Friday, May 29, 2015

[100 New Ways to Play Classic Games] Alternative Candy Land Rules #1, #2, #3, #4 and #5


As a parent of younger children, my twin daughters History and Mystery are 7 years old, I get to play a lot of games that consistently receive low ratings at Board Game Geek. This is not due to a lack of board game diversity in the household, rather to the kinds of games that tend to be designed for younger players and the opinions that "sophisticated" hobby game experts tend to have regarding the kinds of games targeted at children. Briefly stated, there is a strong bias against "kids' games."



The bias doesn't stem from a lack of interest in the topics or settings used to inspire kids games, rather the bias seems to be a bias against "primitive" game play. Many children's games are simplified "track games" where the objective of play is to get from the start square to the finish square and in doing so win the game. A quick visit to the Candy Land webpage shows us that the average BGG rating for the game is 3.19 which equates with the game being "Bad." The highest rating, a 6.944 is held by the fantastic game Loopin' Louie, and a 7 on BGG is supposed to be a "Good" game. Good, not excellent.

Source -- Board Game Geek Candy Land Page

Game ratings are subjective though and BGG's guidelines don't provide different scales or criteria for children's games and hobby games. This is a defensible position, but is less helpful to consumers who might wonder whether a game would be fun to "play with kids" instead of wondering if the game would be "fun all the time and forever challenging." I think that Candy Land scores very high on the first criteria, but falls flat on the second.  

Candy Land is a great first game. It's an even better tool for learning about game design. I personally rate the game as an 8 on BGG and think that those who rate it lower are not rating it as what it is. I've defended the game in an earlier post, but I've been intending to write a series of posts on "100 New Ways to Play Classic Games" for quite some time. There was a time when I wanted to write them down and run a Kickstarter to fund a book that collected them. Now I just want to share them as they come.

The idea was inspired by The Boardgame Remix Kit by Kevan Davis, Alex Fleetood, Holly Gramazio, and James Wallis as well as the classic New Rules for Classic Games by R. Wayne Schmittberger. Where both of those products included a couple of variants for a variety of games, I wanted to write a much larger number of variants for the games that I love. This would start with the quintessential Game Designer's toolkit that is Candy Land and move on to other games. Each game will be provided with as close to 100 alternate rules as I can think of and the alternate rules will be spread over a long series of posts instead of smashed into one post. All of the posts will be categorized under the [100 New Ways to Play Classic Games] label. 

Today's post will include 5 Alternative Candy Land rules for your use. Two of them have been previously published, but three are new.


Alternative Candy Land Rules
1) Bag Draw
In this version of "Candy Land," all of the cards are placed into a bag, or hat, and the players draw a random card from the bag on their turn, plays the card, and then places it in the discard pile. This makes the game more purely random, and eliminates the pre-determination factor of the game.

2) Bag Draw Variant

As published, Candy Land features a "broken Markov Chain" because possible future actions, and not merely results, are affected by prior draws. The cards in the discard pile are removed as possible outcomes. This variant of the Bag Draw rule eliminates that feature by returning cards to the deck and resetting the probability that any given card will be drawn in the future. 

In this variant, cards are immediately put back into the bag after it has been used for movement determination and the next player has the possibility of drawing that card from the bag.
3) 1 through 4 and Left or Right
In this variant, players shuffle the cards as normal at the beginning of the game thus setting the order of cards for the remainder of the game.  The first player draws as normal and is considered Player 1 for the remainder of the game.  The other players in counter-clockwise rotation are players 2 through 4. 
 After the first player's draw, all future draws are decided through the roll of a six-sided die.  On a result of 1 to 4, the player of that number draws the next card.  On a result of 5, the player to the left of the current player draws a card.  On a result of 6, the player to the right of the current player draws a card. 


4) Predestiny with Agency


Long time players of Candy Land quickly come to discover that the actual outcome of the game is decided before the first card is flipped. The order of the cards dictates the outcome. The game is a case study of predestination. This rule shakes that up a bit by adding a limited amount of player agency into the picture.

Once the cards have been shuffled, and the first player determined, draw the first ten cards and lay them adjacent to the top of the Candy Land board in the order they are drawn. These are the first 10 actions that will occur in the game. Each player is given ONE (1) opportunity to SKIP per 10 card draw. Only one player may skip any given card. To illustrate:

1) The First Player, in a two player game, would normally be required to move, but sees that the current card is Purple and the second card is a special that would move her significantly up the map, the First Player skips her turn forcing the Second Player to use that card.
2) The Second Player has one SKIP available for this draw, but since a player has already skipped this card the Second Player must use the card, but will get an opportunity later to SKIP a different card.

Once all 10 cards have been played, a new set of 10 cards are revealed and each player can now SKIP one of these cards. SKIPs cannot be carried over from one deal to the next.

5) Revealed Destiny with Agency

This variant continues our exploration of predestination by adding a limited amount of player agency in a slightly different way than the last alternate rule.

Once the cards have been shuffled, and the first player determined, draw all of the cards and lay them adjacent to the Candy Land board in the order they are drawn. The players can now see the entire map of actions that will occur in the game, and the order in which they will happen. Each player is given FOUR (4) opportunities to SKIP an action, but can regain one by accepting a special card that sends them backward. Only one player may skip any given card. To illustrate:

1) The First Player, in a two player game, would normally be required to move, but sees that the current card is Purple and the second card is a special that would move her significantly up the map, the First Player skips her turn forcing the Second Player to use that card.
2) The Second Player has one SKIP available for this draw, but since a player has already skipped this card the Second Player must use the card, but will get an opportunity later to SKIP a different card.

Once all 64 cards have been played, a new set of 64 cards are revealed and each player can now SKIP one of these cards with a refreshed FOUR (4) opportunities. SKIPs cannot be carried over from one deal to the next.

PRIOR POSTS ON CANDY LAND:

  • You Can Read My Defense of Candy Land Here.
  • You Can Read My Post on Candy Land as RPG Here.
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