Saturday, March 16, 2002

SpinBall and other dexterity games

Looking at the general category of "dexterity games", it's one of the
few kinds of games I tend to be quite bad at, yet still enjoy a great
deal. This is not to say I only enjoy winning, but if one loses
a lot, it can be somewhat less fun.

I define dexterity games fairly broadly, including essentially any
game where manual dexterity impacts the outcome of the game. Among my
favorite dexterity games are Crokinole, Loopin' Louie, SpinBall,
Hamster Rolle, and Pounce. All of these are worth writing more about,
but for now I'm going to discuss SpinBall, since I just got my copy.

SpinBall is a game by href=""> Aaron
Weissblum which is basically described in its href="">
BoardGameGeek entry. The description doesn't really do it justice
though. Essentially this is a game of trick shots. Because of the
nature of the surface and the the ball, you can put so much spin on
the ball that you get some very elaborate series of bounces, all of
which seem to defy basic physics.

With inexperienced/less skilled players (such as me), you just shoot
for points, and this is challenging enough. However, once the players
get somewhat better, the blockers become critical. Often, one player
is very good with a single shot, and somewhat less skilled with
several other shots. Their opponent may be skilled with two shots,
but not so much with any others. As soon as the second player scores,
they can block their opponent's only good shot, and start racking up
points. That is, until their opponent scores twice with their less
practiced shots and blocks the second player's only two shots.

The variety of shots that can be made in this game is remarkable.
Everything ranging from the three standard shots (straight/back,
single ricochet, and double ricochet) to center bounces to "wall
hugger" shots make this an amazing game to watch as well as play.

It may not be as strategic as partnership Hamster Rolle, as silly as
Loopin' Louie or as stressfull as Pounce, but it really has a quality
that no other dexterity game I've played has; it seems like magic.

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