LOOPING - Reviewed by Mike
PUBLISHED BY PIATNIK IN 1991
2-6 players, playing time 60-90 minutes
The word "closer" seems to have crept into the gamers vocabulary recently and here's another entry to that ever-growing band of simple, easy-on-the-brain games which are ideal for winding down a session.
LOOPING comes in a small box which contains : -
110 Flight cards
100 chips in 3 colours
rules for 3 different variations of the game.
Whilst the box may be small the game requires a large table onto which to place the cards so clear those beer glasses, coffee mugs, wine glasses etc out of the way before commencing play.
The cards depict vapour trails of an aerobatic manoeuvre, each of which carries a points scoring value according to its complexity and the object of the game is to score the most points by successfully performing the best display. Chips are awarded accordingly and the player with the most chips at the end of the game is the winner.
The following review is based upon our own particular favourite version, sub-titled "Those Magnificent Men...". We play in series of rounds, equal to twice the number of players.
To make sense of the review I had better describe the cards which depict an aircraft's movement from left to right, say its 'entry' and 'exit' point. These points are at any one of three levels but there are also cards which enter and exit by the top or bottom of the cards to simulate climbing and diving. There are also several "Cloud" cards which can be played as a sort of joker and these permit the player to choose the entry and exit points.
Each card except Cloud cards carry a point-scoring value and most of these (but not all) also contain a dice symbol with a number on it. This represents the degree of difficulty in executing the manoeuvre and the player must equal or exceed this dice value to continue their move.
There are also several Landing Cards, which are used to complete the flight and the playing of this card terminates a particular round and scoring takes place (see later).
PLAYThe Take-Off card is placed in the left hand corner of the table, the remaining cards are shuffled and each player receives 10 cards, with the rest forming a stock pile from which hands will be replenished.
The player on the dealers left commences play and he may lay as many cards as he wishes, providing each card makes a continuous vapour trail across the sky. When he has laid sufficient the player must then roll the dice for EACH card in the sequence that contains a dice symbol and the number(s) must be equalled or exceeded for EACH one. Should any of the die rolls be unsuccessful the whole sequence fails to score !!
For a fully successful manoeuvre the player sums up the points value of all the cards in the sequence and receives chips to that value.
In either case the player then replenishes his hand to bring it back to 10 cards, providing there are sufficient cards left.
If a player is unable to play at least 1 card on his turn he must take an additional card from the stock into his hand.
Example : the plane is at 'Level 1' and player A lays 4 cards thus : -
Level 1 to Level 2, 1 point, no dice symbol
Level 2 to Level 2, 1 Point, no dice symbol
Level 2 to Top of Card, 4 points, dice symbol 2
Bottom of Card to Level 3, 2 points, dice symbol 2
Player A must roll the dice twice and score at least 2 on each roll ( a reasonable gamble I would say). If successful he scores 8 points, if not zilch !!
Player B now has his turn and his first card must be one that enters at Level 3.
You will see from the above example that there is a small amount of decision making to be made . Do you play a series of small, unspectacular, safe manoeuvres to gain a few chips each turn or do you go for the flamboyant, extravagant high-scoring display and risk losing all on the die rolls ??
The cards which have an exit point on the top of the card increase the planes altitude by 1 Card Level and this is important for 2 reasons :-
1) the plane can only be landed safely if it returns to its original starting altitude
2) if the round ends and the plane is not landed then all players are penalised 1 point times the 'finishing Card Level'
Of course by playing cards which have an exit point at the bottom of the card has the effect of decreasing the planes altitude so players must weigh up their options in considerations of the cards in their hand. The player(s) with Landing Cards will wish to get the plane down whilst those without will wish to keep it up !
A Landing Card can only be played as a SINGLE card in a round and it must be from the correct entry point level. The player who lands the plane receives a bonus of 1 chip for every player in the game.
Cloud Cards can be used as a joker and the player nominates the level at which the plane exits. These can be useful to overcome a shortage of cards at a particular level but they do not score points in the manoeuvre and count as 5 points against you if still in your hand at the end of the round ( see Scoring).
Players continue to play cards, replenishing their hands as necessary until the end of the round and then scoring takes place.
END OF ROUND
The round ends when either of the following occur :
1) The plane is landed back to its starting altitude.
2) No player can add a card. (NB. players continue to play cards reducing their hand below 10 if possible)
Players then pay to the bank chips to the value of : -
1 chip for each card left in their hand
5 chips for each Cloud Card in their possession
1 chip times the plane's Card Level Altitude if the round ended without a successful Landing
Any remaining chips count as the players score that round and these are noted on a piece of paper.
The player with the most points at the end of the agreed number of rounds is the winner.
My timings at the top of this review reflect the fact that a round would normally take about 15 minutes to complete and is based upon a 4-player game allowing a little extra time for scoring and shuffling the cards. At just over the hour LOOPING provides a pleasant end to an evening, combining as it does card play and die-rolling in a light-hearted manner. Not a game for repeated play as I think the novelty value would wear thin but certainly one worthy of consideration.