A card game
for two players, designed by James Ernest
and published by his company, Cheapass Games
. TVCPG looks somewhat similar to interconnected-pipes card games many of us remember from our youths, most notably Water Works
, but TVCPG is much more abstract. It isn't really about pipes at all, but about connections.
There are two colors of pipe, and two colors of floor (background). Many cards have both colors of pipe represented and intertwined, as well as both background colors. Players lay cards next to other cards, in turn. All pipe connections must match; that is, no pipe may instantly change colors as it crosses card boundaries, nor may it just stop existing without an endcap.
The goal of the simple game is to make loops ("sets") of your chosen pipe color, adding all cards touched by the loop to your score pile. The goal of the intermediate game is to match up adjacent floor segments (while cards must be played with pipes matching, adding a layer of indirection). In the complete game, you may play both ways, with four players.
"The Very Clever Pipe Game" is also the name of an individual card in the underrated Cheapass game Fight City. In that card's illustration, three toughs at the end of an alley, one of them with a lead pipe, stare down at a man on his knees. Very clever indeed.
(Thanks to cordelia for /msging me the correction. I then went home, checked my rules and found many more corrections. I originally wrote that in the third form of the game, two players were playing for floors and pipes simultaneously, which I only note here because I think it would actually be fun to play this way.)
Update 10.30.01: TVCPG will be returning to print in early 2002, as part of Cheapass' new Hip Pocket Games line. Update again 12.10.01: I'm wrong, it's out now. The new edition ditches the pseudo-collectible angle and gives you something like 48 cards for US$4.00.