Wednesday, 13 August 2014

"So Pichy, What is that Avatar You Always Use?"$_35.JPG 

"It's mah jong... rummy...canasta... all rolled into one!" 
That's the Rummikub set our family owned. I wish I could tell the story of who on earth Hansa is, why their prints of the game used an altered name while keeping the joker or what their relation to the actual IP owners at Lemada Light Industries, but I can certainly talk about the game for anyone who's not very card game inclined.

It's an easy game to grasp. Everyone is dealt 14 tiles and have to get rid of them by constructing sets (groups of three tiles of the same number but different colours) and runs (groups of three or more tiles of the same colour but numeric sequence such as 1, 2 ,3. 1 can follow 13, but nothing after that.) Once sets are down, you can add appropriate tiles to them as much as you want, and take whatever you want away from them to make other sets and runs provided that everything is a set of three/four, or a run of at least three tiles in direct numeric order (so you can't leave things like 457).

The two complications are this: You cannot play around with what's on the table until you've put down 30 points (a tile's points are just the number it bears) in a single turn. There are also two jokers bearing the face I often use as my display picture. If you use a joker in a set to take the place of a tile you don't have, that set cannot have tiles taken away from it until the joker has been removed. You can add as many tiles as you want if it's a run. You remove the joker by simply placing the tile it's masquerading as with the right one from your own hand. You're then given the joker to use as you see fit, though it must be used on that shot.

The game is fun, though it's what I describe as a singleplayer multiplayer game. There are 3 or 4 (or twice that if it's an expanded set with extra tiles) players, but they don't actually interact with each other. You're all taking turns to manipulate what's in the field, but the decisions you make are based entirely on what's out there and in your own hand. There's no real indicator of what other people are holding, and even if you did know there's not much you can do about it. Once you understand how to work the tiles, you've learned optimal play. Any decision making past that point is just you gambling on whether you think you'll get rid of this low-value double you picked up in play sooner than this higher value tile by itself.

This is what annoys me about games like May I?, Frustration and Hand and Foot. You have a number of people playing a game, but they're not actually playing with each other. They're all just sitting in isolation, waiting for Lady Luck to smile upon them and let the game end. Even in Canasta you can gather a lot about what may be in your opponents' hands by what they're discarding, what they're not picking up and any faces they may be making when observing discards. You can even bait out the player who has to discard to you by discarding cards you have a triple in your hand of in order to take the pack with the remaining pair when they fall for it. When I'm playing a game with people, I want to be playing with the people. Games are at their best when there's room for self expression and intreaction with others, rather than performing a set of actions that are the same as everyone else's.

That said, tomorrow I'll bring up a Singleplayer Multiplayer Game that works really well for pretty distinct reasons.

1 comment:

  1. Admired your Joker a lot when I first saw it, wished I'd thought of it first. Such a great and instantly recognisable image.
    Always loved me some Rummikin (yet another brand, yes) when I was growing up. Still a fine game, but it needs a clock. You get a surprising amount of information on other players hands, and much merriment, from watching people try to make impossible connections work by shuffling tiles from group to group.
    Coincidentally, Rummikub features in my blog today too...maybe your joker has wormed it's way into my subconscious.