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Tuesday, December 10, 2002

The last true vacation I took was about 6 or 7 years ago, an action packed romp in “Hogtown” which saw many strange occurrences and events. The first weekend that I was in the city I went to a rather large Magic the Gathering Tournament, I believe that it was a qualifying event for a Pro Tour tournament in Chicago and part of the launch of the “Mirage” expansion (Say “aye” if you loooooooove phasing!).

The tournament itself was Ice Age and Alliances only, so I really didn’t have the proper cards to make a killer deck. Opting instead for a ridiculous Ivory Gargoyles / Skull Catapult deck did provide quite entertaining, as did playing many side tournaments. I actually won the largest and final sealed deck side tournament of the day, beating a very nice Chinese man (who happened to have no fingers, don't ask how he held the cards!) to net a sweet pile of newly released Mirage cards that more than covered my expenses for that day.

And what a day it was! The MtG Tourney was only the start of my adventures as, in probably the greatest single serendipitous event in my life, I left the tournament and walked out on to the street corner just as two friends of mine pulled up to the stop light in their car. Not only was this an amazing coincidence, as I had attempted unsuccessful to get in touch with them all day, but it also led to some very wild adventures! Such as: hanging around a very posh strip club, my first experience with the exquisite drink known as a Starbucks’ Mocha Frappuccino, getting lost in a very dark corner of Toronto (at a very late hour of the night) and about a dozen other individual adventures which I dare not post.

MtG has gone on to evolve into a massive and completely bloated cash cow and while I still enjoy a good duel now and again, I’ve come to appreciate somewhat less commercials games. This brings me to the original reason for my "off-the-cuff" reminiscing, which is a little something that’s always stuck in the back of my head from that particular day. Actually, it was something that happened before the tournament itself had actually begun, as everyone was getting themselves ready I spied a couple of guys playing a most unusual game…

It seemed to involve tossing small rubber pigs around and scoring points depending on how the pigs landed. A variation on one of the oldest dice games in history, but with very abstract dice indeed.

For some reason this little event came to the surface of my ever so esoteric memory the other day, so I decided to finally track down this novel little game, if for no other reason than to learn it’s name and perhaps a little history as well.

On a completely wild hunch, I started my search at Cheapass Games. Well, my hunch turned out to be completely unfounded, however, I did discover a rather large assortment of well… very cheap games! (Talk about truth in a name!) Friends have assured me that, while their games may be cheap, they are also a lot of fun to play. While I have no first hand evidence of this, their website is quite amusing to poke around and I have also read some very positive reviews of their “Strange Adventures in Infinite Space” computer game. Actually, their games cover quite a large cross-section of game genres, including some unique sounding card games. It is also worth noting that they have some very cool package deals, such as “Every Cheapass Game still in print” etc…, which is always a bonus in my book!

Hmmmmmm, ok, so who else makes strange games? How about Steve Jackson Games, inventor of the ever-popular GURPS RPG? Actually, I’ve had a bit of a grudge against SJG since they wrote me a letter saying that I wasn’t allowed to have a URL with Illuminati in the title. But, that was long ago and never amounted to a hill of beans, so this seems like as good a time as any to investigate their current game offerings

Alas, it seems that Steve doesn’t know anything about the mystical pig game either, however, they do have some very cool games, including one game that I’ve always wanted to try: Knightmare Chess.

Actually an “expansion” for regular chess, Knightmare Chess adds a lovely Erisian twist to this ancient game by introducing a deck of cards which can be played during the game to create all sorts of lovely chaos.

Hmmmmmm, still no pig tossing however…. Hmmmm, I do recall playing a rather unusual card game at the SCA’s Pennsic War sometime back in 1998. Called “Once Upon a Time” , it’s a rather strange kind of “game” where imagination and storytelling is more important than silly concepts such as “winning”. Perfect when counted among your playing partners are such folks as the infamous “Wonko the Sane”.

While not the “Pig Pushers” I was looking for, Atlas Games is another interesting company that offers a wide array of mainstream and not-so-mainstream game titles. Including the always-popular Furry Pirates! (HAAAAAAAARRRRRR!)

But, alas, no pigs… At this point I finally gave in and asked a friend that is totally into gaming, he finally gave me the clue I was looking for, the name of the mysterious pig tossing game: “Pass the Pigs”! (YAY!)

It seems that “Pass the Pigs” actually has a rather long history, having begun life in 1977 as “Pigmania” from David Moffat Enterprises, which in turn appears to be a pun based on a very old dice game called simply “Pig”.

Despite attempts by certain lawyers to remove such things from the world wide web, it seems that you can still play a slightly simplified Java Version of Pass the Pigs (Darn! No “Makin’ Bacon!") Or if you’d like to order the “real thing” you can get it directly from

Hmmmmmm, now that my flying pig mystery has been solved, I wonder what other trouble I can get into?

See ya next time kiddies!

posted by Kusari 12:12 AM

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