Cambio

4 - 5

Number of Players: 2 – 3

Year of Publication: 1996

Creator(s): Maureen Hiron

IMAG3069

 

Video:

Cambio, similarly to Quarto!, is a complicated or ‘thinking mans version’ of Tic-Tac-Toe (Naughts and Crosses).  For this review we’ve done another video. The video covers all our normal sections except ‘History and Interesting Things’ so check it out below:

History and Interesting Things:

There are only a couple of notable things about this game and they are:

  1. The game was invented by Maureen Hiron in 1996. She is a very successful game inventor and know for inventing several other games including: 7 Ate 9, Continuo and Qwitch.
  2. The word Cambio means exchange.

To Conclude:

Like we say in the video we like this game, the design of our specific issue of it could be better but apart from that its a fun and fairly simple strategy game thats not too long to play but not so fast you miss what just happened.

Quarto!

4.5 - 5

Number of Players: 2

Year of Publication: 1991

Creator(s): Blaise Muller

 Video:

Quarto! is complicated Connect Four and for this review we’ve done a video, our first real video review! The video covers all our normal sections except ‘History and Interesting Things’ so check it out below:

History and Interesting Things:

There are only a couple of notable things about this game and they are:

  1. The game was invented in 1991 by Swiss mathematician Blaise Müller.
  2. It has won the following awards:

To Conclude:

Like we say in the video, we like this game a lot! My only issue with it is retaining enough concentration to keep in check all of the eight different piece attributes that could create a line. However I would highly recommend this game and if you like games that range from Connect Four to Chess then you will most probably love this game.

Go!

3 - 5

Number of Players: 2

Year of Publication: Unknown

Creator: Unknown

Strategist? Don’t Plan Wars, Play Go!

Go is a strategic two player game which dates back some 3-4,000 years in age. It’s got initially very simple rules, but will probably take me the rest of my life to get anywhere close to good at it as it requires a dimension of thought I don’t believe I currently possess. I was introduced to it by a friend back in September, she tried to teach me the basics in a pub one evening, using a Chess Board and Draughts pieces. Needless to say, the outcome was a little interesting and involved me losing spectacularly and being completely confused for quite a while.

My copy of Go, the box is very 80's...
Our copy of Go, the box is very 80’s…

What’s in the Box:

As you can see, the contents of the box, is thoroughly unexciting.
As you can see, the contents of the box is thoroughly unexciting.

Inside the box you’ll usually find:

  1. A board (I have acquired two boards for the game, as the one in the box is bent, and therefore, given the size of the pieces, fundamentally useless).
  2. The instructions, very handy for the point when you realize you’ve been playing one of the rules wrong for the entire game.
  3. 180 white playing pieces.
  4. 181 black playing pieces.

Playing the Game:

Objective: To surround empty areas of the board and capture your opponents pieces.

This is what our board looked like at the end of the game, for anyone who plays Go properly, it probably looks horrendous as this is only the third time i've played this game
This is what our board looked like at the end of the game, (you can’t really see the white pieces, but they are there) for anyone who plays Go properly, it probably looks horrendous as this is only the third time i’ve played this game

The Rules:

  • Players move by playing stones on the intersections on the board with Black playing first.
  • Once a stone has been played on the board it cannot then be moved unless it is captured – captured stones are removed from the board.
  • To capture a stone the opposing player must closely surround it, cutting of all its “liberties”. Liberties are the four lines extending out from the intersection a piece is played on. If all four of these are blocked on the next closest intersection, that piece is captured.
Three pieces placed in different locations on the board. Their Liberties are marked with small X's. This shows which lines must be blocked to capture a piece.
Three pieces placed in different locations on the board. Their Liberties are marked with small X’s. This shows which lines must be blocked to capture a piece.
  • Once a space like this has been created it is called an Eye, the space in the middle of the Eye cannot be played on by the other colour player, as this move is suicidal – your piece would be captured as soon as it had been placed – however, in the event that playing this piece caused one of your opponents pieces to be captured, thus freeing up one of the Liberties for the piece in the centre of the Eye this move becomes legal.
Here white has made three successful Eyes, the spaces in the middle cannot now be played in by black.
Here White has made three successful Eyes, the spaces in the middle cannot now be played in by Black.
Now black can play inside whites Eye because the move would result in capturing the left hand white piece, thus creating a new Liberty for the played piece
Now Black can play inside Whites Eye because the move would result in capturing the left hand white piece, thus creating a new Liberty for the played piece
  • Stones played on the edge of the board only have three Liberties and can be captured in the same way as other pieces.
  • A player can create an Army by playing one of their stones on the Liberty of another of their pieces, these are now connected and to capture them you must block all of their combined Liberties.
  • Armies can be continually extended by connecting Liberties but it’s important to note that diagonal connections do not count.
Here white has created two armies, although they are next to each other, the diagonal on which they are connected doesn't count
Here White has created two armies, although they are next to each other, the diagonal on which they are connected doesn’t count.
  • Once a player has created an Army, their opponent cannot take individual pieces, the Army must be captured as an entire unit, or not at all.
  • Any Army that encloses an empty space on the board must also be captured from the inside, once all external Liberties have been surrounded the capturing player must play a stone on the available intersection(s) inside the Army to remove it from the board.
White has completely surrounded Blacks army, all they need now do is play one piece in the remaining space inside the army.
White has completely surrounded Blacks army, all they need now do is play one piece in the remaining space inside the army.
  • If a position is reached where one player acknowledges that there are some stones on the board that cannot avoid being captured, their opponent can remove these stones as prisoners at the end of the game without needing to further occupy their Liberties, this can only happen if both players agree.
  • Ending the Game: Theoretically a player can pass a turn, by handing over one piece from their unplayed stock to their opponent as a prisoner. Once both player pass in succession, the game is over. However, in practice, the game usually reaches a point where all available territory has been securely surrounded by one player or the other and there can be no dispute about whether or not any groups of stones can still be captured. Now the game ends by mutual agreement, and points are scored to determine who wins.
  • Scoring Points: points are scored by counting up the number of empty intersections left on the board surrounded by each colour. Captured pieces also give a bonus of one point each and these two scores added together determine the winner.
  • Illegal Moves: There are only two illegal moves in Go; The “Suicide Rule” and the “Rule of Ko”. The Suicide Rule forbids a player to place a piece in a location that would cause it to immediately be captured, as I said before. The Rule of Ko is much more interesting, “Ko” is a Japanese word meaning “eternity”, this rule was invented to prevent the game reaching stalemate. This rule forbids a player to move in a way that leaves the board in exactly the same position as his or her previous move.

Strategy:

Go is essentially a tactical game, and therefore probably not one i’m going to excel at any time soon, but it is very interesting to consider the different angles of play. Interestingly, games like this (and also Chess) can reveal a lot about a person. Whether you play defensively, aggressively or recklessly, it can be a challenge to restrain your natural instinct towards your chosen method of going about things in the interest of actually winning the game.
Having played the game so few times there’s not much I can give in the way of tactics, but there is one type of play that’s so well-known and used that it’s more or less become a standing play, something that features in every game.

INVULNERABLE ARMIES:
If one player has managed to create an Army, and there is an empty space inside this Army, they may intentionally place pieces inside the Army to create Eyes there. If a player manages to create an Army with two or more Eyes in the centre, this Army cannot be taken, as placing any piece here would be suicide and there is no way to simultaneously cut off all its Liberties.

Because Blacks army has two Eyes, there are now no circumstances under which it can be captured.
Because Blacks army has two Eyes, there are now no circumstances under which it can be captured.

History and Interesting Things:

  1. Although the game is thought to have originated in China it became really popular in Japan, where, in the early 17th Century, stipends were awarded to the four strongest Go players, by the Shogun. These were then later extended to their heirs, and so the four Go schools; Honinbo, Hayashi, Inoue and Yasue were founded.
  2. Over the following 250 years the four Go schools encouraged such rivalry that a ranking system was set up with nine grades of Go player, the highest of which is Meijin, meaning “expert”. This title was only held by one person, and only achieved if one player managed to out-class all their contemporaries.
  3. Meijin Dosaku is considered the best Go player in history, and was the fourth head of the Honinbo school, which was easily the most successful of the four, producing more Meijins than the other three schools put together.
  4. In 1868 professional Go was undermined in Japan as the Shogunate collapsed and the Emperor was returned to power.
  5. A game of Go once decided the future of Tibet when the Buddhist ruler at the time refused to engage in a battle and instead challenged the aggressor to a game of Go.
  6. Go is followed as avidly in the Far East as sporting competitions are in the West, professional players from Japan, Korea, China and Taiwan become national heroes in their home countries.
  7. By 500 BC in China, Go was already one of the “Four Accomplishments” that had to be mastered by a Chinese gentleman.
  8. In Europe the game was not played at all, despite having been described and written about by European travellers going to the Far East, until 1880.
  9. Britain has been playing Go for at least 100 years now, and currently our top ranking player is Matthew Macfayden (not to be confused with actor Matthew Macfadyen)
  10. Prior to the last 20 years, games of Go  were rarely played between Go masters of different nationalities, the game has been advancing hugely in recent years, in part thanks to the internet, there are many servers for Go players of all levels now, encouraging the continued growth of the game worldwide.

For the Super-Interested…

So that’s the end of this somewhat lengthy post about Go. It currently rates 3/5, not because it’s anything less than a brilliantly concieved game, but because the tactical development involved in learning to play the game is complicated, and I think that to play well, one would actually have to study the game. So learning it is quite an undertaking, for the willing individual.

If anyone’s interested enough to actually want to learn how to play this game properly (something that i’m now trying to achieve), you could watch this video:

Further Reading:

Here’s where you’ll find all my history points, and more!

And HERE is where i’m trying to improve my limited ability to play this game!

OSKA

 

4 - 5 Strike Thro

3 - 5

Number of Players: 2

Year of Publication: 1995

Creator(s): Bryn Jones and Michael Woodward Creations (Designers), artists are unknown

Steven…Sorry, I Mean OSKA:

While this months theme is “Old (usually) Wooden Games” OSKA doesn’t exactly fit that theme. It really all comes down to your idea of old, if you’re ten years old and 1995 seems like “FOREVER AGO” and “BEFORE I WAS EVEN BORN!” then OSKA is old, but if this is not the case then there’s every chance you remember 1995 and so it doesn’t seem that old. It does have an earlier history than its publication but that still only dates back to the 1950s, which some of you also may possibly be able to remember. See the history section for more information.

Our copy of OSKA with borrowed Pieces.
Our copy of OSKA using borrowed pieces.

What’s in the Box:

A picture lovingly borrowed from www.boardgamegeek.com just to show you what a real complete copy would look like.
A picture lovingly borrowed from www.boardgamegeek.com just to show you what a real complete copy would look like.

In a normal OSKA box you find:

  1. One wooden board
  2. Eight pieces. Four red and four blue.
  3. And it should have an instruction booklet to remove any ambiguity about the brief instructions on the back of the box, (see section “Playing the Game) but there isn’t one.

However our copy came from a charity shop (one of the best places to buy games if you were unaware of this). So in the box there was just the board with no pieces! So we borrowed four white and four brown pieces from a game of  Draughts!

Playing the Game:

Normally here I would give a brief outline of the rules but as the rules to OSKA are already brief I have copied exactly what it says on the back of the box:

OSKA is a speedy game for 2 players which is deceptively simple, using the Draughts (checkers) principle of diagonal movement and capture. BUT – keep well in mind the quirk that gives OSKA its bite. The winner is the player whose remaining pieces first reach the far side – the less pieces you have left, the easier this will be. The skill lies in when, or if, to capture, and when to force your opponent to capture you.”

The big problem with this set of rules is that there are more than one set of rules to Draughts. For example in English Draughts you can only take diagonally forwards (unless you are using a king) but in International Draughts it allows you to take diagonally backward. I have assumed that it meant the English Draughts; firstly because it initially refers to it as Draughts rather than Checkers and secondly, because OSKA was invented in England.

So let’s just clarify the rules:
  1. You set up your four pieces on the back row like this:

    Start Positions!
    Start Positions!
  2. We played white moves first but you could play either way, and if you’re playing with red and blue pieces you could play whoever is set up on the white section moves first.
  3. You move one pieces diagonally, the the other player does the same.

    The Game after one move each.
    The Game after one move each.
  4. You take a piece by jumping it, so this can only be done forwards and so long as the space the other side of it is empty. You do not HAVE to take as the rules state “when, or if, to capture”.
  5. The winner is the first one to have ALL of their REMAINING pieces to the other side, so if all of their pieces are taken except one and they get that one to the other side before the other player gets all four of their pieces across, they win.

    Winning!
    Winning!
Rules We Assumed:
  1. We rationally assumed that in the scenario that all your pieces are taken you’ve lost.
  2. We also assumed that if you both ended up with the same number of pieces in the end zone at the same time it was a draw. This CAN occur if one player while moving its last (or only piece) into the end zone takes the other players only piece that’s not in the end zone. However this is unlikely to occur, as in that scenario you can choose to move into the end zone without taking.
  3. We also assumed that if a similar scenario occurred and one person had more pieces than the other in the end zone they won.
A Little Help:

Just to help we filmed a video of the game play of OSKA to help clarify. Here it is! Our very first video blog… Sort of. Our real video blogs will happen when we get a much better camera but it’s a start!

Strategy:

Now while the game is simple (once you’ve clarified the rules) and fast, there’s a lot that could be said about the strategy. For starters you cannot afford to make mistakes, I know this can be said for almost all games but one mistake in OSKA and the other person most often enters a state where they can’t be beaten because all series of moves that follow result in their victory!

The key to the game, I believe, lies in forcing the other person to take you. You can create a series of plays where they have no option but to take you because they have no other available moves. And once you start to lose pieces you have an easier job than they do as you have less pieces to get across the board.

I could go on about strategy and start drawing diagrams and things of this nature (as that how “into” this game I have got, a game that less than a month ago I was unaware existed). But I will spare you all, however, in the future I may write a specific post on the dynamics and maths of the game, which everyone can feel free not to read.

History and Interesting Facts:

Unfortunately due to the obscurity of this game the history and fasts that are about to follow are mostly off the back of the box as there’s not much more information on the game out there. Which is a shame as it’s a good game.

  1.  The game was originally devised by Bryn Jones in the 1950s.
  2. Bryn Jones was a miner so the game was originally played scratched into the dust on the floor of a mine at Lancashire Coalfields to pass time at breaks.
  3. In the early 1990s Bryn brought the game to Michael Woodward Creations.
  4. Woodward Creations annotated the rules and refined it into the more presentable format you find it in now.
  5. It can now be found as part of The Inventors Collection which is a gathering of games and puzzles from the worlds top game inventors.
  6. The game is made of eco-friendly wood.
  7. It can be considered as part of the Draughts family of games.
  8. Not really a surprise if you’ve read the post above, but the rules are ambiguous which unfortunately takes away from a very good and very fast game.

To Conclude:

This may come as little surprise to you (if you have read the above), I like this game! I’m a huge fan of Chess (as most sane people are) and similarly simplistic but complex at the same time strategy games make me happy. However as far as I’m aware there is no game as perfect as Chess and probably never will be. But OSKA falls into the category of games that are in the right ball park when it comes to your basic strategy game. I would even proclaim that it has a one up on Draughts as I maintain Draughts is too large and long a game to have such simplicity, in short it can become boring, which is why to every 100 Chess matches I have played I’ve probably only played half a Draughts game. This is where OSKA hits the nail on the head, its taken the same idea as Draughts and made it small, fast and above all FUN!

The biggest flaw I find with this game is the ambiguity of the rules and their phrasing. I am slightly ashamed to admit that we played the game wrong in two different ways before finally re-re-re-reading the paragraph on the back of the box and breaking it down to create clarity. First time round we missed the word “remainder” so we where playing first one to get one piece across…This version of the game is ridiculously flawed because the person who moves first (providing they’re not an idiot) will ALWAYS win! We also played that you HAVE to capture if you can capture and even after we started paying attention to the “remaining pieces” section of the rules we still failed to notice the “when, or if, to capture” phrase that implies you do not HAVE to capture. Anyway once we had figured it all out this game is a 4 out of 5 however the amount of time we wasted playing it wrong reduces it to a 3 out 5 (hence the top scoring). It could be argued that us playing it wrong is our own fault but I maintain the rules are needlessly ambiguous and if you don’t know what Draughts is they’re impossible to follow!

Additionally if anyone would like to buy the game check out HERE! – keep in mind this link is to an eBay sale so it won’t always be valid but it’s valid at the time of publication and will hopefully either be updated or removed when it stops being valid.

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.