I had given my brother a copy of Can't Stop for Christmas because the game reminded me of the hours we spent playing Yahtzee growing up. 4pm arrived--the magical hour on Christmas Day when all the children pass out from the day's excitement and give us grown-ups 2 solid hours of quiet. My brother (hereto forth known as Brother) and I opened the game and a few beers and got started.
Brother only had a passing interest in the game. He appeared as though he would rather nap along with his children. However, he was kind and decided to humor me with a few games. These "few games" would turn into a 10-hour marathon interrupted only by dinner and putting the kids to bed.
We used the Face to Face Games stop sign edition. The rules are pretty clear except for one factor which seems to be a big debate on BGG--must you use all your runners if you have to? Our interpretation of the rules was on the first roll, you must use both unless you can move one up two spaces (e.g. rolling 2-3-4-5 and taking 2 7s). Otherwise, you can hold onto any extra runners on subsequent rolls so long as you can move at least one active runner up. (I feel this interpretation is correct since the rules include Varient 3 where you must use runners as soon as you can.) We also played with Varient 2 in the rules that requires 5 columns to win a 2-player game instead of 3.
As with any Can't Stop virgin, Brother played way too aggressively in the first game and busted out on nearly all of his turns. He won the second game when he adopted a much more conservative strategy by stopping whenever any threat of busting loomed. We snuck in three more games before dinner, each one I soundly won and it put him on such a tilt that his decisions getting risky beyond reason (such as rolling again with runners on 2-5-12). In fact, when dinner rolled around, he sought revenge by passing wind in my face. Did I mention he's a 33-year-old father of three?
Despite, or because of, his tilt, Brother was really into the game. He was bummed that I would be the only person who would play him. His wife lost all interest in board games after hundreds of brutal Scrabble slaughters. At this point, his daughters (here identified by age) Agent 9 and Agent 5 took interest. Agent 9 had figured out the basics just by watching the previous game, so we held a few three player games. Agent 5 got the privilege of Brother's "teammate" since her goldfish attention span had her walk away from the table every five minutes. (Worse yet, she spends so much time rolling the dice without throwing them Sergio Garcia gets impatient.)
Agent 9 was surprisingly good. She finished a very close second in both games she played. She even started trash-talking her father, echoing some of the same words he said to me over those Yahtzee games 20 years ago. Brother recognized that the game can be a great learning tool for kids (from simple addition to more complex concepts such as risk/reward) while still being an entertaining game for adults. Thus, even after I went back home to Queens, he'd still have playing partners in his kids.
After the kids went to bed, Brother and I hit the final stretch. Despite entering the evening with a 6-2 lead, he fought back to 6-5. Our strategies were in constant flux. Some games we'd be conservative, some games we'd be aggressive. Holding the extra runner was definately the way to go. Occasionally, after filling up a column, it would leave you empty in the others, but this was rarely a problem for either of us.
Finally, with the clock nearing 1:30, we decided to play until one of us had a 2-game lead. Brother was big on "breaking", that is to say winning the game your opponent went first in. The 2-game win condition would be proof of that break. Despite not playing as well that evening due to vast quantities of beer and wine, I won the day with an 8-6 record.
I'm glad the gift was a big hit with him. It made me feel better after Agent 9 showed a startling amount of indifference towards Hey! That's My Fish!
Erik: This is a great story and it put a big smile on my face. There's nothing like some good game competition to bring out latent aggression in one's family.
This story is easily worth a GG- the first one I have given.
Hope this Christmas is even more interesting for you.