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Subject: Picking a Pig... Very Carefully. rss

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jon beall
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The Scene

On a sunny afternoon in Plainfield, IL at the Wandering Dragon Game Shoppe I unpacked the deck of cards for Pick-a-Pig. I laid the cards in a grid, and explained the rules to John and Ava, a brother and sister that were interested in a game where they could compete head to head. They were fascinated by the whimsical art on the cards, and looked carefully as they observed differences between the pigs on the cards.

The Rules

Pick-a-Pig is a quick game, and the rules explanation only took five minutes:

Each player would be given a card, face down. This card would be their captain. When the round starts, each of them would flip their card over, and pick up cards one-handed from the center of the table. Each card that they pick up would need to be either the same as the card they were holding, or would have only one change.

If they had a pig with one arm, they could select a card with a pig with two arms. If they had a large pig, they could select an identical small pig. When they didn't think they could select any more animals, they could slap the table and yell "STOP!"

The players would examine the cards left on the table; if they found one that could have been selected then the player prematurely eding the round would forfeit their cards.

A player that had followed the rules would be able to keep the cards they picked up from the round. These cards would represent their points.

The Play

I could tell that John was interested in the idea of slapping the table and yelling "STOP!" at the end of a round. Sure enough, after only 4 or 5 cards being picked up, he ended the round by slapping the table with a tremendous amount of gusto. His zeal was short-lived, however, as a nearby player pointed out a card he could have grabbed from the center of the table. Since he had prematurely ended the round, he lost any cards he had collected during the round.

Ava, his sister, was more cautious. She had only collected four cards, but she illustrated that each one was identical or had only one change from the card collected before it.

In round 2, John was second-guessing himself on each card pulled. He looked at me, trying to ask if the card he was picking up was ok. His sister was playing more confidently, and after three cards she yelled "STOP!". She was able to keep her three cards, but John had only picked up 1 card because he kept second-guessing himself.

Round 3 started, and both players were getting more intense about collecting cards in sequence. John and Ava were much more evenly matched this round, but Ava continued to have the upper hand, due to in large part to her early lead.

As the game concluded, both players wanted to pick up a copy of the game so they could continue playing at home. They loved the fast and furious play, combined with the art on the cards. In particular, they really liked the popcorn pictured with some of the pigs on the cards.
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