Thursday, July 12, 2007

Old Puzzler Answer / The News in Reviews / New Fortnightly Puzzler (for everyone!)

Thank you to everyone who tried out the "Backwards Brainteaser." If you're interested in more, write to smattathias@gmail.com. I've got a variety of mazes/brainteasers using the same movement rules.

The winner is Terry Donahue who solved the puzzle correctly with the following 19 move sequence: A6, A5, A6, B6, B5, A5, A4, A5, B5, B6, A6, A5, A4, A5, B5, B4, A4, A3, A2 (also W, W, E, N, W, S, W, E, N, E, S, W, W, E, N, W, S, W, W). Congratulations!

As a side note, Terry referred me to Robert Abbott's website about mazes: http://www.logicmazes.com/. As it happens, I read Abbott's book Mad Mazes when I was kid! If you like interesting mazes, give this website a try. Truly fascinating stuff.

Let's switch gears.

For a couple of years, I've been writing game reviews for our local paper, the Missoulian. Over time, I've developed a format for writing the reviews: 1) I tell a personal anecdote, 2) I lead into the actual game and write a short overview with a few impressions, and 3) sum up the article by reaching some reflective conclusion about the personal story. Sometimes this formula works great, and sometimes it's a little forced. Overall though, I've gotten a ton of feedback from folks who presumably wouldn't read a game review article without the human element.

It dawned on me that I hadn't posted any of those articles here. Gone Gaming and BGG are for the True Gaming Fan, and I think I convinced myself that there wouldn't be any interest due to the lack of an in depth review. Perhaps, I thought wrong.

Here's my recent article. Enjoy!

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Every July when I was a kid, my parents would drive to the outskirts of town and buy fireworks for the family. Of course, we'd turn right around and drive home. Fireworks were technically illegal within the Corpus Christi city limits, but on the 4th, there wasn't a whole lot the law could do.

My dad was very strict about the use of fireworks: Lay the firecracker on the ground. Light the fuse. Run. We did this with everything, from Black Cats to Roman Candles. From his intensity you might have guessed we were lighting dynamite or pulling the pin from a grenade. My dad was a firecracker drill sergeant, and in time, I came to know the reason why.

Popping firecrackers in our backyard started long before I was born. In those early years, it was usually just my dad and my two brothers, Nick and Charlie.

As the story goes, my dad lit a firecracker and then regrouped with my brothers a safe distance away. The fuse went all the way down, and nothing happened. My dad and Nick started yelling, "It's a dud! It's a dud!" Charlie, not wise in the ways of the world, approached and picked up the firecracker.

It exploded.

Other than a couple of red fingers, Charlie didn't get hurt. But his ego had been severely bruised, and he was furious at both my dad and Nick.

This firecracking season brings to mind an appropriate game, if for nothing else but its name. The game is Bang!

Created by Emiliano Sciarra and produced by Mayfair Games, Bang! is a simple card game recreating the classic spaghetti western with good guys, bad guys, and a healthy dose of bullets.

Four to seven players are each dealt an identity card. The possible identities are the sheriff, a deputy, an outlaw, or a renegade. Each identity comes with a different goal. The sheriff and deputy want to kill all the outlaws; the outlaws want to kill both the sheriff and the deputy; the renegade wants to be the last man standing.

It's a simple enough premise, but at the beginning of every game, only the sheriff's identity is known. Through trial and error and a whole lot of bullets, each player tries to figure out the identities of the other players and ultimately who's with him and who's against him.

The cards in the deck have a variety of purposes. There are "miss" cards that allow you to dodge bullets, beer cards which give you energy (of course!), and gun cards which ramp up how far you can shoot or how much. Most simply let you "bang" another player.

And therein lies the fun. Bang! is a game that allows you to step into the boots of a gunslinger, hand on the holster and trigger finger itching for a chance. It's a great game for fans of the Old West genre and a fun, lighthearted approach to that dusty, familiar showdown scene. Best of all, no one is immune from a quick, explosive "BANG!"

This brings me back to Charlie and his unfortunate mishap. He supposedly held a grudge against my dad and Nick for several years.

When he was in high school, Charlie once again recounted the story to my mom, who was by then well-versed in the details. This time, however, Charlie's tone had changed. According to my mom, he said, "You know, when I picked up that firecracker and it blew up in my hand, it wasn't dad's or Nick's fault. It was mine."

I would like to have been there in that moment. I would like to have heard my brother say those words, to have felt their weight in the air. The moment was so short as to be unnoticeable, but my mother remembers after all these years. It wasn't the football games Charlie won nor the grades he made that made an impression, though I'm sure they had their place. In a moment, my brother grew up, and it's hard to imagine a more spectacular event than that.

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New Fortnightly Puzzler

This time, I'd like to play 20 questions. You'll have to work as a team for this one.

Let me first state that I played that electronic 20 Questions toy, and it actually got my thought which was "lemur." The first question is a four-in-one, so it actually asked 23 questions (if you include the asking of what I was thinking, then it's 24 questions). I think we can do better.

I'm thinking of a specific game. In 20 questions, can you figure out what it is? I'll respond to all posts as often as I can during the next two weeks. Post carefully! I'll be counting…

Good luck!

21 comments:

huzonfirst said...

Alright, I'll start it off.

Question #1: Does the game contain dice?

smatt said...

Yes.

And sorry about the delay. Internet is going in and out chez moi.

Michael said...

Is the winner determined by the player with the most points? (Victory points, prestige, etc)

smatt said...

Yes.

Annie said...

Does the game have a theme (as opposed to a classic game like cribbage or backgammon)?

smatt said...

Yes.

While cribbage is not themed, if the pegs were shaped liked horses, I would begrudgingly say it was themed.

Michael said...

Question #4: Was the game first published after 1995?

smatt said...

Yes.

Good question.

Michael said...

Since no one else is asking questions, I'll try again.

Question #5: Do the game rules accomodate more than 4 players?

Dr. Matt J. Carlson said...

Question #6: Do players going late in turn order start the game with a bonus or penalty?

smatt said...

No and No.

Michael said...

Question #7: Does the game us standard 6 sided dice only with no special symbols or markings?

smatt said...

No.

Michael said...

Question #8: Does the game use a start player token/card?

smatt said...

No.

Michael said...

Okay, back to the publishing year...Question #9: Was the game published in 2005 or later?

smatt said...

Yes.

Annie said...

Question #10 Is the game appropriate for kids?

Question #11 Has the game won any awards?

Question #12 Did you chose this game because you really like it and think it's a good strategy game?

smatt said...

Yes.

Yes.

No.

Annie said...

Question #13 Was the game published this year (2007)?

smatt said...

Yes.