Friday, June 7, 2019

Hoity Toity - so much more than Rock-Paper-Scissors

When I think of Rock-Paper-Scissors and board games, I think Hoity Toity (also known by a half dozen other names) by Klaus Teuber. It’s much more than R-P-S but that’s definitely something you’re going to reference when you teach the game. It’s also a reminder that Klaus Teuber can make some great games that don’t have anything to do with Catan.

Hoity Toity is about British nobles amassing collections of antiques for prestige and rubbing it in each other’s faces. As I’ve written before, it’s like a Wodehouse novel. And maybe an argument about why folks should eat the rich.

The core of the game is secret action selection. You can go to the auction hall or the castle. After you choose where you’re going, you choose what you’re going to do. In the auction hall, you can hope to buy one of the scarce antique cards or you can try and rob the till. At the castle, you can display a collection or steal from a collection or use a detective to catch a crook stealing from a collection.

(I find the scoring track very amusing. Not only does it track how far along you are but also how many spaces you can earn with your antique collections)

The end result of the Rock-Paper-Scissors/Hidden Action core of Hoity Toity creates a constant level of interaction that just keeps getting ratcheted up as the game goes on and the stakes keep getting higher. The game does a great job of keeping everyone involved and in everyone else’s business.

Hoity Toity is _far_ from the only game that uses hidden action selection but it does it very well. There’s definitely some meat behind your choices as you try to make a good antique collection and figure out what your opponents are trying to do. At the same time, it plays in less than an hour so it’s easy to get on the table.

While Catan is what set the world on fire, it didn’t come out of nowhere, either in the big picture of gaming or in Klaus Teuber’s designs. Not only did Hoity Toity win the Spiel de Jahres, I have been told it also attracted attention on this side of the Atlantic, back when German-style family games were practically unknown in the US.

Hoity Toity is an old game by modern standards, almost thirty years old. (Don’t look at me that way, Go. You’re forever young) But it holds up very well, particularly for its intended family audience.

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