Saturday, July 14, 2007

Day tripping - with games

A friend recently told me my posts here (and elsewhere) were very 'suburban'. Here's another one for you, Jon :)

Winter School holidays are here and that meant it was time for me and Biggie to have a Big Outing somewhere. This week, it was Sovereign Hill - a recreation of an 1850s central Victorian goldfields town, and a favourite place for us all to visit.

Unbeknownst to the Bigster, though, the attraction these holidays was not the opportunity to go down t'pit and into the mines, but SNOW! The operators trucked in snow from Mount Buller, some 200 kms away, to create a giant snow slide and to give some snow play opportunities. In addition, snow machines created "snowfalls" every hour or so up and down Main Street. (This wasn't 'real' fake snow though - it looked like teeny tiny bubbles).

The drive up was peaceful - Biggie speculating on how many mine tours we could squeeze in, while I listened to the most recent Metagamers podcast - featuring Gerald and Jim (Linnaeus and ekted) discussing my favourite game ever, The Princes of Florence. Biggie would intervene every so often to ask why they said something, or to complain (sorry guys) that it was boring and she wanted to listen to the Winx Club soundtrack songs instead. Now there's intellectual stimulation for you.

Biggie in the snow
We arrived just in time for Biggie's first snowfall, followed by a visit to the "snowfields". Cold white and fluffy was definitely the order of the day, and we didn't get down the mines at all.

Biggie's favourite moment? The Giant Snowslide.
My favourite moment? Hot chocolate - inside :)

The volunteers were advertising a show of "parlour games" - 19th century boardgames - in the Mechanics' Institute, so we hurried to get there. Now I'm a big fan of Sovereign Hill, and I'm a big supporter of volunteer effort - but I think this little exhibition could have had a bit more thought put into it. The volunteers were able to describe how to play two of the five or so games that were laid out, although their knowledge of knucklebones (which we called jacks when I was a little girl) was a tad shaky. The other games? No idea - and they looked strangely at Biggie when she wanted to fiddle with the pieces and try to work out how to play.

No matter though - one of the games was dynamite. I cannot imagine why no-one is (as far as I know) producing a commercial version of Shove Ha'penny - it's one of the more interesting dexterity games I have played.

Shove Ha'penny board
The wooden board features a barrier/built-up section at one end, and a series of (9?) sections along the board, each just a little wider than the eponymous penny/ha'penny.

To play, players hang three pennies (or ha'pennies) off the end of the board and then give them a shove. The object is to get your penny to stop between two of the lines - that is, completely within one of the sections and not overlapping at all. There is a blackboard/slate section along each side, and the goal appears to be to get a mark in each of the 9 delineated sections along the blackboard.

Biggie and I played this until we felt we were expected to stop, and we had a great time. I was trying to bounce my pennies off the backboard and back onto the rows, while she was trying to score some of the earlier rows.
Biggie - and volunteers - at Shove ha'penny
I would love to get my own copy of this game - and I think my mum still has a tin of old pennies at home, if we get tired of playing with 20 cent pieces.

Back home at the end of the day, we headed out to the local malaysian restaurant for dinner. Otto coloured in, while Biggie entertained me and Fraser with a description of what she knew about Princes of Florence.

Here's what she had to say today when I asked her to recap:

There are three main strategies. I can only remember two.
  • Cheap – he or she always buys cheap things. The cheap player may also get Jesters, but cheaply.

  • Mad Jester – loves to get Jesters, to get works and from that he gets points that you can transform into money. The Mad Jester player would willingly give up at least 1000 Fluoros, so that they can get a Jester. The player that is using the strategy of “Mad Jester” has an advantage in the game.

Three types of landscapes:
  • Forest is the cheapest but more people tend to use forests. The two smallest buildings in the game have forests.

  • Park has the most value though not many people tend to use that landscape
  • And lake is in the middle.

Buildings may not touch each other.

In your hand, you have types of personalities. When you choose artists, you try to get an artist with those kinds of personalities.

There are seven rounds in the game. In the first round, there is the number 7 involved. In number 5, it’s 15 and in round 7 it’s 17.

The least you can get anything for is 200 Fluoros.

Usually it would take at least one round to get money out of the works.

Mum was mentioned because she plays Princes of Florence a lot on BSW.

Each player has one courtyard to build in.

You try and get as many people into your hand as possible.

Mum, do you get GeekGold for blogs? Because if you did, that wouldn’t be fair, it should come to me if I wrote it.

In fairness, she did call them Florins on Thursday night. I just used Fluoros cos she said it today and it was cute. And her BGG ID is - apparently - DaughterTheElder (Fraser set it up, and Biggie was already taken).

Do you think I should tip her?


Happy gaming!

- Melissa


Anonymous said...

That penny game does indeed look interesting although pretty difficult to gauge how hard to shoot... you should get to knock opponent's pennies out of the way crokinole-style, heh.

I'm confused by the snow, was it fake snow, or real snow being distributed fakely, or something else entirely, so I gather snow isn't common there despite it being winter?

That's quite a memory for Princes of Florence, impressive... I like the microbadge, so I guess she plays games with herself, heh... you should set up DaughterTheYounger for down the road, before it gets taken :-p

Melissa said...

It was hard to determine how hard to shoot with the first coin - but you do 3 at a time, so you can gauge whether to hit harder or more softly. I was averaging 1 hit for every 3 tries, which isn't great but suggests that the skill can be learned.

The snow - there were two kinds. There was real snow (for snowballs and snow slide) and fake snow (falling in main street).

It does snow in the mountains in Winter, but not in the cities (I think Tasmania may be an exception here). Very occasionally there may be a brief snowfall in an outer suburb and it makes news - I vaguely remember getting to leave the classroom for 5 minutes or so in 1982 because there were a few snowflakes, but the snow all melted before it hit the ground.

Fraser said...

Thomas said I like the microbadge, so I guess she plays games with herself, heh... you should set up DaughterTheYounger for down the road, before it gets taken :-p
Daughter the Elder plays games with Daughter the Younger as well as with us, our friends and her classmates, so it seemed apt.

Re DaughterTheYounger, I'm way ahead of you, I registed them both on the same day :-)

Anonymous said...

Sorry, it's time to take this blog off my bookmarks list now. I can't handle any more 'Daughter the Elder/Younger/games with my kids' posts.

Of course it's your blog, I don't mean to say that you're not quite welcome to write about anything you wish!

Smatt said...

I quite enjoy your posts, Melissa. It puts a very real face on family gaming which gives a wider audience "permission" to play games more.

As per Shove Ha'Penny, House of Marbles does a version for $100 bucks or so (I'm ballparking the price), but it's not half as nice (or ha' as nice) as the one in your picture. Man, that sucker was beautiful!

Melissa said...

Sorry you feel that way anonymous. But that's the great thing about the internet - no-one is forcing you to read anything.

smatt, I think the board *has* to look gorgeous - although I imagine that they weren't all that fancy way back when.

Dr. Matt J. Carlson said...

I enjoy the family gaming posts as I'm lagging behind that by a few years and like to look ahead.