Friday, January 30, 2009

games: aggravation and nuclear war

Aggravation is a game we've played before: You get a board with little holes in in a definite pattern, you get four little marbles that are vaguely the colors of vegetables, and you have to make it all the way around the board without getting sent back to the start. Like Chinese Checkers meets Sorry. The fun part is that you can only leave Base and start around the board if you've rolled a 1 or a 6, and those are both the rarest rolls. You can't get into Home unless you've rolled exactly the number you need to get there. You can't jump your own pieces. There are shortcuts around the board, but they're places where others are likely to try to go, and you can get bumped and wind up back in your Base to start over. If someone else lands in the same spot, you're back to Base and have to start over. 

It's fun, more than aggravating, but it's also fun to point out how aggravating it is, and after everyone has their dudes on the board, it gets meaner and therefore more fun. Personally, I like these sorts of games with different colors that all look the same and definite rules with lots of possibilities-- probably because one of the first games I ever played was Parcheesi, which is similar. 

Aggravation is a quick game, and can be played with up to six players, which makes it more fun.

Nuclear War is one of those weird topical games that came out back in the Cold War-- toward the end when it was starting to be a joke, I guess. Basically, you have bombs and you have delivery systems, and the goal is to wipe out all your opponents' populations. No one knows what your population is-- that's determined by random card-passing at the beginning-- and no one knows what bombs and rockets / planes / space platforms you have. There are secrets that come to the fore as you replace spent cards, and some of them are against you, and all of them means someone is losing population in any number of ways-- defection, plague, rebellion, mysterious vanishings. There's even something that allows a virus to keep wiping out everyone until the one card that can stop it is played, and something that brings dead people back to your hand as zombies. 

We declared ourselves to be random small nations and made up the story as it went-- when the only thing in a missile was propoganda, we said they were getting showered in leaflets; when bombs went off without missiles, we said there was testing or accidents; when there were only missiles, we said the people were getting desperate and were loading the rockets inside eachother in a last-ditch effort. 

Again, a fun, quick game, and not terribly hard or terribly complex-- and you get to nuke your friends! Not politically correct, socially insensitive, very low-budget, and fun because it's so obvious, if you can find this beastie, I say go for it.

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