Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Dice games in my pocket

It is hardly a secret that I am a big fan of games that you can fit in your pocket. When I was first getting into gaming and hadn't gotten serious about having a game closet, those were the first kind of games that were in my collection. A big part of my reentry into playing board games were games at coffee shops or restaurants or waiting for everyone to show up for the D&D game.

(For a very brief time, a lot of my gaming was done with Cheapass's Hip Pocket line at a coffee shop across from the Music Box in Chicago that I'm pretty sure is gone. I don't think it was for more than a month but it was so early in my gaming experience that it stands out)

While there is now a ridiculous vast wealth of small games, it wasn't like there was shortage back when I got started. Heck, there would have been plenty of options if I'd gotten started twenty years before I did.

And simple dice games are one of the fundamental forms of travel games. 

Seriously, they are their own beast. No one is going to call Cthulhu Dice  micro game, even though it consists of one die and some beads. (On the other hand, since it's basically a LCR variant, I'm not sure I personally consider it a _game_)

Of course, dice have their own profoundly ancient history and cultural significance. They have their own space in the world of gaming, one that has a much wider audience than the kind of games I normally play. I know there are events called Bunko parties and I've passed my share of back alley craps games when I lived in Chicago. I once worked with a guy, decidedly not into games, who still carried six dice around in a cigar case so he could play Ten Thousand at bars.

If you are carting around games in your coat pocket to play anywhere with anyone, games that will appeal to a wide audience are a good thing. And dice games can often fill that bill nicely.

In my experience, particularly with an older audience, more abstract games are often easier sells. Zombie Dice surprised me by being a solid push your luck game with some interesting play with probability. However, if you can sell someone on Zombie Dice, they might be up for a more complicated, thematic game.

For many years, my most reliable simple dice game has been Cinq-O,  a Yahtzee variant that offers a decent number of choices and control. It used to be super easy to find but it's been out of print long enough to be rare. Which is a shame and I hope it gets reprinted. Good for adults and great for parents. Future generations of parents could use this game and I'm glad I have it for my kid.

But, before I found Cinq-O, my dice game in my pocket of choice was Cosmic Wimpout. In fact, this blog entry was originally just going to be about Cosmic Wimpout before I got sidetracked out the window.

Cosmic Wimpout, while obviously developed from Ten Thousand, has its own quirky identity and place in culture. I mean, it's a favorite of Grateful Dead fans. That gives it a crazy street cred that no money can buy. It also takes away a lot of a player's control, which is usually a total deal breaker for me, but somehow it works with Cosmic Wimpout.

Over the last few years, I have looked and played a lot of micro games, mostly card games but board games as well. Print and play hasn't hurt that exploration. However, I know it's important not to stop looking at the fundamental bedrock of dice.

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