Saturday, January 12, 2008

Gaming With Grandma - 47

My mother (Grandma to our kids) popped over for a cup of tea and our regular Saturday morning gaming session. We were joined by my daughters Maddie (6.5) and Georgia (almost 2). Maddie wanted to play a new game Mummy (my wife Deb) had recently purchased for AU$5.00 from a thrift store - Electronic Whac-A-Mole.

This game can be played with 1 to 4 players and can be set for varying degrees of difficulty. Each player is assigned their own mole and takes a plastic mallet. The multi-player game begins with a mole voice stating each player's 'sound' which they must listen for. Then the game begins and every second or so a random player's sound will be made and the corresponding mole's helmet will light up. The player then has a brief moment to whack their mole on the head before another player's mole's helmet lights up.

"Die, mole, die!"

It's fun and Maddie loves it but I couldn't see myself playing more than a couple of times in a row. At the end of the game the mole tells each player their score. I came first with 100, Maddie 2nd with 90 and Grandma 3rd with 80. Georgia had wanted to whack some moles so we let her go for it as we were setting up the next game.

Our next game was one we hadn't played in a while - Money, Money, Money. This is an interesting game which comes with what's got to be the sturdiest bag I've ever seen! I think it's made out of canvas. There are 77 plastic coins within the bag. They comprise of 17 each of yellow, red, blue and green stackable coins numbered $1-$16 plus a 'wild' coin, and also 9 white 'instruction' coins.

The final combined stacks. Can't get that ABBA song out of my head...

Each player attempts to collect the most coins and stack them according to colour in front of him. On a player's turn they guess either 'higher' or 'lower'. They then draw a coin from the bag. They then compare the value and colour of the coin they've drawn to the topmost coin in the stack of the same colour as the coin just drawn. If they guessed correctly they place the coin on the top of the same coloured stack and continue. If they guessed incorrectly they put the coin back in the bag and their turn ends. Obviously, at the start when a player does not have any coins their first guess will automatically be correct because they have no coins with which to compare the first drawn coin. However, as a player builds stacks and has a stack in each colour the ease of guessing becomes more difficult. For example, your yellow and red stacks may have low numbers on their tops but your green and blue stacks may have high numbers on their tops. This is where your memory may help to recall what numbers were drawn and are now hidden within other player's stacks or you can base your guess on how many of a certain colour have already been drawn by looking at all the stacks on the table. When all the coins have been used, each player joins his four stacks together and the winner is the player with the tallest stack (or most coins). The 9 white coins throw a little randomness into the game (e.g. 'miss a turn', 'collect coins', 'lose coins'). Grandma made some great guesses to win on 29, Maddie came 2nd on 20 and I came 3rd on 19.

Our next game was G.I. Joe - Live the Adventure. This is a game we haven't played for quite some time. That's probably because I'd moved it from our dining room game cabinet to a downstairs cupboard in the hope that it would fade into obscurity in the memory of the children of this house. Alas, it was not to be so. While Maddie was rummaging through the game cabinet she asked "Where's that G.I. Joe game?" Downstairs I had to go.

"Die, Joe, Die!"

In this roll-and-move game players take turns rolling a die and moving a single G.I. Joe token around a circular board. Most spaces consist of a "battle" with a Cobra soldier. Battles are resolved by the active player and an opponent of his/her choosing each playing one of two cards. If the active player wins he receives a Badge of Honor. The first player to earn 6 Badges of Honor is victorious. Grandma was the luckiest with her rolls to win with 6 badges, Maddie came 2nd with 2 and myself 3rd with 0.

After that game Maddie wanted to go into her room to play so said that Grandma and I could continue without her. For our next game I chose Rack-O. My wife had picked this up at a garage sale for AU$3.00 back on 27 January last year and it was as yet unplayed. There is a deck of cards numbered 1 to 60 and a plastic tray in which they sit. Each player (from 2 to 4) has a plastic rack which sits in front of them and holds 10 cards. The aim is to be the first player to accumulate 500 points. Each round consists of the dealer dealing 10 cards to each player. In a two player game only the cards 1 to 40 are used. As each player receives one of the initial 10 cards they must put them in the rack in order from the back to the front. This will mean you'll most certainly have a range of cards mixed in value ranging from the back of the rack to the front. The aim is to get the cards in any numerical order from the front (lowest) to the back (highest).

The Rack-O racks make great card holders

After the initial 10 cards have been dealt the deck is placed face down on one side of the plastic card holder which sits within reach of the players. The top card of the deck is turned over and placed face up in the other side of the card holder to start the discard deck. On a player's turn they may either choose the top card of the face up discard deck and then must exchange it with one card in their rack, or they may choose the top card of the face down draw deck and may exchange the card with one card in their rack (if they choose not to exchange the card it goes face up on the discard deck). So, each turn by choosing and exchanging cards both players try to go Rack-O by getting all their cards in any numerical order from lowest to highest. When a player goes Rack-O they get 75 points. The other players get 5 points for every card in any numerical order from lowest to highest. When counting these cards they stop receiving 5 points as soon as they reach a card that is not in numerical order.

It took us 9 rounds for one player to achieve 500 points. Grandma won 540 to my 435. This is a fun game which feels a little like Lost Cities in having to choose which card to exchange because as that card goes to the discard deck it could be used by your opponent to their advantage. There is also the similarity of waiting for a certain card to appear. There's also the difficult choice of deciding where within your rack you will place a certain card. All in all it's a decent game which I'm sure we'll play again. We may reduce the victory level to say 300 or 350 for a two player game next time though.

On a side note I just noticed that all of the games played today were purchased second-hand from various garage sales, thrift stores, flea markets or school fetes.

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