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).

Friday, May 13, 2011

Lighting My Fire – Games Good for Camping

I mentioned camping with our Scout troop the other day.  It was supposed to be pretty rainy the whole weekend, (thankfully it was not!) so I planned my games for the weekend around those that can get wet.  In reality, though, it isn’t just rain that is bad for games.  No matter what the weather is supposed to be like, dirt, mud – even a little breeze – are all environmental considerations when you combine gaming and camping.

What game components are not good for camping?  There are really two characteristics that define this.  You wouldn’t want those which can soak up water.  That rules out anything with paper money or cards. (Though standard playing cards are cheap enough to be an exception.)  The second problem type is anything that might catch the wind.  These rules eliminate a lot of games, since so many of them have cards in them.

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Good components are ones that can get wet, since this allows not only for rain, but for cleaning them up at the end of camp too.  They should be chunky, too, since this helps keep them from getting lost in the grass.  Less common, except with games having homemade components, is having a vinyl or cloth  board (like a handkerchief) if any at all.  Dice and craft stones are the key.

Dice games are great, since they can always be washed off.  If they are standard dice, they can easily be replaced if needed.  On this outing I took GoLong!, an American football game, which is a fun little dice-fest.  These dice are not standard, but then I picked it up at the thrift store for $0.69, so who cares.  Since the game is out of print, I won’t do a full review, but I will say that while it was very light and had nearly zero strategy, it was a fun game.  It comes with a dice cup, too, so I could easily take a couple of standard, six-sided dice to use with the cup for a game or two of Mia, a variant of Liar’s Dice.
Game stores have 12-sided dice, but not with these icons. (Image by Donal Dimitroff)

There are places online that sell handkerchief type boards for Nine Men’s Morris.  Different colored craft stones could be used for the playing pieces.  I am having a friend of mine print a board for Brandubh, another ancient game, on white cloth and I hope to have it matched with stones for the next camping trip.  Not that cloth is needed; printing a board on a piece of paper or even drawing the board in the dirt would work since craft stones can be washed.

My two “games for all seasons” are Hive, which doesn’t have a board and has big chunky tiles, and a travel chess set.  (I took Hive on a Scout outing this winter, and talked about it then.)  I usually take a deck of standard playing cards and a little cribbage board as well.
With those games and the two other copies of Hive other leaders brought, there was plenty for everyone to do during the couple hours of rain we did get.

Quick – what would you bring to a campout or picnic?  Do you already own it?  It is amazing to me how weathering a storm by playing a few games as a group can bring people together.  I would certainly suggest having a few “games for all seasons” in your closet.

Do me a favor and drop me a line:  What games would you take?

It’s Your Move!

2 comments:

  1. Trax has rugged plastic tiles and a small nylon carrying case. You might need to find a larger flat surface than what you are using for Hive in the photo. It's a great abstract.

    Othello is available in a small version. The board is about 7" square, and is hinged to close as a box containing the tokens. If you also have a small chess set, then you could use the tokens with chess pawns to play Amazons. There is room inside the Othello box for a deck of cards and additional white and/or black bingo chips to play 13x13 Hex. You could wrap the bingo tokens in aluminum foil. Use the monochrome tokens until they run out, then use the Othello tokens with the appropriate color facing up. See http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/492467/twixter The Hex board does not fit inside the Othello box, but it folds up and could be attached with a rubber band.

    Of course, no abstract is worth its weight if you do not bring or find an opponent.

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  2. I think it is a better idea to enjoy visit spot during camping. I like to play games in camping but rarely.
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