Also, a board-and-card game from Parker. Look past the poor quality box art if you will, to discover one of the best board games I've ever had the fortune to encounter. I'm traditionally rather skeptical of board games, but this one has overcome that barrier and still enjoys much usage many years after it's purchase.

The premise of the game is simple: the board is covered with a 10x10 matrix of playing cards, and each player is dealt a hand of seven - less if there are many players. By playing a certain card on their turn, the player is entitled to place a coloured counter on a matching card on the board. The first player to form two lines of five wth their counters is declared the winner. Players pick up a new card to replace their used one at the end of each turn, from a double deck of 104 cards.

Of course, a board of one hundred cards has duplicates of almost all the 52 unique cards in a pack, and that is where the first element of strategy enters. There is also the element of timing, for if your line of five builds up too quickly or too obviously, then your opponents will take steps to block it.

In addition, there are no Jacks to be found on the board, although they do appear in the pack; these are special cards. A so-called "two eyed Jack", facing out from the card so that both his eyes can be seen, functions as a wild card, and allows you to place a counter anywhere on the board. On the other hand, a "one eyed Jack", who faces to the side and thus shields one eye, is used to remove any counter from the board. As a result, these cards are highly valued, both for destroying the lines of others, and for completing one's own.

To add furthur depth, the corner squares of the board are also special: they are counted as belonging to all players, from the start. In other words, any line built off the corners need only contain four counters to be completed, and so any player that can do this is again at an advantage.

The reason for this game's lasting appeal is the range of tactics that have developed for it. Players must co-ordinate their own line building efforts, while keeping their eyes open for opponent's lines, which are sometimes hard to spot as diagonal lines are also permitted. In my family, at least, this game remains one of few board games that have never become stale.

In fact, every card on the board is duplicated. The board consists of 10x10 squares, minus 4 because the corners have no card:
10x10 - 4 = 96
The double deck contains 52x2 cards, but the 4x2 Jacks aren't on the board:
52x2 - 4x2 = 104 - 8 = 96
There you have it. 96 playable cards, 96 playable squares.

Back to the Everything Quests: Games and Distractions.