Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Racing Demon - King of Games

Racing Demon is, as its name suggests, a game of beating everyone else with speed and in that sense, it’s a very poor example of a social game because it breaks all the rules of turn-taking and patience! However it is absolutely brilliant for sequencing, toning those reaction times, for visual attention, concentration, memory, spatial organisation, fine motor skills and maths....and all without a playstation in sight!

Better still, the way we play it, everyone actually has a very good chance of winning. In fact even my 90 year old grandmother occasionally used to win, much to the extreme amusement of everyone including herself.

Honesty is a vital ingredient but of course, that should go without saying amongst the wonderful bunch that we are! It should be noted that a bit of card counting in this game is regarded with a certain degree of awe, and is not strictly dishonest, although there may be some players left with seething, resentful questions as to whether this should be so!

Any number of people can join in: the more the merrier. We used to play with approx 20 peeps of all ages and ability around a table. Pure unadulterated fun and a manic order in apparent chaos.

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Each player starts with a complete pack of cards. It’s important that each pack has a different design or colour on the back.

At the word "Go" the games starts. You play as fast as you can from now on!

First off, each player deals a pile of 13 cards face up. This is called the "Pile”. The object of the game is to get rid of your Pile before anybody else does and you do this in a number of different ways. (See below). If you do manage to get rid of your Pile before anyone else, you shout "OUT" as frantically and as loudly as seems necessary. All play stops immediately and you earn an extra 10 points for winning.

After dealing your Pile of 13, four more cards are then dealt out in a line face up next to the Pile. This is known as the "Line of 4"

The rest of the cards are kept in your hand.

Look at your Pile and Line of 4. Have you got an ace amongst them? If you have, put it into the middle of the table, quick as you can of course - there's not a moment to lose! If the ace has come from your Line of 4, replace the ace card with one from your Pile, so that you still have a Line of 4, thus reducing your Pile to 12 cards - Hooray, you are on your way to winning!

The aces in the middle are now available for everyone to use. They become the basis of a "Stack." Everyone can stack on anyone else's aces, going from the ace, to two, three, four, five, six etc, up to Jack, Queen, King. You must follow the suit of the ace at the base of the Stack. So if someone has put out an ace of hearts, it must be followed by a two of hearts.

Should you happen to have a two of hearts in your Line of 4 or on top of your Pile, slam it down on top of the ace of hearts before anyone else does. Get there as quick as you can for you can be darn sure that some other sod will be trying to beat you to it!

And don't forget, if the two of hearts came out of your Line of 4, replace it with a card from your Pile, thus reducing your Pile and getting closer to winning.

Remember...(unless you have just won and got rid of your Pile), you should always have your Pile and a Line of 4 in front of you.

If someone else does beat you to that two of hearts, tough! You will have to wait for someone to put out another ace of hearts.

OK, back to looking for at your Pile and Line of 4. If there is nothing you can put out in the middle, you can look to do something else to reduce your Pile. This is called "Laddering". With Laddering, you pile onto your Line of 4. Unlike making the Stacks in the middle, Laddering does not follow the suits and does not go upwards. With Laddering, you go down in number and use alternate colour cards. So if you have a black seven and a red six in your Line of 4, you could put the red six on your black seven, and replace the missing card (the six) in the Line of 4 with another from your Pile. (Hooray...even closer to winning). If you then should happen to have a black five, say on the top of your Pile, you could put that on the red six etc. (You can ladder from your top card on your Pile too.)

Still no joy or are you now stuck, ie: you can neither Stack in the middle nor Ladder? Now you use the rest of your cards in your hand....known as the "Pack". Go through your Pack three at a time and as quickly as possible, of course. If you come across a card that can be used either for building up the Stacks in the middle or for helping with your Laddering, pop it on, pdq.

All the time you are going through your Pack, keep watching for opportunities to move any cards from either your Line of 4 or your Pile onto the Stacks in the middle.

Keep going through your hand as quickly as you can, piling upwards on the Stacks and Laddering. Every card you put out onto a Stack will count as one point in your final score, so try to get as many cards out on the Stacks as you can.

There is a picture of what the game could look like here. (They seem to have got it right, despite calling the game Nerts and calling the piles by different names!)

When a Stack approaches completion, get really alert! The last card on a Stack is of course, the King, and if you manage to put the King on the Stack, you claim the Stack and remove the Stack from the middle, keeping it somewhere near you. I usually quickly put it on the floor. Once you have put the king on the Stack, this Stack is known as your "King" and it counts as an extra five points at the end of the game. This is why getting the King is a good idea.

Once someone has managed to get rid of their Pile and has shouted "OUT", play stops immediately.

All of the players who didn't win should then count up how many cards they have left in their Pile. They must remember this number. The number of cards they have left in their Pile will be subtracted from the rest of their score.

Each player should then bunch his Pack with the remaining cards in his Pile and Line of 4, and put this bunch aside for the moment.

The players should then sort out the cards from the Stacks and the Kings that have been removed from the table, and players should then collect their own cards from this sorting. They should then count these cards. Each card counts as one point. If they made a King, they should add 5 bonus points to this score.

They then should subtract the number of cards that were left in their Pile from the total that they made in the Stack. It is perfectly possible, even if you aren't 96, to make a minus number. There is not necessarily much humiliation in that! (See below for the handicapping system).

The winner though will definitely be quids up. He will have nothing to subtract, (as he got rid of his Pile), and he will add his bonus 10 points to the number of cards he got out on the Stacks.

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Someone familiar with the scoring system can manage this. Don't worry about it if you are new to the whole thing and have enough to think about already.

Handicapping is a great system if you have players of very different skill levels as it gives everyone a reasonable chance of winning at some stage.

How it works:

Create a score board, with players names/initials at the top of columns.

After the first game, write down the scores that everyone made in the appropriate columns.

The person with the highest score in the first game, ie: nearly always the person who shouted "OUT", will then be required to put out 14 cards in his Pile in the next game. The person who made the lowest score will only be required to put out 12 cards in the next game. Make a note of the changes to the number of cards a player will need to put out in his next pile next to his score.

After the second game, write down the scores from the second game and total them up with the first game too. The winner of the second game will be required to put one more card in his Pile for the subsequent game. The person with the highest total number of points overall will also be required to put one more card in the Pile in the subsequent game. If this one and the same person, this person will be required to put 2 more cards into his Pile in the next game.

The loser in the second game will be required to put out one less card out in his Pile. The overall loser will also be required to put out one less card. If this is one and the same person, he can put out 2 fewer cards in the next game.

The scorer should make a note of these requirements next to the players' scores.

It has been known for the very new, young or generally infirm to get down to a pile of O, in which case they can say, "GO" then "OUT" and score a bonus of 10 immediately, whilst all around them will be minus their pile. Tee hee...not such a bad plan!

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Good luck and have fun. And one fine day, I plan on beating my dear mama in a straight match.


Sarah said...

I love this game. When I learnt it we called it Nurtz (which I suppose is the same as Nerts although I never saw it written down and I think my spelling is prettier). Think we learnt it from a Canadian so perhaps Nurtz is the american/canadian name?

Unfortunately most people outside of my immediate family refuse to play with me!

Carlotta said...

I definitely prefer your spelling and yes, I also have your problem with persuading others to play. Perhaps it looks so complicated to start of with which is a shame as it is really worth putting in that initial effort.

Am very much hoping to persuade other HEors who are planning on going to a camp in the nearish future, to learn before we go so we can play there.

I once did manage to teach some young teen friends the game whilst on a long weekend away. They proceded to play it solidly for four days, by which time I had had just about had my fill of it for that week at least!

emma said...

Racing Demon is my name also

It's not "the pile", it's "the demon"

We never kept score, just had the handicapping system, so someone really rubbish can have the satisfaction of winning a hand without being aware that they are 1000 points down.

and yes, best played with at least 10 people. I have wonderful memories of two or three mothers with demons of about 26 and all the children with smaller and smaller demons. By the time I was a teen, I was matching them :-)

Carlotta said...

The Demon is definitely a better word! I was thinking of all the Todd-like double entrendres when I used the Pile word, but couldn't make myself use another, it was so deeply entrenched!

I think I also have some lurking fear that if I change a word, I might not play so well, which is possibly true as it would make me have to multitask even more.

I like the idea of not keeping score too.

Anonymous said...

"Am very much hoping to persuade other HEors who are planning on going to a camp in the nearish future, to learn before we go so we can play there."

Was just going to ask if we can play it there

We need a gathering somewhere to teach us, before then.

Don't do it at the next couple of Malvern meetings-we can't go!
Can you come to the meeting near Bromsgrove on Tuesday?
The 'organised' activity doesn't start til 3pm so we could get a good session in before then??


Carlotta said...

Eek...can't believe we have another clash of meetings - our very local one is on again....What to do!

How about teaching it at Malvern, and then hoping that someone can take it on to Blackwell?

Or you all come here for a practice sesh!

Anonymous said...

what about you do it at malvern-and suggest folks bring it to Blackwell in March AND we come to your place for a practice session??

being cheeky now!

Carlotta said...

Now that seems thoroughly sensible. Will get it sorted!

Anonymous said...

Also shall we be organised and actually set up a philosohy debating evening for the week we are away??

But we will just have to organise it for one of the evenings when you don't sneak home..............


ducking and running now........!