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Timing

Last week we played Flamme Rouge, a Tour-de-France themed racing game where each player takes two cyclists (a ‘sprinteur’ and a ‘rouleur’) and races around the track by playing cards.  Needless to say, we spent much of the game putting on dodgy French accents.

Apparently the ‘flamme rouge’ is a red flag that gets waved 1km before the end of the race.  Like the chequered flag of Formula 1.  The interesting thing about this game though, is that everyone has exactly the same set of cards.  Each card simply has a number on it that says how far you can move your cyclist along the track.

But if every player has the same set of cards, how can any one player end up further ahead by the end of the race?  Well, it all comes down to timing.

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What is a Game?

Last night at the Dice Cup, I was chatting to some people playing Concept.  In Concept players take it in turns to try to communicate a concept (a word or a phrase) to everyone else.  It might be an object or an activity, or it might be something more abstract (and therefore more difficult) like justice, or melancholy.

Players have to communicate using pictures.  At this point you’re probably thinking, “Isn’t that Pictionary?”  The difference is that Concept doesn’t involve any drawing.  You have a big board full of pictures and you place cubes or other tokens on the different pictures to communicate your concept.  Eg. You could put one cube on the picture for ‘Metal’ and another cube on the picture for ‘Hot’ to indicate a saucepan.

It can be surprisingly difficult for beginners, but experienced players can communicate with remarkable accuracy.  The question is though, is it really a game?  You can play with points, but most people seem to just play for the fun of trying to communicate the given concept each time.  When is a game a game, and when is it just an activity?

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