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on the computational complexity of Candyland

So there's this "game" out in circulation called LCR.

Taken from the manufacturer's website

To start the game, you need three LCR cubes, at least three players, and three chips for each player. Coins can be used in place of chips for additonal players. After determining which player starts the game, the first player rolls three cubes. The number of L's, C's or Dots rolled dictate where the player's chips go.
  • The number of L's indicates the amount of chips to be passed to the player on the left.
  • The number of R's indicates the amount of chips to be passed to the player on the right.
  • The number of C's indicates the amount of chips to be passed to the center or "pot".
  • The DOTS are neutral and players neither pass nor place chips in the pot for any DOTS rolled.
When a player has only 1 or 2 chips, he rolls only 1 or 2 cubes. If a player has no chips, he is still in the game, but passes the cubes to the next player. The last player with chips is the winner, does not roll the cubes and wins the center "pot".

This game appears to be rapidly growing in popularity. A fun story-style review of it is available here. The take-away, should you decide to read more about LCR, is that it's not a game. It requires no human decision-making, strategic thought, creativity, memory skills, social skills, or even a pulse. You could build a machine that plays it. Your brain can be turned off and you could still participate in this game. I'm not saying that this game is boring. No, this goes beyond boring and straight into I-refuse-to-debase-myself.

Its outcome is ENTIRELY dependent on randomness. Nothing you can do can change that (unless you're telekinetic). Given this sort of mechanic, why would you bother "playing" it in the first place?

As I was off on a rant about this in the car last night, jcobleigh pointed out that Chutes and Ladders and Candy Land can be reduced to the same essential mechanic. I remember being singularly unimpressed with Chutes and Ladders when I played it as a 10-year-old, but I have fond 4-year-old memories of playing Candy Land with my parents.

As I sat in a kind of shock, absorbing the full import of this American-originated games culture that requires no actual critical thought, jcobleigh pointed out that for a 3- or 4-year-old, Candy Land is probably the right level of mental challenge. That comforted me a little, but then I started wondering if there are any other well-known games out there that fall into this category of non-game...


My daughter loves Candyland and Chutes and Ladders, but they completely aggravate me for that reason. Actually, I'm not a big gamer in general, but that type of game... ugh.

So I totally get it. Luckily, she's getting older and her game horizons are expanding.
Let me know if you ever want any recommendations for interesting board games. jcobleigh and I like playing and collecting them.
I'd love to know anything that a 4-7 year old would understand, but that adults wouldn't be frustrated by.

She can handle a few card games with guidance, such as Go Fish and UNO. We've tried to teach her Othello, but it's still a little beyond her strategizing capabilities.
Blokus is rated for ages 5 and up. reveilles and I like it a lot. I'll do some more digging later.
I've heard of that! I may check it out. Thanks!
While I have not played them, I have also heard good things about Rat-a-Tat Cat and Hey! That's My Fish!.
Those look great, too! I will be adding them to the Christmas wish list. :)
A card-game we used to play as kids was "War". It was determined entirely by chance, it didn't even have as much skill required as Snap.
The rules:
- deal out all the cards evenly between the players (usually only two players, I'm not sure how some of the rules work if there are more than two players)
- everyone put down a card from the top of their pack
- the highest card (Aces high, Duces high) wins the round, and the winner takes the cards and puts them at the bottom of his pack
- if two cards are the same, you have a "war". Each warring person deals out three cards face down, and then one card face up; the outcome of the war is determined by the value of that card. The face-down cards become part of the winner's spoils.
- whoever ends up with the most cards wins

Inventive that we were, we made up some additional rules for "Super-Fickle War" which were intended to make the game even more unpredictable. I can't remember what the rules were, though.
Oh, I played that when I was a kid, with the same neighbors who liked Chutes and Ladders. Bored to tears and took forever to win. We usually quick after 30 minutes.

What's Snap? (I'm intrigued, because I learned a game in Haiti but I've forgotten how to play it and I remember immensely enjoying it and it was a one-word name starting with an 's'. :)
Snap starts similarly to War -- one deals out all the cards to the players. Then everyone puts down cards from their deck like in War, but that's where the difference comes in. In Snap, you keep on putting cards down until two cards (from different people) come up the same. As soon as that happens, then the first person to put their hand over the cards and say "Snap!" wins the piles of cards. So that involves skill in that you have to keep an eye on the cards and be as quick as you can when the matched cards come up. Hand-eye coordination, yes. And possibly a good arbiter is required when disputes about who was first come up. Which is why the "put the hand over the cards" thing is important, since whoever's hand is on the bottom obviously got there first.
Yes! That's the game! THANK YOU! :)
You're very welcome. 8-)
Don't people play gambling games based entirely on the roll of dice? Isn't that a non-game too? And yet people wager huge amounts...
It depends on the game. For something like blackjack, you could be card-counting in your head and calculating probabilities, and that takes a lot of skill. Or for poker, it's all about calculating probabilities and human psychology. Ditto on the skill.

But yes, many gambling games are entirely uninteresting for this very reason. I know, let's play put-in-a-coin-and-crank-the-handle 50 times!