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Subject: Black Vienna Fingers: An Attempt To Eradicate The Confusion rss

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Nairb Attobas
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The purpose of this review is two-fold. Similar to a reversible raincoat where you purchase one raincoat, but you really get two; with this review you're really getting TWO reviews! What a bargain!

As I suggested in the title of this review, the purpose of this article is to compare and contrast two items that are often confused with one another: the logical deduction game, Black Vienna, and the popular sandwich cookie, Vienna Fingers.

I know what you're thinking: How could anyone possibly mistake a logical deduction game for a sandwich cookie? The thing is, chances are you're looking at this scenario from the perspective of a Board Game Geek. You already know the major distinctions that seperate boardgames from light, buttery, creme-filled treats. To your average global citizen, these distinctions can be a bit subtle, and so I am taking it upon myself to highlight the similarities and differences between the two, in addition to providing a critical opinion for both.

PLEASE NOTE: Since I have only played Black Vienna using my home-made set, I will be primarily discussing the gameplay of Black Vienna, not the quality of its components, as I have not experienced them first-hand. This is simply due to the fact that the game is woefully out of print, and, therefore, difficult to find.

ANOTHER NOTE: For ease of reading, those parts of the article which correspond to Vienna Fingers will be colorized a friendly red color.

=========================
HOW I OBTAINED BOTH ITEMS
=========================

Black Vienna can be easily reconstructed using the files found on its respective BGG page: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/756. There's a PDF file containing all the cards you'll need, along with a handy notation sheet you can print out, and there's a link that contains the translated rules. You will need poker chips, or pennies, or some other form of markers in addition to the cards. Chances are you already own something that will suffice. Unfortunately, since this game is out of print, it will not be readily found in game shops.

Vienna Fingers can be found in just about any grocery store in the United States. Check the cookie aisle. The package is predominantly red.

ADVANTAGE: Vienna Fingers

==========================
PRICE POINT FOR BOTH ITEMS
==========================

Free, assuming you make your own set.
Quite a lot, if you go hunting for an actual copy of the game.

About $3.00 a pack. Price may vary based on geography.

ADVANTAGE: Tie

============================
OUTWARD APPEARANCE OF ITEMS
============================

A deck of cards, with some chips to be used as markers.

Cylindrically-shaped, beige-colored wafers with white creme mashed in the middle. They are crispy in texture, and rather large as compared to other kinds of cookies. They also do vaguely resemble fingers, as the name indicates, which is slightly disturbing.

ADVANTAGE: Black Vienna (since it doesn't look like creepy, cookie fingers)

==========================
HOW TO SET UP BOTH ITEMS
==========================

There are two kinds of cards: Suspect Cards, and Investigation Cards.

Suspect Cards have one letter of the alphabet on them. There are 27 of them, though. But, wait! You said they each had a letter of the alphabet on them! How can there be 27??? Easy, there's one that contains an 'O' with an umlaut over it. Looks like this: Ö. Thank you, charmap.exe!

Investigation Cards have 3 different letters on them. There are 36 of them.

Keep both decks of cards seperate.

Shuffle all the Suspect Cards, but remove three of them, returning them to the box. These will be the members of the "Black Vienna" crime syndicate. The object of the game is to figure out which three cards are in the box, similar to the oft-maligned Clue. Deal the rest of the cards out evenly to all the players. (If there are only 5 players, the dealer only gets 4, while everybody else gets 5.)

Shuffle all the Investigation Cards together, and seperate them into 3 piles of 12 cards each. Put these three piles in the center of the table. Flip the top card of each pile over, so they are visible to all players.

Open up the plastic wrap around the cookies, and take them out of the plastic tray. Take as many of them as you would like, but be sure not to spoil your dinner. (For you indecisive types, the suggested number of cookies can be found listed on the packaging.)

ADVANTAGE: Vienna Fingers

======================
HOW TO USE BOTH ITEMS
======================

The first player chooses a card from the top of one of the three Investigation Card piles, and puts it in front of another player. That player then looks at their hand and determines how many of the letters represented on the Investigation Card they are holding among their Suspect Cards. They then put that number of chips on the Investigation Card that is in front of them. Cards with chips on them will remain in front of that player for the duration of the game. In the circumstance that the player has none of the cards listed, they will play no chips on the card.

PAR EXAMPLA: Oglethorpe takes an Investigation Card with the letters B, P, and W on it, and places it in front of Emory. Emory has the Suspect Card "P" in his spiky appendage. He puts one chip on the card, designating that he is holding one, and only one, of those cards in his spiky appendage. This card will remain in front of him for the duration of the game.

Game play proceeds with the player who was forced to respond to the Investigation Card. (In our example, Emory would have the next turn.)

SPECIAL NOTE: When every player has at least one Investigation Card in front of them, and there are at least a total of 6 played Investigation Cards on the table, the active player is allowed to select an Investigation Card that has zero chips on it that had previously been played in front of any player (including himself), in addition to an Investigation Card off of one of the three central piles. The responding player must place chips appropriately on both of these cards.

Play continues until one player has enough information to announce that they have determined which three Suspect Cards have been left in the box: which suspects are in the "Black Vienna," as it were. They write down their solution on their sheet, and check the contents of the box.

If they are correct, the game is over, and they will have won.

If they are incorrect, they will have lost, but continue playing as normal, except that they are not allowed to make another accusation.

If all players fail to guess the correct solution, the game ends with nobody winning.

Grab a cookie with your hand. Put it in your mouth (the cookie, not your hand). Chew, until mushy. Swallow, when feasible. Repeat, as desired.

ADVANTAGE: Vienna Fingers.

=====================
CLEANING UP ITEMS
=====================

Remove the chip markers from the cards, gather up all the cards, and place everything back in the box.

Put the cookie tray back in the bag without ripping the plastic. This can be difficult, if not impossible. The downfall of ripping the plastic is that the cookies may go stale the next time you try to eat them. If possible, put the remaining cookies in a cookie jar, or, even better, a Tupperware container. Be sure to clean up any crumbs that you may have made while eating the cookies, as they might attract bugs, animals, or small children. This can also be especially difficult if you were eating the cookies while laying in bed, since the crumbs will get tucked in with the wrinkles of the sheets.

ADVANTAGE: Black Vienna

==========================
THOUGHTS ABOUT BOTH ITEMS
==========================

Black Vienna is a very enjoyable logical deduction game. If you enjoy doing Sudoku puzzles, then there's a very good chance that you will enjoy this game, as I experience similar sensations from playing this game as I do completing those puzzles.

The key to successful play is devising your own efficient note-taking system. If you can keep solid, accurate notes, and perform accurate deductions from those notes, then there's a good chance that you will fare well. Unlike other logic games, if you make one bad assumption, it does not necessarily make it impossible for you to win, since all the revealed information always remains visible on the table, and is therefore re-trackable. Much like Sudoku puzzles, if it happens that you goof somewhere in your note-taking, you can step backwards through your notes and discover where you made your error, and then rectify it. Since there's only one possible correct answer, when conflicting notes appear on your sheet, it will be clear when you've made an error.

One note: If somebody puts an incorrect amount of chips on an Investigation Card in front of them, then it is possible that the game will be impossible to win, since all the Investigators will be working on false information to make their deductions. This is obviously to be avoided at all costs.

While playing this game, it's common practice for everybody to constantly be engrossed in their note-taking sheet. There's generally very little table-talk, as all the players are generally always updating their notes when new information becomes available.

The game plays pretty quickly, and since there's a lot of notes to be made at all times, it feels like there is very little downtime, even if you have not been selected to place chips in quite some time. A round could probably be completed in anywhere from 30 - 60 minutes; depending on how quickly the players are able to write their notes.

This game does require quite a bit of thought, so it may not be the best game to bust out at the very end of a long gaming session. You'll probably have better results if you choose this to be one of the first games you play, as it'll be a great opportunity for everybody's brain to get warmed up.

Black Vienna is a definite step-up from Clue, as it distills the fun of logical deduction from the game, but removes the annoying luck-driven roll-and-move aspect. I've not played Sleuth, so I can't compare that to Black Vienna.

Vienna Fingers are tasty and delicious, although it's not advisable to make a meal of them. Enjoying them in moderation is the key. You don't get very many in a single bag, either, and even if you eat the recommended dosage, they'll probably run out fairly quickly if you enjoy them regularly. As a result, you might find yourself purchasing numerous bags to reap the same level of satisfaction. The necessity to constantly repurchase is an unfortunate side effect of fully enjoying this item.

ADVANTAGE: Black Vienna

======================
CONCLUSION
======================

There ends my critical analysis of Black Vienna and Vienna Fingers. Now that you have a better idea of what both of these items are, there's very little chance that you could confuse the two of them with one another. Be sure to share this information with others, so that everyone can have the benefit of this knowledge. Last thing we want is to have people chewing on decks of cards, in the hope of reaching the yummy white creme that isn't going to be there; or having people try to logically deduce which non-descript cookies are remaining in the package after they've eaten half of the cookies.

If I can help put an end to this confusion, then I will have made the world a better place.
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Robin Wilkes
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Re: Black Vienna Fingers: An Attempt To Eradicate The Confus
Bravo, sir. More reviews, please, and soon.
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Kane Klenko
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Very nice review. I just wish someone had written a review like this before I dipped all of my Apples to Apples cards in caramel.
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Jeff Coon
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Thank you for this excellent review. Based on the initial play, how does the reviewer think Black Vienna compares to another tasty treat, Vienna Sausages?

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Brilliant

Pure Genius - a little tip for this outstanding and fun to read review.
 
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Anthony Goodwin
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A thumb for a great review and an Aqua Teen Hunger Force reference.
 
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