent(s) very happy. These cards make the game more interesting because they’re always a gamble, they help to keep the players on their toes a bit. When you visit a place on a quest card, such as Davey Jones’ Locker, without the quest card, nothing happens, these places are irrelevant unless you have a quest card that tells you to go there for whatever reason.

I think that’s all the exciting things I can tell you about how to play the game, so now, go play it, be pirates, roam the seven seas, and drink lots of rum! I’m out and handing back over to my brother now! Enjoy! 🙂

Flaws of This Form of the Game:

In comparison to the original a HUGE flaw in this version of the game is its canceled down rules, while it means you can play faster and don’t feel like you’ve just read a novel after reading the instructions it leaves you very unclear on some points. Meaning that when certain circumstances occur you have to make a decision as to what happens in this case, leading to a face off because one option will probably benefit one player more then the others and vice versa. Now having played the original (but not for a long time) I remember the original instructions being far less vague, however I can not specifically make comparisons as I haven’t read the original instructions in two years or so.

However, the biggest flaw in this game is the storage! The game comes just in a box, with no vacuum formed plastic tray shaped to fit all the pieces (which is basically a given with 99% of board games).

This is the game in its box, the bags are not even included. I stole them from the kitchen to keep the pieces together!
This is the game in its box, the bags and rubber bands are not even included. I stole them from the kitchen to keep the pieces and cards together!

Then to add insult to injury they put this in the instructions:

This is in the instructions as some sort of compensation for the lack of actual storage system.
This is in the instructions as some sort of compensation for the lack of any actual storage system.

Now, while all the separate pieces for the board are awesome, there are a lot of bits when all’s said and done and just to have them in the upturned islands inside the box is fine…SO LONG AS YOU PLAN ON NEVER MOVING THE BOX! Or taking it to a friend house…Or anything…EVER! I can’t imagine it would be that expensive to have produced a plastic insert for the box to hold the pieces…Would it?

The last thing I have a problem with, with this version of the game, is that in the original game you got awesome little pieces of treasure!

If you can see in this picture the barrel in the ship and the pieces in the island.
If you can see in this picture there’s a barrel in the ship and treasure pieces in the island.

But in this version you just get little tokens that represent the treasure!

As you can see at the bottom of this picture the sets of tokens representing ruby's and silver.
As you can see at the bottom of this picture the sets of tokens representing ruby’s and silver.

However I will let this go as to counter it, they changed the middle section to you have to actually dig for the treasure with you finger so you don’t know what your going to get which makes the game much more interesting.

Update – The End of 2013 and The Start of the Year of the Board Game!

Some Changes and the Future:

So we’ve been looking at the way we do things and have come up with some ways to make things better (we hope) and to make this more like a real website with more structured content and more things to do! Starting in the new year we plan to implement a few things:

Firstly:

Regular posting! Monday evening will be “Tame the Board Game Day” with new posts going up once a week every Monday. Unless we’re doing a specific event or its a “Breach the Keep” post which will come as the game develops and I get all the different aspects of it in order ready to actually Give Away! But they will now be separate posts and never added on to the end of anything else.

Secondly:

We’re re-thinking the format of our posts, we aim to make them more accessible by adding a standard structure and also giving aspects of the game a rating as well as giving the game an overall rating.

Thirdly:

A Video Blog! We’re hoping to add a video blog to compliment our existing posts, we will aim of at least one video a month to go with one of the posts in the month. However, this may prove more challenging as we have to find time where both me and my sister are around and ready to film, which is proving hard.

Fourthly:

We will expand into social networking…I really don’t want to do this, as I hate social networking, but it seems to be the way to get places in this day and age so we will be setting up a facebook page at some point in the new year!

But Before All That:

We have a few things to finish this year off. We have two more normal game posts going up before Christmas, then we have the “Twelve Games of Christmas – 2013”  which, for every day of Christmas, we will put up a brief post of a game with the same amount of players as the day… Well up until about seven players then it might just be other games we recommend.

Then we will be doing a “Drinking Games” Special for  New Years eve (of course) to give you something to do at your wild house parties!

That’s all for now, keep reading!

Who’s Morris? – Twelve and Three Men’s Morris Board

2 - 5

Number of Players: 2

Year of Publication: Unknown

Creator(s): Unknown

The most important question you must consider when playing any Morris game, is who was Morris? Now considering it dates back to… God knows when and God knows where, this could be very hard to discover and for more information on this one should view our earlier post here! I like to think Morris was a man who discovered this game while playing Tic Tac Toe drunk…Or high on opium, maybe? If it was first played in China? but I’ll let you formulate your own ideas!

Without Further Ado:

My Twelve and Three Mens Morris Board:

My proudly crafted board!
My proudly crafted board!

I made this myself in the same way I made (and on the back of) my Fanorona board which you can see here and also see the technique for making one.

Why did I make my own I hear you ask? Well I’ll let Ron Swanson form the show Parks and Recreation explain:

(this video will start at the relevant quote but watch the whole thing for the full effect)

Aside from that, versions are expensive and difficult to come by. So when you have a piece of wood, the tools and the know-how, just make one!

Three Men’s Morris:

Now there are different versions of Three Men’s Morris but one of them is exactly the same as Tic Tac Toe, So I made the one that wasn’t (for obvious reasons). Quite possibly the shortest game I have ever played taking literally about a minute to play (like Tic Tac Toe) and coming to an immediate win, lose or draw! However even the version I created, which lacked the diagonals of Tic Tac Toe could still just as easily by played on paper because there is no movement phase like in Nine and Twelve Men’s Morris. So is it worth spending an hour branding a game board for it? Probably not, just variate your games of Tic Tac Toe every once in a while.

Three in a row, just like Tic Tac Toe!
Three in a row, just like Tic Tac Toe!

Twelve Men’s Morris:

This is a game that is much more complex and I’me much happier I went to the effort to make a board for it. With all of the aspects of Nine Men’s Morris but even more to think about (as you have more pieces and diagonals to consider) it can be a quite challenging game. It is played exactly the same as the Nine Men version but with Twelve pieces and a board with diagonals on it. So, you could just draw diagonals onto your Nine Men’s board, or even imagine them! But why do that when you can spend hours with a soldering iron?

A game in mid swing.
A game in mid swing.

I would recommend anyone who’s a fan of Nine Men’s Morris to give this ago or even a fan of Chess or Droughts. Additionally if you don’t want to buy a physically version HERE is a website where you can play all the different versions of all the Morris games either against a computer or a human. Or if you want an excuse to buy a video game under the premise that it has some educational value or at least some strategic thinking value the Morris game in various forms can be found in both Assassins Creed III and Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag so buy them now!

On Another Note – Breach The Keep:

To anyone who cares we ordered the first real print of our very own board game Breach The Keep which you can find more information on here. Hopefully they’re going to look great, they’re being printed in the US and shipped to the UK (because for some insane reason that’s cheaper than just printing them in the UK. So expect pictures and an update on the free games give away some time soon. If all goes to plan the game should be ready to go in less than two months!

But we all know life never goes to plan.

Additionally we’re also planning a video blog to go alongside/be part of this blog. We’re just contemplating structure and formatting and getting hold of equipment etc. But that could happen anytime soon so keep an eye out for that too!

Don’t Rock the Boat – Balance Game – Part 1

1 - 5

Number of Players: Theoretically unlimited

Year of Publication: 2013

Creator(s): Tiger

Unfortunately due to life being… Well, life, having time to play games and time to write about them has been difficult recently, it’s at times like this that I’m quite glad no one cares about this as it means we don’t let anyone down! However we also want people to start caring so any suggestions on how to achieve that would be appreciated.

Anyway, to the point! A very obscure balancing game (or two) purchased from the shop “Tiger” and without more of a name than “Balance Game” (or Balancespil, which I assume is Balance Game in Danish as Tiger is a Dutch company) and instructions that read “Roll the dice and place a brick of the same color as shown on the dice on the tipping moon.” We thought we could do better than this, well we thought they could probably do better than this but apparently some very obvious things to make this game better just never occurred to them!

The contents of the box - One "Tipping Moon", 6 different color sets each with three circular pieces of different sizes and two dice with each of the colors shown on each of its sides.
The contents of the box – One “Tipping Moon”, 6 different color sets each with three circular pieces of different sizes and two dice with each of the colors shown on each of its sides.

So to begin with we played the game the way they suggested, which was good, you could see the potential in the idea and if the box had had an age range on it saying 4 – 10 or something similar I would say the game was perfectly acceptable and needed no help. However it did not and therefore needs lots of help! The fist problem we ran into was that it’s possible to stack all of the pieces onto the “Tipping Moon” without any of them falling off… So no one can win!

The "Tipping Moon" with all the possible pieces on it
The “Tipping Moon” with all the possible pieces on it

So at this point we decided this wasn’t good enough and we could do better! So we tried various versions of the game to find a better way of playing. The first thing we did was get another copy of the game (however the other copy was written off and therefore missing some pieces, but was good enough for our needs).

Variation 1:

We played the standardized version of the game with almost double the amount of pieces – using the second set. This worked much better as it was now impossible to fit them all on so someone had to lose! In fact if they had made the original with four pieces to every color set instead of three this would have sufficed.

The game with another (almost full) set of pieces.
The game with another (almost full) set of pieces.

Variation 2:

So being the adventurous types that we are (board game enthusiasts) and not just happy that we’d found a good version of the game we decided to go even further and assign a value to each piece depending on its size. We tried a few values but found that it works best using 4 for the largest piece, the middle piece as 2 and the smallest as 1. You now roll both the colored die and a standard die together and must place the value of the standard die in the color the other die shows. If you cannot play because there are not enough pieces in that color you re-roll one of the dice and if you still cannot play you re-roll the other die and keep re-rolling until you can play a piece/s.

A standard dice showing a 6 with the color orange so a large piece that equals 5 and small that equals one are added together to make 6. (this was our original attempt at this idea where we used 5, 3 and 1 but found two many 1 pieces where needed.)
A standard dice showing a 6 with the color orange so a large piece that equals 5 and small that equals one are added together to make 6. (this was our original attempt at this idea where we used 5, 3 and 1 but found too many 1 pieces were needed.)

We found this to be a great way of playing which lead to the idea to make a better version of the game altogether! Why have a “tipping moon” when you can have a boat with barrels with numbers indicating their weight on them, and you have to add the weight to the boat and you can call the game “Don’t Rock the Boat” or something to that effect!

Variation 3:

Still not happy that we’d found the best version of the game we continued to make alterations! This time we played the same as before but we made the purple on the dice a wild color meaning you could play any color you wanted and added the purple pieces into the other colors to increase the amount you had to work with. All the other rules still applied!

This we found to be good too as it meant you spent less time re-rolling dice as the game came to the end.

Variation 4:

Now still not happy we decided to scrap the color idea altogether and lose the color dice but keep the weight/value system. So now all pieces were only judged by their weight… Not the color of their skin… Which is a step in the right direction but perhaps not all the way to a harmonious society! In addition we added the idea that you could remove pieces from the boat to make the number. So say you roll a two you can add a large piece that equals four and remove a two piece that’s already on the boat, this adds an addition tactical element to the game as you can change the weight distribution of the boat drastically quite easily. We ruled that you had to place your piece or pieces (up to two per turn) before removing your piece or pieces (up to two per turn). This made the game very interesting, and a lot more fun as you had a “steady hands” Jenga type aspect to the game of removing the other pieces.

Variation 5:

Then finally (happy we had found the best way of playing with one boat or “tipping moon”) we decided to see what would happen if you played with two! We changed the point distribution to make the biggest piece worth eight but keep the others at two and one and kept rolling a single six sided dice and ignoring the colors.  We then made one “tipping moon” a Plus boat and the other a Minus boat and you had to make up the number by adding to both boats but the Plus boat counted towards the number you had to make and the minus counted against so if you rolled a six you could add an eight piece to the Plus boat and a two OR two one pieces to the Minus boat (again a maximum of two pieces could be placed on each boat each turn). The first one to tip either boat lost.

The one on the left is the Minus boat and the one on the right is the Plus boat.
The one on the left is the Minus boat and the one on the right is the Plus boat.

This was very interesting, and requires a very large number of pieces to play properly, but holds great promise!

Don’t or Do Rock the Boat:

After all our experimenting we decided just to make our own version of the game called “Don’t Rock the Boat” OR “Rock the Boat” OR something else if we come up with a better name. (Feel free to throw out suggestions)

We decided our game should be like this:

  1. The “tipping moon” should be a boat and the pieces should be barrels that you have to load onto the boat.
  2. The pieces would have no color classification just weights of 4, 2 and 1 and it would be played with one standard die that would dictate the required weight to be added to the boat.
  3. You could play the game in two variations. One just by adding pieces to make the required weight and two by adding and then taking off barrels to make the required weight.
  4. The loser would be the first one to make pieces fall off the boat, excluding the piece they are placing. Any piece(s) that moved but stayed on the boat didn’t count as a loss.
  5. Additionally we decided that you could make it so if you got two copies of the game you could play it with Plus and Minus boats so we would paint a Plus and Minus on opposite side of the boat so with two sets you could play it how we played in variation 5.

I addition to all of this we decided that there needed to be more of each of the pieces per set so it was impossible to fit them all on the boat. However due to time and horrible things like having to work to live, this wonderful concept for this game has not been made yet but hopefully will get made soon so keep you eyes peeled for “Don’t Rock the Boat – Balance Game – Part 2” post sometime soon… Hopefully, I make no promises as to when!