Elen sila lumenn omentielvo!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Candyland? Again???

Patrick Rothfuss on the game Candyland:

He’s bored because the game is tedious. And it’s tedious because there is no skill involved. You draw a card, you look at a card, you match a color, you move your piece.

Games that involve no skill are not good games.

Yesterday, after months of not playing, we brought out the game again and took another crack at it. Because he wanted to, and he asked nicely. And I can deal with some tedium if it makes him happy.

But we changed the game a little bit. We added a house rule where you drew two cards and got to pick which one you wanted.

With this small change, Candy Land became an actual game.

Sure there was still a huge random element to it, but now there was some skill as well. You had to make decisions.

Oh, why the hell didn't I ever think of that?

You see, the problem with Candyland is that, aside from shuffling the cards, there is no random element to it at all.

It's a "start here and first one to get there wins" game. But instead of rolling a die or spinning a spinner, you draw cards. The cards have colors on them, and the game board is a path laid out in blocks the same colors as are on the cards. So if you draw a red card, you advance your piece to the next red square. There are a couple "double" cards, which move you forward two squares of that color. And there are a couple of spaces where you lose your turn.

The problem is that once you shuffle the deck and start game play, literally all you are doing is playing out the sequence of cards. There are no choices to make, no element of chance whatsoever. Your route through the game board is already determined, and all you're doing is unveiling it, one card at a time. It may seem like there's chance involved, but that's an illusion, simply because you don't know what's going to happen. It's like seeing a movie: you may have no idea at all what the story is, but there is exactly one scene that can be happening at, say, the fifty-five minute mark. It's the same thing in Candyland. The only way for the game to include an element of chance is for the first arrangement of the deck to line up in such a way that it doesn't bring any of the players to the end, in which case you have to reshuffle. But that's it: as soon as you start drawing cards again, you're right back to simply playing out a drama.

But here, Mr. Rothfuss has made one teeny-tiny change that introduces a whole new element to the game. It might have actually been fun, as such.

Damn. I wish I'd thought of that.


Roger Owen Green said...

We play to the end and back to the beginning, which is a little better.

fillyjonk said...

Heh. The comment about being a game of "no skill" could equally be applied to Bunco, a dice game much-loved by many women in my general area. (A group I belong to devotes one of its monthly meetings to the game. As I'm an officer, I don't feel like I can skip, but: I REALLY HATE BUNCO.)

So: Bunco: Candyland for adults. And that's how I'm going to think of it from now on.