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

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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!

To Catch a Criminal – Scotland Yard and Some Chairess

From the Depths of The Less Obscure Than we Thought:

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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!