s skippy the bush kangaroo: I Like Playing Games, But...

skippy the bush kangaroo

Sunday, December 12, 2010

I Like Playing Games, But...

I'm old-school. I have no use for Wii, 360, or any of that crap. I prefer the kind of games you can keep playing when a thunderstorm knocks out your power. These are just some of those games: backgammon, chess, Monopoly, Yahtzee, Sudoku, mah-jongg, Uno, poker, blackjack, Risk, hangman, Othello, Scrabble, dominoes, Chinese checkers, and Skip-Bo. I could play these games all day -- and, once in a rare while, I actually do. (Two games I don't like: regular checkers and mancala -- the first because it's boring as hell compared to Chinese checkers, and the second because I really suck at it.)

But I love my Internet, too, so it's not unusual for me to play those games online in my free time. I like these sites: Addicting Games, Pogo, Miniclip, Gamehouse, and Splashworks. They're all good, they offer all kinds of games like the ones I've mentioned, variants on those, and totally different ones to choose from. I recommend them to everyone.

But lately, I've been spending an inordinate amount of time at another game site, King. The games they host there -- good Lord, are they difficult to play. Most of King's games are timed, and that's a small part of what makes them difficult to play. The big part is in their very design -- they are easy to learn, but absolutely f#&king impossible to master.

I love that.

You want to know what I mean? Play Letter Swap ten times, and you'll see what I mean. (You'll have to create an account and wait through authentication and advertisements to access it, but that's King for you.) I have a love-hate thing going on with that game right now. How to play...

You have a four-by-four grid of sixteen letters to work with. These letters are randomly selected in advance, in much the same way you would select tiles while playing Scrabble -- you have no idea what you're gonna get until you see what you've got. And now that I think of it, Letter Swap and Scrabble have a couple other things in common: you're likely to have two or more of the same letter (I recently played a Letter Swap round with six O's, much to my irritation), and every letter has an assigned point value (Q and Z are the most valuable -- if you can use them).

Unlike Scrabble, though, you have to use the same sixteen letters from start to finish. What you do is select two of them to trade positions in the grid in order to form three- or four-letter words, either vertically or horizontally. If you manage to use one or more letters in both vertical and horizontal fashion in a single turn, you get a bonus for that letter or letters -- and that's the key to getting as high a final score as possible. So you kind of have to study the grid before you make any moves -- knowing, as I've mentioned, that you are being timed. You don't have all afternoon to get this done, you gotta make up your mind right quick.

Oh, and you only get five turns.

Have fun...


posted by Jim Yeager at 7:35 AM |


Board games leave me bored. "Oh, look! I got a seven. I land on this spot. Gee, golly, I wonder what this card will say. Oh my word, I have to go back two spaces. Will I ever reach that space at the end of this long line of spaces?"
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