A couple of months ago, when we first started pondering about doing these challenges, we flipped through all of the different weeks and made some notes about what games could potentially fit each week. Some were really easy to come up with, and some were much harder (Darn you Todd!). This weeks challenge was to play a game that was over 100 years old, and initially we thought this might be a little harder.
We have a lot of games, and I do mean a lot. However, a lot of our stuff is newer, or at least is within the last few decades. We of course have the extremely old games, like Chess, Go, and Pente, but to me that just didn’t feel very exciting. Sure it fit the theme as technically, it was over 100 years old, but I preferred a game from just before the turn of this century. Something that was just a smidge over 100. When we started brainstorming, not a lot really came to us. Monopoly was the first thing suggested, but BGG confirmed what I thought. Monopoly didn’t come out till 1933, so it still has a few years to go. What else could be over 100, but not more than 200?
It was off to our favorite resource: BoardGameGeek.com. This is an awesome website that lists all sorts of information on games: their designers, publishers, reviews, number of players, and yes, the dates they were published. After a quick search I was rewarded with a list of hundreds of games that were over 100 years old, and I was surprised by just how many games were on it that I owned. While reading down the list, one game in particular popped out at me: Pit.
Pit popped out at me for two reasons. First, I was surprised by it’s age. This game was, apparently, originally released in 1903. Making this game 109 years old, which was perfect for my vision of our challenge. Given that this game is all about commodity trading on the stock market, I was very surprised, I don’t think of the stock market being as big of an influence on the world until the 20’s and 30’s, however that might just be ignorance on my part. The second reason that I honed in on this game is because it has come up in conversation with my editor multiple times. You see, she had never played Pit and really didn’t have any idea how it was played. So when I have described games as being “like Pit” before, she was left in the dark. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to rectify that.
So what is Pit? Pit is a very fast paced trading game where you are trying to “corner the market” by having all of one type of crop. Each player is dealt a hand of 9 (or 10, it doesn’t always divide evenly and that’s ok) cards. As soon as you have your hand organized people start trading frantically, “I have two! I have two!”. “I have four! I have four!”. If you hear someone call for a number of cards that you would like to trade for, you pass them the number of cards they called for (they must be all one commodity) and they will pass you their cards that they wish to trade. Through these trades your goal is to accumulate all of one type. To make matters worse, there are two special cards in the deck: the bear and the bull. If you get stuck with either of these in your hand at the end of the round, you lose 20 points, 40 if you have both. The round is over when one person gets all of one commodity in their hand. The bull can also count as a wild, but only if you are the one to “corner the market”, and this will double your point value.
Our game went ok. I lost, which I was expecting. I’m not very good at keeping track of who has what cards. For me this game is more an exercise in random trades and luck. But it’s still amusing. I like the fast paced trading atmosphere. I know for some people this game has some skill elements, it shows in just how frequently they win, but for me that is not the case.
Did you find a game that was over 100 years old to play this week? Maybe you played one and didn’t even know it. After all, I never would have guessed that Pit was that old. Next weeks challenge is to “Play a game you think you will lose”. Somehow, I don’t think that will be too tough.
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