Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Chronicles of Skip-Bo, Volume I

Standing in the kitchen drying sippy cups while we wait for a Biblical, rise-from-the dead revival miracle out of our busted dishwasher and I hear some of the best and worst words from a small voice from another room.

"Daddy, wanna play Skip-Bo with us?"

"Well, I have some things I need to do..."

"...I already have it set up."

From the makers of Waterboarding? Too much?
Skip-Bo is a tedious, torturous slogfest of a card game where you try to rid yourself of your pile of cards by playing them in sequential order in the middle along with your opponents. Games typically take 30-45 minutes unless you have my kids and a restless mind. Then they take 16 hours while your mind volleys back and forth between yardwork, paperwork, bills, broken down appliances, projects and other things you need to get done. When will that stuff get done? Who will


"I'm coming...just, give me..."

"Do you want to play with 30, 20, or..."

"FIFTEEN. Twelve if we can, or ten...I thought you had it set up already?"

Games are more palatable when the piles are 15 cards. More palatable like Kraft Mac & Cheese versus Velveeta. It's still better than folding kids' laundry.

"OK, let's go."

Anal retentive card players get tested when they play with kids. The game has already been set up, and while I totally believe my daughter has not "set the deck" in her favor, I wonder if her small hands and erratic shuffling were enough to sufficiently randomize the cards. In a game where sequences are made, an unshuffled deck could result in too many natural sequences which increases the luck factor and decreases the skill factor. However, if it will make the game go quicker, I'll let it go. But then I see three random cards lying off to the side.

"What are those three cards? No, don't LOOK at them! Just put them on the bottom of the big pile, or in the middle, or put them in different places in the middle..."

Kids take winning and losing seriously. and any kid will tell you that the key to winning is going first. As if the game is the 100-meter dash in the Olympics and someone gets an undeserved head start. Sometimes going first is actually more important than the final result. And yet these kids can't understand the concept of a good, thorough shuffle? Kids, I tells ya...

Luckily my daughter is a born rules follower. and it was written that the youngest player goes first. So every time we play this game our 5-year-old son goes first. We've erased at least 10-15 minutes of infighting, intense negotiations, deal-making, deal-breaking, bribery, and hurt feelings just by following the rules.

The problem though, is in who goes SECOND. If the youngest goes first, it stands to the reason that the second-youngest goes second, right? Unfortunately, we have sat our butts such that our oldest child is to the right of her younger brother.

"Stop. There is no game in civilization where play runs counter-clockwise."

"What's counter-clockwise mean?"

"Like this," (makes a swirling motion)


"Instead of like a clock, which goes this way." (swirls in the other direction)


"Like a clock. Except backwards..."

Of course every clock they've encountered has been digital. Microwaves, phones, iPads...

"Here. We'll switch places."

We aren't playing counter-clockwise. And in games of four or more, we are not playing in some ridiculous star pattern. Just gives the kids one more thing to fight about when we all lose track of whose turn it is.

All that said, I think we're ready to play. Stay tuned for Volume II...

No comments:

Post a Comment