playing by the rules

Anyone who has played UNO is probably familiar with the phrase, “Oh, we play it like this.” For instance, some people say you can match a card with an exact duplicate at any time. That’s just one of the many variations people play by and it’s no big deal if that’s the consensus, but what if people have different rules? My preference is to play by the official rules because everyone should be familiar with those and you don’t have to relearn different rules every time you play with someone new.

Scrabble is another example of a game that has variations of rules. Some people say that you can put down any word you want, and if someone challenges it and it’s not a word, you just keep trying different words until you get a valid one. The rules state that if someone challenges your word and it’s not valid, you lose your turn. However, if the word is valid, the challenger loses a turn.

Yet another example is checkers. There is a long debate about whether or not you have to jump, and the answer is yes, those are the rules, yet many people play without requiring people to jump if they can but that can change the whole strategy of the game.

I’ve found that the problem doesn’t seem to exist with chess, and I’m not sure exactly why. I guess it would be confusing if when you play with Rupert, knights were to move three spaces, then two to the left or right, but chess seems to have avoided the make-your-own rule problem, for which I’m glad.

In the end, games are supposed to be fun, so if you like playing with the variations, more power to you, but if you end up playing with others, don’t be surprised if you have to explain your rules.

If you’re not a fan of playing with all sorts of variations, play by the rules and maybe, just maybe, next time you sit down to a game of UNO you can deal the cards and immediately start playing instead of having to discuss what the rules will be for that game.


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  1. I played a game once called The Totally Insane Card Game, and part of what made it fun was the lack of rules. Basically, it was legal to cheat as long as you didn’t get caught.

    Comment by Cameron on May 25, 2005 @ 7:13 pm
  2. That reminds me of a card game that Levi had where the rules changed when different cards were played. However, in that game, the rule was that the rules could change, which is in keeping with my preference.

    Comment by dan on May 25, 2005 @ 7:24 pm
  3. The game you might be thinking about dan is Fluxx.
    Fluxx starts with a simple draw one play one “basic rule” and everything else you play changes the rules for better or worse.

    Comment by christopher mayfield on June 3, 2005 @ 6:35 am
  4. Aha! That’s exactly what I was thinking of. That’s a fun game.

    Comment by dan on June 3, 2005 @ 7:57 am

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