Where the inside of my mind leaks onto the screen.

Monday, March 3, 2014

My Mind is Blown

We have been playing this game for years.

As is the case with most of our favorite games, our friends Kevin and Alicia taught us to play at a game night at their house.  At the time, Kevin operated a board game company out of his basement, so - as is the case with most of our games - we bought a copy from Kevin.  We've taught multiple people how to play.  I included this game in the set of games I took backstage in Oklahoma! three years ago, teaching cast members to play as we waited for cues.

We taught this game to my dad, who I thought would be an expert at making the required pieces match the figure on the card.  We laughed as it turned out he was easily frustrated by the game, and even more frustrated by the fact that Jack kept beating him.

So when Julie Wrigley suggested Ubongo at Saturday's game night, I was thrilled.  Julie and I had each played before, but Michelle and Carmen Eggers were both new.  I taught the game, instructing them to place their cards in front of them, demonstrating with the dice symbols along the top, providing columns for each of the required piece sets.

We played for a few rounds with Julie and I having more success than the game's newcomers.  Noticing that Julie placed her board on the table in a different way than I had displayed, Michelle asked, "Is it easier when you have your board turned that way?

I hadn't noticed, but Julie's board was in fact opposite how I was using mine.  The quick consensus was that board direction certainly didn't matter.  But perhaps turning the board when one was stumped?  Perhaps a fresh perspective might just do the trick in solving the puzzles before the sand timer emptied.

We continued to play with the change-in-perspective tactic helping Michelle solve her puzzle in two consecutive rounds.  In the ensuing conversation, Carmen came up with a third option.  The card could be turned on its side.

Well, that looked just plain weird to me.  This newcomer was clearly out of her mind, altering the whole feel of the game with cards turned to a landscape orientation.  I quickly resolved to stick with my original card placement.  Until...

... wait!  When you turn it that way, the hieroglyphic dice symbols all become right side up!  No more elephant turned on its trunk!  No more thumb pointing awkwardly down!  I laughed to myself as I realized the sideways glyphs had never bothered me before (but now seemed intensely ridiculous).  

And then, I noticed it. There were people in the background of the puzzle!  People with jars on their heads, looking particularly cave wall-ish.  I turned my card back to what was becoming apparently wrong.  The people disappeared, replaced by the familiar cracks in the cave wall.  A reverse 90 degree rotation: the jar-headed people reappeared.  

"Kevin," I said, demanding his attention from the nearby table where he and several others were engaged in a particularly brutal round of Dominion.  "Hey, Kevin... did you know that if you turn these this way that the hieroglyphics are all right side up?  And look... there are people in the background!"  

He appeared equally surprised (though significantly less interested).  Kirk, too, had previously had no idea.  

There are people in the background of the Ubongo cards.

My mind is blown.