Our first meeting at the Veterans Park Senior Center in Redondo Beach began with a game of Tumblin-Dice. It was at least as effective, and fun, as I had thought it was going to be – easy to learn, challenging, and yet with enough luck to keep people from taking it too seriously. Especially, given that people had come into the center expecting to learn more about how to play Texas Hold ’em. Even older people, who had difficulty standing, were moving around, waiting for their turn with very apparent glee. The only obstacle was keeping score – doing the arithmetic calculations of adding and multiplying the spots on the dice – which, of course, is part of the challenge for children as well as seniors. Since this was the first game we played, I helped with the scorekeeping. Trying to slide the dice into the scoring areas was more than enough to keep people focused on fun.
But the event really didn’t become major fun, until we started playing A to Z. At first, there were just enough players so we could have one for each of the 4 boards. There are two dice – one, the category die, determines which of 6 questions you are trying to answer, the other, the timer die, determines how much time you have (15 or 30 seconds), and two special events – one that allows you to cover up any empty space, and second which lets you take chips off the board of any other player.
As I taught the game, I suggested that we ignore, for the time being, both of the dice. When it was someone’s turn, that player would pick a card, select any one of the six categories, and start the timer (giving themselves 30 seconds). I think, because we knew we were ignoring some of the rules (cheating, perhaps?), the game became even more fun. Later, when more people came in, we had to share boards, so it became a game between teams. And this made the game even more fun. Individual players didn’t feel so pressured because they were part of a team. We all knew we were kind of cheating (picking whatever item we wanted from the category cards, disregarding both dice), so the game became a shared thing, one that we had all adapted, for our own use, for our own fun.
And major fun it was.