Whilst browsing in some shops I spotted a large box of game shaped material partially obscured by a woman's coat. Thinking that the game beloged to her, I reviewed my options: ``Tourist mugs local'' came to mind, but I settled on asking where she had got the game. She disclaimed all knowledge of the game and it turned out that a man was trying to sell the game to the shop. Tom had teamed up with the inventor of the game, Tad Wheeler, and was trying to convince the owner that he would be a mug not to take 10 gross. This didn't work, so I convinced Tom to meet me in my hotel with a copy at 3.30 and I would part with the readies. I'm very glad he did.
Back to the game. The high quality plastic board shows a 44 grid in which each square has the same number of holes drilled. Pegs are placed in the holes to indicate ownership of the square as well as the type of poker hand that was achieved by rolling 13 dice. The dice are superbly produced and about the size of Mah Jong pices. Each die has been rounded at the end so that only four sides display a card and the 13 dice ensure that a complete card pack is available. The dice shaker again shows attention to detail that I like and has a softened internal base so that the dice do not make much noise. Finally, a yellow die is included which shows the total number of rolls (between 1 and 3) that are available to achieve a poker score.
Once a hand has been established it is marked on the board. The next clever aspect to the game is that once a hand has been placed on the board, it can only be beaten by a hand of the same type. So three nines will be beaten by three tens, but four jacks will not be able to replace the three nines. If you get the best hand available on a square it can be replaced by being matched, which shows that some serious thought has gone into this game.
The game is very easy to play and has the element of luck (how many throws you can have) with the element of skill (what hands you put down) that makes the game very playable and enjoyable. I understand that since October 4000 have been sold and that the game has just been given a 10000 reprinting. Games magazine gave Peg Poker the best new family game of the year award and I can fully understand why.
Peg Poker is available from Wheeler Games, PO Box 964, Lafayette, California 94549, USA. The cost for mail order to the UK is $34.95 ($29.95 for the game plus $5 shipping).