Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Ricochet - not a great game but I keep it around

Ricochet or Leonardo or Picus isn't a particularly good game. However, it fits enough niches that it has stayed in my collection.

I first came across it as Ricochet so that's what I'm going to call it, although I have also played the Leonardo version as well. Frankly, the pinball theme of Ricochet probably fits it best but the theme doesn't really matter.

Regardless of its theme, Ricochet is a real time, turn-less puzzle game. Which means everyone is trying to solve the puzzle at the same time. There are other games out there that do the exact same thing, like Ricochet Robots or Set or Spot It.

The whole thing is just a deck of cards, which is why it's still in my collection. Each card, in the pinball version, shows four pinball bumpers, along with a pinball. The bumpers are red, blue, yellow and green (and contrast well enough my color blind eyes can tell them apart) and have numbers on them. The pinball is either big or small in one of the four colors.

Here's the game. Lay down five cards in a cross formation. The starting point is the center card. The color and the size of the pinball will tell you the next card in the sequence. The color tells you what bumper to look at and the size tells you if you are looking for the largest or smallest number. You then look at that card's pinball for to figure out the next card.

Every card can only be used once in a sequence and turn. There are no duplicate numbers so any given layout can have only one sequence. Whoever figures out what the last card in the sequence is wins that turn.

As I mentioned earlier, there other games that same trick of being puzzles that everyone is trying to figure out the same time. And, quite frankly, many of the ones that I have played have been better. Ricochet Robots offers up some very fascinating puzzles. Spot It is an ingenious design as well as a crowd pleaser. Jungle Speed is a raucous party. (Set, by the way, is very unfriendly to my color blind eyes and so I cannot physically put it.)

Still, it's stuck around on the shelf.

Well, the fact that it's just a deck of cards and takes up almost no storage space goes a long way to why It's still here. Ricochet Robots is a better game but a much bigger box so it ended up being purged. (There is a Looney Pyramids variation I've been meaning to try, though)

Games like Ricochet have an unusual learning curve compared to most board games. They reward reaction time and pattern recognition. And the only way to get better is raw practice. So different skill levels tend to be pretty significant. People who are better will constantly beat weaker players.

You can say that about any game. But lost a game of Go to a stronger player often teaches you something. Losing a game of Ricochet or other games like it is just practice. When they have a twist like Jungle Speed or Spot It, it adds that extra bit of fun. Still, I don't tend to play games like this. (Sorry, Ricochet Robots)

Most of the time Ricochet has come out, it has been as something for folks to do in other games with player elimination. It works well for that sort of thing, particularly since it is so relatively simple, even compared to other speed puzzles.

And, when the toddler is just a little bit older, it might be the quiet thoughtful activity to keep them occupied at restaurants or waiting rooms or the like. Make him think without getting him too excited. It might end up seeing some decent play then.

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