Monday, April 03, 2006

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Visionary

A couple of years ago I encountered a wonderful German game called Visionary (see the rules here), by Schmidt Spiele. It appears to be out of print, but a German friend says they can get it there, and I'll bring one back when I'm there in June.

I was surprised at how much I liked it, actually. The players divide into teams — we had four players, two teams. The game consists of identical sets of different-shaped blocks (one set for each team) and a deck of cards, each depicting a structure that can be built by stacking the blocks. Each team designates a builder (each member of the team takes a turn at that), who is blindfolded. A card is turned up, and the builder's team members instruct the builder on building the structure.

We found that players soon get pretty good at sorting out how to describe the pieces and their positions on the table (and how to find them by feel), and at how to orient and stack them. Only verbal instructions are allowed — no touching. One of the significant challenges for the builder is that some of the structures are easily toppled, especially when one can't see (one must generally keep one hand on the structure, in order to avoid knocking it over when one goes back to it).

We also found that we had to make "house rules" about exactly how closely the final structure must match what's on the card. If the card, for instance, shows a slight overhang, how much overhang is allowed in the finished structure for it to be considered correct?

There was also an interesting language effect: We had two Americans on one team, and two Germans on the other. The Germans, who both speak excellent English, decided to instruct each other in German, thinking that they could then overhear our instructions, as well as their own, and that we would not be able to do the same. As it turned out, not only did it not help to try to listen to two instructions at once, but it took them longer to say things in German than it took us to say them in English, giving us an advantage (since whichever builder is done first claims that card). When they switched to English as well, the game was more even.

It's a fun game. I'm looking forward to getting my copy and trying it again.

1 comment:

wooddragon said...

Schmidt's last name makes me suspicous that it's a pseudonym...