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June 21, 2003

Favorite Games XI

And now, let us proceed to corner the world currency markets and blame someone else when things go wrong. Sounds like quite a plan.

Who Stole Ed's Pants? is a game of investigating a crime most heinous, finding who committed the foul act, when, and where, so he can be turned over to the Law and Justice can be done. And that is an outright lie. Instead, this is a sweet little game of framing someone for the crime (while others try to frame you), because finding out the truth would be too much work. Though the game, witnesses (6 each in 6 suits, representing professions like Merchants and Circus Performers) allow you to establish suspicions and place blame (if your source is trustworthy enough relative to others'). Suspicions come in the form of Fact and Evidence cards, which use silly details to build a fragile case, just enough to feed the rumors. When all the cards of a type are drawn, the round ends with everyone scoring points for all suspicion currently pointing at them. A second round is played (though facts established in the first are not re-shuffled... so the second round goes a bit quicker than the first), and when that is over whoever has the most suspicion (total of both rounds) is obviously the thief. In the four player game, the player across the table is also locked up as an accomplice. Play is quick and a little goofy, as some of the fact and evidence cards are laughable if considered as "evidence" (you can prove someone "looks like a pirate" by displaying a pet parrot, for example). Lots of play relies on keeping your supporting witnesses sufficiently credible (and, in the four player form, your partner's witnesses as well), and a sudden shift of witness type credibility can change things fairly dramatically. A fun little pass-time for a hour or so, reasonably easily taught (though it's worth reading the rules carefully and playing a round to get a handle on things, as some bits are subtle), and quite replayable. And, under all the silliness, there's a good bit of strategy as you try to manipulate the witnesses and facts to maximize other's supiciousness while minimizing your own.

Money is today's Knizia selection, a deceptively simple game of bidding and gathering cards. There are 7 suits (illustrated as world currencies), each containing 9 cards (3 20s, 3 30s, one each 40, 50 and 60... so not denominations you're likely to see often), gold coins (each worth a constant 10) and "play money" (one card for each player, used to allow bluffing in the bidding). Play consists of each player getting dealt a hand of cards, then 2 available spreads of 4 cards are laid out. All players now bid in secret... Highest bid (total face value of cards played) gets to go first buying what they want... one of the 2 4-card spreads or another player's bid (which can sometimes be nicer). You pick up what you bought and replace it with your bid. After all bidding and buying is done, you refill the 4-card spreads (which may have shrunken if someone bought them with a bid of fewer than 4 cards, as will often happen). When all the cards have been dealt (and one last bidding round completed), you score everyone's hand. As is common with Knizia, scoring is the heart of the game... Each currency is worth its total face value if you have 200 or more in it, or total face less 100 (but never less than zero) if you have less than 200. Any set of all 3 20s or 30s of a suit give a bonus 100. Three full rounds are played to smooth out the luck factor a bit (a mechanic Knizia likes... he praises it highly in his book on dice games). This is a light game, but offers chances for bidding, bluffing, and risk-taking, and so has enough strategic depth to be worth your time. It hurts when you pick the wrong currency to buy up early (Knizia also likes games where you need to bid on things before you really know what they're worth)... but when you get it right, the points reward you. This one just works.

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Who Stole Ed's Pants

Posted by ghoul at June 21, 2003 06:49 AM

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