The Card Game That Made Me Howl

A night of fun, cards, and letting out your inner Wolf.

“Bob get over here, we're playing cards,” my friend called over.

I walked over by the log cabin where my friend, his wife (a good friend as well) and coworker were setting up a roundtable. After helping them pull out the table and set some plastic chairs around it I asked “so what are we going to play?”

The woman shuffling told me the game is Spoons. She took three spoons out of a plastic container and put them evenly across the table.

The game was simple enough. You could only have four cards in your hand at a time. You discard a card passing it to your left. The person receiving the card would look at it, if they decided they wanted it they had to pass one of their own cards to the next person. The object of the game is to have four of a kind.

Now the fun part, the first person to get four of a kind takes a spoon. Every one left has to race and try to get a spoon. The one left without a spoon gets a letter. Much like horse in basketball, the person to spell out S-P-O-O-N first loses the game.

Before I continue I should clarify something or the following might not make as much sense. I have a physical disability referred to as TAR Syndrome. Basically my arms are shorter than most people because I am missing the long bone referred to as your funny bone. Luckily, I still retained a sense of humor.
Usually I have a card holder though I didn’t bring it this time. Sometimes you have to improvise.

Bent over the table shifting through cards trying to get four of a kind as quickly as I could. The cards came at me as if they were Bullet Bill being shot out of a cannon on Bowser’s ship from Super Mario Brothers 3.

Luckily, I formed a strategy for this particular game. I look at the four cards I had before we start playing for each round, memorizing what I had. If I had a pair it was no brainer. I would just be looking for whatever the matching cards were. I put the pair in the bottom of the pile of four cards that made up my hand. That way I would just dismiss whatever the top card was in exchange for the card that matched my pair.

If I had four cards with no pairs then the process was a lot slower. It’s a lot harder trying to keep track of four possible cards you’re looking for instead of just one. Remember, I’m not looking at these cards. I’m doing it in my head. Plus new cards are coming in every few seconds. It was worse than trying to blast away giant boulders in Asteroids at one point.

A New Challenger Approaches

A dark-haired man wandered over that I just met at the party. Earlier that day, when my friends where talking about firing their rifles at the range he remarked the only kind of shooting he did involve pointing a light gun at a mocking dog popping up from a field. Ah, Duck Hunt, classic. Of course I liked him. He was laughing holding two cans of ginger ale.

“What is so funny?” we all asked.

He put the ginger ale on the table.

A ginger Ale combine with a claymore illustration.

“Read the expiration date,” he says.

The canned soda was from five years ago.

On top of it being my friend's daughter’s first birthday it was also very close to his and his wife’s anniversary. They married when that can wasn’t as volatile as a claymore in Call of Duty. We thought it odd, most people save the bride and groom from the top of the cake not the soda from their wedding.

To our astonishment, the dark-haired man proclaims that he was going to try this drink. We all joked that it was a rare vintage. He declared it tasted like sugar-water. After spitting out the sip he sampled we got back to the game.

We played a round or two. I was getting more familiar with the overall concept of the game.

After a while, another decided to join our table. She was tall. Her light brown hair fell over her shoulder and she has high cheek bones. She originally was from Switzerland and was accustomed to speaking French. You could hear a faint French accent in her voice.

Spoons and Strategy

We started using fake out techniques. We started reaching for a spoon when we really didn’t have anything, known as a bluff in the game.

When you start understanding the basic ideas behind Spoons you find yourself watching the other players more than your cards. Looking up Spoons in Google revealed that this is a valid strategy. Eyes off the Cards, is a technique where players will just pass the cards and watch for anyone to grab a spoon.

I can’t help but draw a parallel between this and video games. I was new to this particular game and was just given the basic rules though I started to test the boundaries of those rules and see where I could gain an edge. This is similar to computer games such as Hearthstone or League of Legends where you try to find combinations between items, cards, and characters to gain an advantage in play.

It’s not cheating you just found something that your competition hasn’t yet. It is punishing being on the receiving end. Though, don’t worry if the thing that keeps creaming you time after time as your opponent spams it like a cat playing with a mouse. It will be nerfed by the higher-ups on the next patch cycle.

We both reached for the same spoon at the same time. I growled at her.

Case in point, one match it was so close between me and the woman from Switzerland. We both reached for the same spoon at the same time. I growled at her. She yelped like a deer caught in headlights and I grab the spoon.

It was a great move.

Would you ever expect a low wolf sounding growl from a round-faced short man who looks like he belongs smoking a pipe alongside Bilbo Baggins in the Shire?

I’m just taking advantage of the Meta. It was all in fun and she was laughing right after words.

It was getting very late. There was some picking up to do after the party and the guests were looking to get back home. I shook the hands of the new people who I just met that day. Before that game we were just acquaintances. Afterwards, we were all on the road of becoming friends. This silly little activity helped to build a bridge between people whom didn’t know each other. Games sure have a way of bring people together.

Contributor

Bob is an Artist, Illustrator and Cartoonist with a Geek bent. He enjoys playing video games and writing and drawing about them.

Published Jul. 30th 2014

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