This gaming hobby has exploded in the past decade, with hundreds of new games being released yearly in all types of categories. Gamers are obsessed with the newest and shiniest additions to the hobby. But every once in a while when we tear our eyes away from the shiny glare of the “new”, we notice a gem of a game that is over a 100 years old.
Pit is what we today would probably consider a party game: its loud and raucous, it can handle a lot of players at a time, the rules are simple and its very frenetic. If I described it as a game about trading commodities, I wouldn’t be incorrect, but that wouldn’t really capture the spirit of the game. Pit is more a game about trading cards as fast as you can, and yelling. So much yelling.
Let’s take a look at this loudest of games.
Pit is a pretty easy game to grasp. Everyone has a hand of cards, and the goal is to have your entire hand all one type of commodity. Your reward is that you get to ring the bell. Oh, and you get points too.
So how do you get your hand to be all one commodity? You trade. It’s a blind trading system where you can trade 1,2,3, or 4 cards at a time with anyone at the table. The brilliance is that there is no turn-based system or structure of any kind really. You just call out your number, someone agrees, you trade, and keep doing that as fast and as loudly as possible.
And that’s it. After lots of shouting, grabbing, and reaching, someone completes a set, rings a bell, scores points, and then you do it all again.
The only complicated aspect of the rules is when you want to play with the bull and bear cards. Keep in mind these are optional, and the only fiddly thing with them is the exact sets of nine are a little messed up, and people have different sized hands. The bull can act as a wild card, but can also cost you points if you don’t win that hand. And the bear card is also a penalty if you are stuck with it. I don’t like the hand sizes being different when these are added, but I do like the hot potato aspect of the bear.
I mean, its mostly cards. And they get worn out pretty quickly with all the passing around, and scrunching up, and everything. In fact, I am at the point where I’m actually going to have to replace my copy. And the illustrations are just basic wheat, corn, coffee, etc. But that’s all they need to be. But of course there’s also the bell.
Pit is an old parlour game, and it feels like an old parlour game, but in the best possible way. Its not bogged down by modern day rules, or ideas of what a game needs to be. Its structured entirely around an enjoyable experience, while still existing within the limits of an actual game.
Pit rocks. You will have a good time, and anyone within earshot will be able to tell you are having a good time. So ring that bell and pick up Pit for a great party game experience.