Now that I realize that I have created the Greatest Game Since Mousetrap, I feel obligated to share it with you, the defective yeti Reading Public. However this game does not come free; oh no. If you actually play Corporation, you must write me afterwards with comments and suggestions on the play of the game. You will alos want to write me because, after playing Corporation with your buddies, I may be the only friend you have left.
4 – 10
Equipment: One or more decks of standard playing cards; a pencil and paper; poker chips or play money to keep score.
Preparation: Give each player a set of n cards, consecutively ranked from Ace up, where n = number of players. If you are playing with seven player, for example, give each player seven cards ranked A-7; if you are playing with four people, give each player A-4. A set need not be of all the same suit.
Premise: It takes money to make money. Each player will be putting up capital in anticipation of Profits. If you want the Big Bucks, though, you will have to form a Corporation with other players. A Corporation will net you Corporate Rewards if everyone cooperates — but if any members defect (or if an outsider tries to horn in on the action) it’s back to the drawing board.
Play: On the first round, each person places a card from his hand face down on the table. When all cards have been played they are all flipped face up.
Anyone who played an unmatched card (i.e. no one else played a card of the same denomination) takes his card back into his hand and immediately scores Profits: a number of points equal to the value of the card (Aces = 1). All the players who played matching cards form a Corporation. They do not score any points, and leave their matching cards face up in front of them to indicate who belongs to which Corporations.; Multiple Corporations may be formed in the same round.
Future rounds are played exactly the same, with one additional twist. If all the members of a Corporation (and only the members of the Corporation) play the same card, they all receive Corporate Rewards: a number of points equal to the value of the card played times the number of members in the Corporation. If, however, (a) any member of a Corporation plays a card different from the other members, or (b) any person not in the Corporation plays the same card as the members, then no Corporate Rewards are given. Either way, the rest of the round is carried out as usual: those who played singletons get Profits and everyone who played matching cards form (new) Corporations. Players who were previously in Corporations should take their old cards back into their hands.
Record points with a pencil and paper, or give players chips / play money as they earn Profits and Corporate Rewards. If, at the end of a round, one or more players have at least the target score, the person with the most points wins. Points / money, by the way, is open knowledge.
Because the Corporate Rewards can skyrocket with greater number of players, a good target score for a game is 2n2, where n=number of players. In other words:
|# of players
||Target Score (2n2)
Round: A plays 3, B plays 10, C plays 3, D plays 10, E plays 3.
Result: B and D form Corporation 10 and leave their 10 cards face up to show this.
Round: A=7, B=5, C=7, D=7, E=7
Result: B, having played an unmatched card, gets 5 points. A, C, E do not get Corporate Rewards because D played the same card as them. A, C, E take their 3 cards back into their hands, B and D take back their 10 cards. A, C, D and E now form the new Corporation 7 and leave their 7 cards face up to indicate this.
Round: A=5, B=10, C=5, D=5, E=5
Result: B, having again played an unmatched card, gets 10 points. A, B, D, E get Corporate Rewards: 20 points a piece ([value of played card] x [number of people in the Corporation] = 5 x 4 = 20). A,B,D,E Take their 7 cards back into their hand and form a new Corporation by leaving their 5 cards face up.
Table Talk: Table talk (and lying, and betrayal) is encouraged. The one rule governing negotiations: all statements to other players must be “open”: conducted so that all the other players can hear them. That means no whispering or going into another room. But if someone missed something because they weren’t paying attention or were involved in another conversation, you are under no obligation to repeat anything.
Tips and Notes: Team up with a few other greedy players to form Corporations and reap the big bucks, but if someone is pulling ahead don’t hesitate to defect. Smaller Corporations are generally better than big ones: a Corporation with a lot of members pays off better, but (a) you’ll be a target for other players, (b) it’s hard to get a lot of people to cooperate, and (c) if everyone reaps the same Corporate Rewards then no one really pulls ahead. Also, pay attention to what cards the members of a Corporation have in front of them, and bear in mind that they will be unable to play these cards on the next round. Conversely, form Corporations with low cards so you can use your high cards for Corporate Rewards.
August 19th, 2002
It was, like, Super 80’s Dance Party USA! at my gym today. The sound system was set to volume 8, and we were treated to George Michael, Scritti Politi, New Order, Mr. Mister, The Boomtown Rats — The Boomtown Rats, fer crissakes! It was the friggin’ “20 Minute Workout” in there. Certainly a welcome break from the usual fare of Pink and Nelly, but I felt kinda naked without my legwarmers.
Nothing leads to cognitive dissonance like hauling ass on a treadmill while Frankie says “Relax”.
August 19th, 2002
An email I wrote to The Brunching Shuttlecocks has been printed, forever ensuring that the Google search “Matthew Baldwin Fucker” will not come up empty.
August 19th, 2002
In the last week I have read two Coffee Table books, each by a collector, each about the history of an interactive device. The first was Reinventing the Wheel, a book I picked up after Jason Kottke declared it “highly recommended“. But while I don’t doubt that Kottke actually enjoyed the book, my guess is that most people purchasing Reinventing will not read it themselves, but instead give it as a gift or throw it onto an endtable to impress houseguests.
Maybe I’m wrong, but I, personally, only read half of it before my interest petered out. Reinventing The Wheel is a compendium of photos and descriptions of “Wheel Charts” — those cardboard calculation tools used to determine what color goes best with your bedspread, what stars you should see in your nighttime sky, and which ingredients you’ll require to whip up some Devilled Crab. The book opens with an fascinating introduction covering the invention and evolution of these wheels (called “volvelles” in earlier times). It’s an excellent essay, one that whet my appetite for the 93 pages of plates to follow.
But after looking at only a dozen of the plates — each showing a photograph of a specific wheel and offering a complete description of its creation and function — I felt like a guy at a party, cornered by someone going on and on about their hobby. (If you’ve ever had the misfortune of hearing me get going on the Evils Of The State Lottery or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you are painfully aware of the feeling I am trying to describe.) The Wheel Charts are ingenious and involved, but, taken as a whole, it was a bit like reading every bus schedule at the station. Eventually I put this Coffee Table book on my coffee table, and later thumbed through it a few more times while waiting for various levels of my video game to load.
I felt no such apathy towards Supercade: A Visual History of the Videogame Age. This was a book I simply couldn’t put down (except when I had to, because the sheer weight of it was making my arms tired). Unlike Reinventing, the introduction here was a bit extraneous. Author Van Burnham traces the genesis of the video game to the creation of the atomic bomb, which is as intriguing as it is arbitrary — you get the feeling that she could have just as easily tied the origin of the video game to the transistor, the television, or the invention of fire. But the plates in this book — wow! Nearly very major arcade game from the years 1971 – 1984 is shown, each accompanied by a description of game play, mention of the game’s evolutionary ancestors and descendants, and an account of how it fared on the market. Although the focus is on upright “cabinet” games, Supercade also reviews the major home systems of the era: Atari, IntelliVision, ColecoVision and so forth.
It took me a few hours and a couple of beers, but I read every damned page in Supercade — this despite the fact that I was already intimately familiar with nearly every game depicted, having played them all as a kid (and then watched them all played on Starcade). Some of the Supercade reviews on Amazon.com claim that the text in this book is all cribbed from other sources, but it was new to me and I wolfed it down.
So, what am I saying, here? That I recommend Supercade and give a thumbs down to Reinventing the Wheel. No. Technically, Reinventing is the better of the two — the writing is more polished, the lay-out is superior (Supercade, like the games it covers, is terribly busy, almost on par with Wired magazine), and if you were to throw both onto your Coffee Table, more people would probably pick it up for a skim. But Supercade pushed all my buttons, and Reinventing left me cold. But it’s worth noting that in neither case did I read the book the way it was intended to be read. Books like this are designed to be leafed through by guests to your homes as they wait on a couch or sit on the john. They are also designed, from a marketing stand-point, as “gift books” — you don’t have a present for Kevin’s birthday, you run to Barnes and Noble, you think “Kevin likes Playstation, so I’ll get him this book on video games” and you purchase it, despite the fact that you’ve not read it yourself nor heard it endorsed. Frankly, as “gift books” you probably can’t go wrong with either of these. (If the Birthday Boy is, in fact, a boy, and in his 30’s, Supercade is almost a sure thing. It’s also an expensive thing, at $50 to Reinventing‘s $25.) It just a matter of asking yourself which the the recipient be more likely to have: a paper cut or Nintendo thumb. Choose your book accordingly.