A Gnome's Ponderings

I'm a gamer. I love me some games and I like to ramble about games and gaming. So, more than anything else, this blog is a place for me to keep track of my ramblings. If anyone finds this helpful or even (good heavens) insightful, so much the better.
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Lowell Kempf
United States
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A few entries ago, someone commented that Mosaix, a game that I’ve been pondering picking up, was probably based on High Score. I had never heard of High Score so I did the only reasonable thing that I could do and looked it up.

High Score, also known as Wurfel Bingo, belongs to that school of games that I think of as the Take It Easy school. These games are legitimately multi-player solitaire games where each player has their own board and there is no interaction, apart from possibly spilling your coffee onto an opponent’s lap to distract them. There is competition, though, since you are trying to get a higher score than everyone else.

I’m not quite sure why I enjoy these games so much. However, people clamber to play them and ask for them by name so I guess I’m not alone. I’ve had devoted diehard gamers and people who wouldn’t know Puerto Rico if it somehow bit them all enjoy and request Take It Easy.

High Score is one of those ideas that is so fundamentally simple that you wonder why you never thought of it before. Not only that, I also found myself wondering why I had never even heard of it before.

Each player has a five by five grid on a dry erase board and a marker. Two six-sided dice are rolled and each player puts their sum in an empty square. When every space is filled, you assess every column and row, as well as the two diagonals, as poker hands. Scores range from one pair being worth just one point while a straight without a 7 is worth a whopping twelve points. The diagonal scores are doubled. Play three rounds and whoever has the most points wins.

See? Simple as vanilla ice cream.

Of course, I had to try it out. Not trying it out would be like a vampire movie that didn’t have the gang of teenagers split up in the haunted house.

I have played it with both my fiancé and with my regular board game group. And, the end consensus was that it was a pretty good game that people enjoyed and wanted to play again. One player even said that he’d like to see a variant where you use actual cards instead of the dice to create matrix of poker hands.

Since we are talking about folks that have all played Take It Easy and Cities, what was it about High Score that made it stand out? The answer has to be in the dice.

In Take It Easy and similar games, the odds of any given tile being drawn is equal. When you’re looking at two dice, that’s not the case as anyone who has ever played Can’t Stop or Settlers of Catan will tell you. You’re a whole lot more likely to roll a seven than you are to roll a two or a twelve, which is why the highest scoring possibility in High Score involves one of those two numbers but not a seven.

High Score is a game that is all about playing the odds or backing the long shot. You still hear plenty of swearing during it, just like during Take It Easy but you go into it with the knowledge of how you’re playing with the bell shaped curve of the dice.

Which also meant that sometimes people’s boards actually do look alike, something I generally don’t see in Take It Easy.

Not a game that will shake my world but a filler that people are already asking to play again, one made out of very simple ideas but ideas that work.
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