Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Warm-up games

Last weekend, while I was cleaning out my office in preparation for a new semester, I uncovered one of my favorite card games: 6 Nimmt! by Wolfgang Kramer. It was lurking at the bottom of a box of random office junk (the kind of collection you get when you sweep everything off your workspace and into an empty paper box for "sorting later". I hope I'm not the only person who does this.) I haven't played, or even seen, the game for years. And finding it was like reuniting with an old friend.

6 Nimmt! (or Take 6 or Slide 5, if you have one of the English-language versions) is quick and easy to learn. It requires almost no preparation and no special tools (like a notepad or chips). Although the mechanics are simple, there is a surprising amount of strategy. But that's not what makes it special. To me, 6 Nimmt! is the perfect "warm-up game". Our board game club used to play it at the beginning of every event, while we waited for stragglers. The game accommodates anywhere from 2 to 10 players and each round only takes about 10 minutes. So a small group can start a game, then add in newcomers almost as soon as they arrive. And once you hit the maximum number of players, you have enough people to start two or three larger games.

To me, the warm-up very important. When I organize a gaming event, I want to get everyone playing as quickly as possible. There's nothing worse, especially for a new player, than hovering around the table, watching other people play a game and waiting for an invitation. Games like 6 Nimmt! are a great way to welcome people to an event and get them in the spirit for a session of good-natured competition. I highly recommend it.
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