AND welcome to the games review. The object of this sometimes recurring column is to get some mileage and some use out of my obsession with old and disused board and card games. How did this obsession come about? What fuels it? And what does it entail? Hopefully all those questions will be answered as this column continues.
Our very first item up for review is the Rosetta Stone of my whole collection. The one that started this madness and is the key to unlocking the reason behind it all. Without this game nothing else makes sense. I would not trawl through Sunday morning swapmeets or investigate the dusty corners of op shops, if it were not for this game.
It is ‘The Welcome Back Kotter’ card game.
Where to begin? The History behind the acquisition of this buried treasure? The how to of this game? Lets go for the former.
I collect records. Those slabs of vinyl often to be found at those swapmeets and op shops that I mentioned before. At one swap meet one Sunday I came across this little box of joy. Now I had never at this stage in my life actually seen the show ‘Welcome Back Kotter’. I knew it only by reputation and a few words of the theme song (actually I had the record by John Sebastian, the guy who wrote it, on which he included the song – you see I collect records!)
On impulse I bought it. The price was a dollar.
Now that I had it, what to do with it? I had no intention of actually ever playing it. No, this was joke material. I showed it to friends who also, like me, had never seen the show and could hum even less of the tune than I could. We all recognised a young John Travolta on the box. We all had a good chuckle.
I then took to carrying the game around with me in my car. For emergencies. In case one Saturday night should come along where there was nothing else to do. It kicked around in my car for about 2 years. Actually I transferred it from my first car to my second after I had a car crash. It was a crucial part of getting back on the road, of getting back to normal , of getting used to a new car, of making said car feel like my car.
Then finally it happened. One night at a D&D session we finished early. I again brought up the joke of ‘Welcome Back Kotter’ and whether or not we should play it. The DM was used to this joke by now, which should give you some idea of just how long I had been carrying the thing around. However, on this night, he responded to my joke with a yes, let’s give it a shot. The game was summoned to the table.
What followed is still talked of in awe, as a small group of seasoned gamers suddenly lost 2 and a half hours of their lives absorbed in a sitcom spin off cash in. This was totally unexpected. The Welcome Back Kotter Card Game was good. Nay, more than good. It was far better than expected, far better than it had any right to be. It was 3 in the morning and we only just managed to tear ourselves away from it. We could not stop.
The object of the game, as it says on the box, is to collect scoring cards with Kotter to win. Each of the four students have number cards, representing what each card is worth. These point cards must be collected by using a Kotter Gotcha card. Points at the end of each round are kept on a score board. This whole explanation is totally meaningless unless you already know what I am talking about.
But the point remains. This is an exciting game, that involves strategy, subterfuge, guess work and a whole lot of luck. It is, as we discovered that night and plenty of times since, to be totally addictive.
Our inaugural game review gets 5 Dice.