Monday, October 14, 2013
Road Trip: Dice Solitaire
How does one keep oneself entertained for all the miles in a trip like this? Readers may have seen in earlier road trip posts that we listened to the full Harry Potter book series on our car stereo together. We loaded the digital data of all seven audiobooks onto one 8GB mp3 player and used an FM transmitter to play it on the radio on our 2000 model year sedan's factory installed radio.
This wasn't all fun and easy, of course. The meta data of the audio books (as are many audio books) was inconsistent and often incorrect. The player we used was a windows-based player that doesn't use iTunes, so the files were sorted as if they were music albums and songs. The strange meta data led to difficulties in finding individual tracks and folders. For example, each disc of each book was labeled the following: "(Book x) Harry Potter and the xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Disc xx." On the player we were using, each title was scrolled through slowly from left to right, not displayed on a single line. So, to know which disc was selected, the screen had to scroll all the way through the title until the disc number displayed at the end. We had to be careful, because the screen would blink off if no buttons were pushed in a few seconds, which was just about how long it took to scroll to the disc numbers. Sometimes the screen would go black, and the passenger would be forced to watch the scroll again. Maddening.
Harry Potter fun aside, I brought along some alternate car entertainment to keep busy through the long hours on less-than-exciting landscapes. Dice Solitaire is a game written by Sid Sackman played by one person with five dice. Like any solitaire game, the player plays against the game in an attempt to win. Unlike many card solitaire games, all games can be finished, but the final score can be negative- a loss.
Full rules can be found here.
Briefly, the player rolls five dice each round. From those five, the player must select two pairs of dice to count on the scoring column and one die to throw away. Points are scored (and lost) by banking scoring numbers. For each scoring number (2-12) keeping one through four of those numbers counts as -200 on the final score. Keeping five of those numbers counts zero points in the final score. Keeping six to ten of those numbers adds to the final score, and each scoring number has a different value, less for more common numbers (like 6, 7, 8) and more for rarer numbers (2,3,11,12). Craps players will be familiar with the probability table of rolling two dice. One may choose three numbers to be throwaway dice and must count one of those three throwaways each round. Game is over when any one of those throwaway numbers reaches eight. Check the link for the better description of the rules.
In the above game (played in the car on the back page of a journal entry) my final score was negative 50, mostly because of those -200 scores in the 4, 5, and 12 rows. The number 5 was the throwaway number to reach 8 counts first, even though there was some wiggle room in 1 and 2. The last roll here must have had a 5 and no 1 or 2 dice, so the game had to end.
This game had a much better outcome. Some of this can be attributed to luck, some to careful decision making at different points in the flow of the game. The only negative score came from the 3 row, with all other numbers giving positive or zero scores.
Yikes, this game was a mess. Notice that the 1 throwaway got to 8 counts while the 3 only had 2 counts. This was probably a series of bad dice rolls and very bad decision making. Negative 880 might be a record low for me in this game.
This game helped keep my mind busy, especially during some of the angst-ridden whining in Harry Potter 5, but that's another post. Comment if you try this game, highly recommended. Once more, please check the game site for a better description of the game rules.