While wondering whether to write reviews on the time management games I so adore, a better idea came to mind. I proudly wave my dorkdom colors by giving you Parcheesi: The Parcheesening!

“How about a rousing game of Parcheesi?” Al Borland of the sit-com Home Improvement declared. He was answered by triple groans from the Taylor boys.

A complicated version of Sorry!, and a less complicated version of its Indian original, Pachisi, this family past time has been labeled as boring far too long for me to bear. Don’t let the extensive pawn trails fool you, young Tool Men Taylors. You’ll need to pay attention if you want to survive, let alone win.

A friend and I have taken to playing this with our book’s characters. Each color of pawn represents one character’s game play. We simply play for them and pretend that the participating characters are in a room, somewhere, using the same moves we do. My co-writer and I end up having more fun than they do, but that’s life (another board game we also play as characters). We love this game because of its strategy, a skill we might have to use once in a while.

The goal of Parcheesi is to move your pawns from individual starting lines to a Home station located in the center of the board. In between Start and Home, you join other pawns who are after the same goal and might try as many tricks as the rules allow to keep you away from their precious finish line. Should someone else’s pawn land on a space where you reside, your pawn is knocked back to its entrance to await starting over. There are several safe spots across the board (twelve, to be exact) that prevent an opponent from knocking you to Start should he land on that space next to you.

These spaces marked in blue come in handy except when such a space happens to be an Enter platform. (There are four of these; one for each color of opponent.) If, say, one blue pawn occupies the enter platform of a red pawn, he would be wrong to think he is safe from being sent back if there is at least one red pawn waiting in the Enter cell. Should the red player roll the magic number five to free a pawn, the blue pawn would be sent back to Start, no questions asked.

Unless you’re a very sore loser, instances like these are a barrel of laughs. If you’re competitive, you may want to try some blockades to annoy your opponents. Blockades are created when two pawns of one color stand next to each other on any single space. No other colors–even your own–may pass. Be warned that blockades tend to backfire, as keeping one for too long builds a back-up of angry opponents who haven’t been able to pass for many turns. They will be wanting to send your pawns home once you have broken your pawns’ blockade. Barrel of laughs.

Parcheesi has gotten bad representation for annoyances such as blockades, not being able to roll enough fives to be able to enter the game, and for not being able to roll the exact number needed to make it Home. It’s all worth it when you enter the protected pathway towards the Promised Land. I ask you: Is it any less annoying than Sorry!?

Strategy is key and, when played right with able-minded people, can move along surprisingly fast. When doubles are rolled, both sides of the die may be used, the player may roll again for another turn, promoting faster pawn-play–and, oh, did I mention you get extra turns for sending someone to Start and for every time a pawn enters Home?

This game should not be played by tired or bored (or, shall I say, BOARD?) individuals. A player must be aware of his own pawn-travel possibilities as well as track his opponents’ changing strategies.

The limit to players is two, not to exceed four. Two players may make things more interesting by controlling two colors each. With more pawns to each person, there’s more to keep track of in terms of who you want to blockade, whether you want to limit one color to reaching Home and another to defense, and why you almost mistakingly moved your opponent’s pawn instead of yours (a tragedy which occurs when playing while tired).

Adults and writers with characters might also enjoy Strip Parcheesi. For every pawn sent back to the starting line, the owner of that pawn must remove one article of clothing. For every pawn that reaches Home, the owner may return one article to his person. You want to play with strategy now, don’t you? Make sure to wear underwear and multiple pairs of socks.

Image source: Wikimedia

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