Friday, April 30, 2010

Thirty Day Challenge: Day Eighteen

Favorite Board Game

Hmmmm. We haven't played many board games of late here at Casa Jaquandor; this is something that needs rectified. We still have never played the RISK or Settlers of Catan games that I bought almost a year ago; we gotta dust those off. RISK is lots of fun.

You know what, though? My favorite board game of the "Parker Bros" or "Milton Bradley" variety is probably Sorry. I used to play Sorry all the time with my grandmother when I was a kid and she was in town to visit, and The Daughter and I have often had a great time playing it.

Sorry, for those who haven't played it, is a "Move your piece from Point A to Point B before your opponent does" type of game. What's different is that you don't have one piece but four, so you have to manage your resources a bit. Gameplay is determined not by dice but by drawing from a deck of cards; each card tells you what to do. The name of the game comes from its "revenge" factor: since the object is to move your pieces from your "Start" space all the way around the board to your "Home" space, it stinks when something happens to send one of your pieces all the way back to Start. This happens when one of your opponent's pieces lands on the same space as yours, or when your opponent draws the dreaded "SORRY!" card from the deck.

It's a surprisingly strategic game; you have to make decisions as you go -- do you take advantage of an opportunity to knock one of your opponent's pieces back to Start, possibly buying time or just getting even for when they did it to you, or do you advance your own toward Home? The game's system of play is also loaded with little quirks -- you can only move a piece out of Start on a draw of 1 or 2; if you get a 2 you get to draw again; all cards marked 4 make you move backward 4, so if you're lucky enough to start a piece from Start on a 2 and then draw a Backward-4 on your bonus draw, your piece basically circumvents the entire navigation of the board except for eight measly spaces. A 7 card is unique in that you're allowed to split the move between two pieces. There are no 6s or 9s. A 10 card either lets you move 10, or backward 1. An 11 either lets you move 11 spaces, or switch places with one of your player's pieces. And a 12 is a whopper of a card that allows you to chew up large amounts of the path around the board.

What I always found really cool about Sorry was that whenever I played The Daughter, the game was always close. There were games when she would literally have two pieces all the way around the board and Home before I even had two pieces out of Start, and yet by the end, when the game came to an end, with the winner placing all four pieces into the "Home" space, the loser would have three pieces Home and one very close. I never once played a Sorry blow-out.

So that's Sorry. Time was when The Daughter and I played a lot more board games than we do now; we should probably revisit those days. Before Sorry we had Chutes and Ladders, and before that, of course, there was Candyland, which was maddening in the fact that once the deck is shuffled and gameplay begins, there is literally zero factor of chance in the game; the course of the game is already determined by the order of the cards and all you're doing is unmasking them, one by one, until you learn who wins. (Unless, of course, the initial shuffle results in a scenario whereby the entire deck is drawn before someone has won. Then you shuffle again. But as far as chance goes in Candyland, that's it.)

Let's see, what other board games do I like? Othello is fun. So is Tri-ominoes. Monopoly is literally only fun if you have lots of people playing it, and even then, I've never once played a game of it to completion; every Monopoly game I've ever played ended when a critical mass of people said, "You know, I think I'd rather go dust the fireplace now." As a family we used to play Trivial Pursuit a lot. I'm not sure if it counts as a board game, but my father and I used to have a good time playing Mastermind.

Ultimately, though, my real favorite board game is good old chess. Too bad I'm not very good at it.


Kaye Waller said...

I absolutely love Mastermind. I'm not very good at Chess either, and we play a l-o-t of Scrabble.

Roger Owen Green said...

You are ABSOLUTELY RIGHT about SORRY. Lydia will try to keep one of her pieces near START in hopes of a backwards 4, which suddenly puts her very near home. In fact she'll take a 10 as a backwards 1 sometimes to achieve this, and often enough will succeed at this.
She is 6, and I play her straight up.
A variation on the rules, where you have one already on the start, speeds up the game a bit.
Sometimes she plays with her "sisters", her stuffed animals, with her controlling the moves of one and me the other. I HAVE come in 3rd and 4th or 2nd and 4th more than once.
There is an author named Jeff Sharlet, born in 1972. I worked with his late mother Nancy in 1978, and my favorite recollection of him is playing SORRY and LOSING to a six-year old!