Search This Blog

Friday, August 11, 2017

Games of Skill and Chance I: Hobbits

If you are reading this, you love playing games.  Or are just a bad Googler and yet really committed to reading every link you click on.

So you love playing games—do you love making them?  Every new game I play, I think up ways to twist the rules, make them better, make them different, and make them awesome.  I see dice and I want to make them sing; I see cards and I want to make them dance; I see a table at Ikea and I want to make sure it fits the Lord of the Rings Risk board with the Gondor and Mordor expansion and still have space for everyone to arrange their armies in meticulous phalanxes.

I think of new games all the time.  I cannot help it.  Most of them never get polished and finished, and they die under the table of the classics.  But some of them ... some of them turn out awesome.


My brother (you might have heard of farmane already) and I invented this game so long ago I cannot even remember when.  We were bored in the basement of our grandparents’ house some years after the trilogy came out, lamenting the fact that we could never find our copy of Crossbows and Catapults, and all we had were dice.  A lot of dice.  A ludicrously ridiculous number of dice.  Think about the number of different Monopoly, Risk, and Yahtzee games you owned as a kid but lost the dice to—we took your dice and put them in a big bag.  We played Poker Dice, but then we got bored, and we wanted something new.

So we each rolled four dice.  Then we put them in order from greatest to least, one for each hobbit: Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin (no dice for you, Fatty Bolger).  Then you just add up all your dice, and whoever has the highest total wins, right?  No, that would be far too easy.  Easy games are for losers.

Frodo’s die counts double, because of the ring.  (By the way: why is it so hard to say die?  Even when I only have one, I just really want to say dice.  Screw you, weird singulars.)  In fact, to win you have to win the Frodo die.  But what about Sam?  He got the ring that one time.  Alright, fine, you can still win if you win the Sam die, but only if you tie the Frodo die—if your Frodo loses, you cannot win at all.  The game is a draw and you have to roll again.

So there it is.  Simple enough, right?  Wait, you say, you forgot about Merry and Pippin, they should get some special rules too.  Alright, alright, calm down.  Since they are essentially indistinguishable, if you roll doubles you have to make those two dice the Merry and Pippin dice, even if the doubles are higher than your other dice.  Plus you can add 1 to your total sum for them being awesome.

What if you roll three of a kind, you say?  Sam gets the odd dice out, since he is the real hero of the story.  Two pairs?  Make Frodo and Sam the bigger pair, of course.  That sounds like a sensible set of rules.  It is still a game of pure chance, but at least now you have to figure out which dice is which.  Not to mention the indignity of rolling sixes for the dynamic duo and not being able to win because your Frodo got stabbed by a Nazgûl or something.

Wait.  This game could still get a little more messed up.  They are hobbits, right?  Small, pointy-eared, furry-footed, good at hiding?  You know what the best roll in the game should be, right?  Four of a kind.  Four ones (and by the way, when you roll it, you have to shout “Hobbits” as loud as you can, even if you are somewhere you should be really quiet—hey, you decided to play the game).  The lower your four of a kind, the better.  Except four sixes, which is automatically the worst roll in the game.  Because hobbits.

And there you have it.  No really, I have nothing else to add.  The game is quick, and you can play literally hundreds of times in one sitting, especially as the frustration of multiple draws starts to stack up.  You can bet on each round if you want, and maybe have a Sabacc pot that the first person to get a natural Hobbits wins, or just play for fun.  In fact, a great place to play would be when you have to line up ridiculously early for movie tickets and your only other option is ranking all the movies you have seen from greatest to least, and you already did that when you went to see the Star Wars prequels and look how that turned out.  Thanks a lot, George.  Maybe if you had played some damn Hobbits we would not be stuck with Gungans.

No comments:

Post a Comment