zwischenzug (ZVI-shen-tsoog) — noun

A chess tactic in which a player, instead of playing the expected move, first interpolates another move, changing the situation to the player's advantage (such as gaining material or avoiding what would otherwise be a strong continuation for the opponent).

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Game Storage - On Speed

This past weekend I was camping with our Scout troop.  It was a lot of fun, as usual, but I was racing around Friday morning trying to find all of the stuff I needed to pack in my backpack.  Normally, I just have to pull together my clothes and whatever games I am taking (of course!).  Most things are largely ready to roll, since I have like items packed together in large freezer bags.  To be honest, I started reflecting on how plastic bags have become part of my organizational strategy in life, and particularly in camping and gaming.

Last month I wrote about making tuckboxes to store the cards in your games.  I mentioned plastic bags briefly then, but I want to talk about using them to organize game play, not just storage.

It is pretty easy to see that plastic bags keep like things together so they are easy to keep track of.  Pandemic has twenty-four disease cubes for each of four different colors.  Keeping each color in a plastic bag helps with keeping them from getting lost.  That’s important because running out of a color ends the game, so you have to have the right number of them.  Z-man Games, the publisher, provides bags in Pandemic.  The bags are large enough lay out the cubes in a single layer while still in the bag.  This allows me to square them up into a 4x6 rectangle, so I know all twenty-four are there without opening the bag.  Keeping each color separate also speeds play, since we don’t have to pick through all of the cubes to get the right color.

There is another, less obvious way to use bags to speed game play.  I am talking about getting the game started.  There are lots of games where the set up takes some time, which can lead to reluctance to play the game, particularly if you are running short on time.  Organizing the setup in the box is a great way to speed things along.

One game that could use this idea is Monopoly.  Players start with an assortment of money totaling $1500.  Rather than count that out at the beginning of each game, it would be faster to make “player packets” by packing four to six sets of starting cash into several plastic bags.  Then, to start a game, each player just needs a bag of money and a player token, and play can begin.  At the end of the game there will be enough money on the table to reorganize the packets quickly, rather than just putting all of the money back into the money tray.

For games with multiple phases, this concept can be used to organize the various phases.  When Phase 2 needs to come out, it is already organized into its own set of bags, and is set up in no time.

I have used this with The Fury of Dracula, which probably has one of the longer set up times in our game collection.  Between the player packets and the tuckboxes, everything is organized to start play, and the game table can be ready in just a couple of minutes.

I find that 3”x5” (76mm x 127mm) plastic bags are the most useful, since they can be used to store a decent number of anything, and can hold a small deck of cards in order if necessary.  They are available in most craft stores.  Honestly, though, sandwich bags will do.  Just remember, organizing the game in any way tends to speed things up.  After all,

It’s Your Move!

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