Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A few classics

You could argue that classic games are classics for a reason, but you could also argue that many classics are only considered classic because they got there first, and no one knew any better at the time.

Water Works falls firmly into the former category. It's a card game that is very easy to play, but with a reasonable amount of strategy and more player interaction than similar card games where the object is to be the first to have a set number of cards in play. Players start with a valve and a spout, and the goal is to play a pipeline of 8-15 cards (depending on the number of players, and which edition of the game you have) between the two.

Of course, it's a little more complicated than simply laying down cards. All the cards in your pipeline must be oriented the same way, so there is a difference between horizontal and vertical pipes. There are also T-Junctions, which will cause your pipeline to go in two different directions, one of which must be capped before you can play your spout card.

More deviously, your opponents can play leaky pipes onto your pipeline, which must be repaired or replaced before you can win.

It's a great game whose card laying mechanics inform many newer games, from Starbase Jeff to Tsuro, and even dungeon crawl games like DungeonQuest.

Rating: 3 (out of 5) A simple game, but still a classic that holds up fairly well.

Date played: November 9, 2014

Yahtzee is another classic game that has influenced countless others, but in this case it is the game's elaborate scoring system that has made its mark, especially in Reiner Knizia's games.

In Yahtzee, players roll dice in an effort to get the best combination of numbers they can, in order to fill up a score sheet that gives bonuses for things like having the most of a single number, or a sequence of consecutive numbers. The strategy lies in deciding when to fill each section of the score sheet, since you have to fill one each turn, but you always risk getting a better roll for that section later.

Yahtzee is an undeniable classic, and it is simple and well known enough that it has become a favorite "fill in the blanks" merchandise item, much like Monopoly or Risk (our copy is the Pirates of the Caribbean edition). However, I found that it doesn't hold up on its own the way some of the other classic games do: in Yahtzee, the entire game is the scoring system, with the game play reduced to rolling dice and putting numbers in boxes. There is very little to inspire the imagination.

That said, the Firefly version is tempting...

Rating: 2 (out of 5) A little too abstract and lacking in any kind of theme to hold my interest.

  • Yahtzee USAopoly official website for licensed versions
  • Yahtzee on BoardGameGeek.com

Date played: November 27, 2014


  1. The firefly edition at least knows you're really buying it for the awesomely detailed dice cup.

  2. I think that's the case for most of them. I'm still tempted by the Doctor Who edition with the TARDIS dice cup.