These Foolish Games
The TEAM. We Play Games.
As a company we have traveled to 5 different countries (Canada, Ireland, The U.K., Portugal, Austria) to perform or develop work, as well as spending many weeks in various cities all over America. While we’re away from home and not rehearsing, teching, performing, seeing other shows in the festival, in production meetings, or getting lost on foreign streets, we often wind up blowing off our collective steam around a late night table and a game of some sort, cementing our reputation as the funnest company in the world. Here is a quick guide to games the TEAM plays, in case you ever stumble upon us in the back of a pub or the club car of a train and want to join in the fun.
The Settlers of Catan
This game is the s***. No two ways about it. Originally brought to the company by Kristen Sieh, this game has been the source of tears of laughter and tears of rage since the TEAM began. We all have personalities that surface precisely between the time the island (board) is set up and the time the final road piece is put away, and they tend toward the creatively cut throat.
Settlers combines the capitalist fervor of trade and accumulation of Monopoly with the pathological need to control territory of Risk, creating an environment where a player fosters relationships with other players in order to effectively choke them out of the game in turns to come, all while spreading their personal civilizations across the island of Catan. And because it is a German board game there are lots of rules, though in between the rules there is enormous room for creative game play and deception.
One game can easily take three hours or more, so we try to begin our games before 11pm, although sometimes you just gotta play even if it’s late.
I recently described Euchre to an observer as a game mainly popular amongst midwesterners and the elderly. I was corrected by Frank, who specified it is really the midwestern elderly. No less fun.
Euchre is a card game that played with only the 9 through ace of each suit. When trump is announced, the jack of the trump suit becomes the highest card, followed by the off-suit jack, then the ace, king, and so on. The other suits maintain their usual card hierarchy with aces on top. Also, the off-suit jack sheds it’s original suit and temporarily becomes the suit of trump. Trump is reselected every hand. Perfectly straightforward.
It is a fast paced game that consists mainly of trash-talking and deal-stealing. No set up time, no break down time. Great for killing a few minutes with three friends.
A classic card game many of us had played, but brought to the TEAM in a formal capacity by Ian Lassiter during our Las Vegas residency in 2010. There are enough minor variations in game play and ways to mess up that everyone is always on their toes, ready to call out the mistakes of others.
Wii Bowling and Tennis
Another product of our Vegas time. Many of us made it to PRO status in one or both of these games. Unlike most of our other games, this would function as an early morning, pre-rehearsal warm up as often as an end-of-day wind-down. Once we discovered that you could achieve a sparkling, glittery bowling ball, everyone wanted one. And the only way to gain points in tennis was to play cooperatively as doubles partners (instead of head-to-head), so the average number of high fives conducted at the TEAM house rose dramatically over this period.
Actual Bowling and Tennis
The rapid rise to professional status as virtual bowlers led us to some abortive attempts at actual bowling. Our scores were low, but the joy ran high. As for Tennis, Libby and I seem to be the only ones who play in real life, and we are great at it. Coincidentally both of us have made it to finals of Wimbledon but neither of us have won. Something to strive for, I guess.
Most of us were tutored, personally, on how to play Blackjack by Max Rubin, world class blackjack player, card-counter, and bon vivant. With all the knowledge that he gave us, and the practicing we’ve done since then, we are all equipped to go to any casino in America, sit at any blackjack table, and lose all of our money about 40% slower than we would have otherwise. Although I am certainly always game for some additional study.
Suggestions for games we should try out while we’re abroad? Shout ’em out!