Monday, April 03, 2006
Easy to understand, with all the rules you need written on one side of a playing card, and some useful clarifications, that you might also need, on the other.
A close relative of the children's card game 99 (or 98 or even 100), Straw adds both fantasy and depth. As in 99, players take turns adding cards to a pile. Quite literally adding, because as each card is placed on the pile its point value is added to the sum of all the cards in the pile. In Straw, each card adds weight to the load on a camel's back. A light object, like, for example, a backgammon board, only weighs 2. A heavier object, like a bag of bricks, weighs 10. In 99, the goal is not to allow the point count to exceed 99. In Straw, the critical point is reached at 50.
There are a few very significant differences - significant enough to make Straw a unique game - one complex enough to interest adults while remaining clear enough to invite children. The big difference is that, when the camel's back is broken, the remaining players score by adding the value of all 4 cards in their hand. Those wonderfully special, beautifully illustrated cards (e.g.: the card that reverses direction, the flying carpet card that actually remove weight from the camel's back, the Alladin's lamp card that can weigh any number you pick, from 1 to 10) each and all have a score value of zero. So holding on to them for their strategic value only makes your hand worth less.
It doesn't take long before the camel's back gets broken, so rounds are brief, and the possibility that you might actually win the game, even though your score is low, keeps you involved until the last card is played. Mostly luck, there are just enough strategic implications to keep the whole family in play.
The next edition of the game will soon be available. In the mean time, if you hurry, a mere $20 will get a signed and individually numbered first editions, like the works of art they are.
Labels: Kids Games