An avid player of tabletop and video games throughout his life, Conrad has a passion for unique design mechanics and is a nut for gaming history. He can be heard on the comedy podcast FistShark Marketing (fistshark.com) and streams video games often on Hitbox (hitbox.tv/ConradZimmerman)
The mere inclusion of Rodney Dangerfield can vastly improve anything. Films, music, toasters, anything. In particular, the force of Rodney Dangerfield could elevate video games to the level in which they are accepted by the mainstream as a true art form, bringing together people of all races, creeds and tax brackets in peace and harmony.
This blog article has been edited. It was formerly titled "Tabletop Gaming Friday: 12/28/2007" and has been renamed to reflect the feature series it belongs to.
A day late with the update, due to my displeasure at using Beautiful Girlfriend's laptop for, well, anything at all. This week's session was short and a little disappointing, but it gives me an opportunity to talk about a lesser-known card game that I have often attributed the end of my academic career to.
Quiddler is most easily described as a cross twixt Gin Rummy and Scrabble. Players receive a hand of cards which they must use in the formation of one or more words. Hand size increases with each round of play, starting at three cards and ending with ten.
On a turn, a player must draw a card from the top of either the draw or discard pile and then discard a card. At this time, if they can successfully use every card in their hand, they may lay the hand down and effectively end the round. If not, play passes to the next player. When someone does "go out", each remaining player has one turn (played in the usual manner) to make the most of their hand, forming whatever words possible to use as many cards as they can.
Each letter (or combination of letters on some cards) has a score value based on ease of application. Vowels are typically worth two points while working a Z into your hand can add a whopping fourteen. Any cards a player cannot use have their value counted against them. In addition to the standard scoring of card values, ten bonus points are awarded to players who manage to have either the most words or the longest word in a given hand.
I love this game for several reasons. Words are a huge part of my life, but knowing many high-syllable words won't necessarily ensure victory in Quiddler, as smaller words can be more prized for ease of use in a hand and to work towards what can be a very valuable bonus. By nature of being a card game, it's also portable and makes for an excellent diversion at a coffee house or pub. Quiddler traveled with me to PAX this year, where I had the privilege of playing with Tycho (who commented that the cards reeked of cigarettes and bong - I'll only admit the former). It can support up to eight players for those nights when you have a larger crowd and also comes packaged with solitaire rules for those times when nobody else is handy to play with and you want a serious challenge.
Quiddler is made by Set Enterprises. Their website features a daily puzzle where you can try out the solitaire mode. Highly recommended.
Oh, and Beautiful Girlfriend won our game last night. Just keep it on the down-low. She gets a swelled head whenever this happens.