Noah (angelbob) wrote,
Noah
angelbob

The Cooperative Game of Angst and Despair!

This Christmas, I was back in Texas with the younger siblings. That includes young Ruth, who is a legal sibling and biological niece. She's still of an age to properly appreciate games like... Rainbowland.

Those of you (most of you) who've never heard me describe Rainbowland in person may not have imagined the shudder that accompanied that. Let me summarize the game for you.

Rainbowland is a happy land with rainbow gnomes who collect the raindrops and use them to build the rainbow. They have names like Stormy and Puddles. Rainbowland has other denizens like the Good Fairy who does the actual turning raindrops into rainbows with her magic wand.

There's also Ollie the Ogre. He is described as a "friendly nemesis", a phrase which shows a fine ignorance of Greek language and mythology. He charges the gnomes raindrops occasionally to do things like ride little boats from one place to another or cross his bridge. He's too big to collect the raindrops himself, and he likes them a lot, so he bills the gnomes in raindrops.

There's also a mudslide that the gnomes go down. Ollie, being none too bright, stores his raindrop barrel at the end of it, so the gnome go down and kick it over (freeing all the raindrops, which they can collect again and he can't) repeatedly. They don't mention why the friendly little gnomes do this over and over. If the game I played was any indication, it's because they're vicious little sadists that hate everything and everyone. But that part's not actually in the rules.

The idea is that it's a twenty-minute or half-hour game (heh. right) where you build up the rainbow from the drops you collect, and everybody wins at the end. Bear that concept in mind. Delude yourself with it. It's the only way to get through the game. Pay no attention to the actual game mechanics. It hurts you less that way, though for just as long.

It's a game of attempting to do things, and being foiled, then trying desperately to avoid losing all the progress you've made, and failing. You have to go collect raindrops. That'd be fine, but you can't do it when the sun's out, so if somebody hit's the dreaded sun square, nobody can do anything (except try not to hit any other bad squares) until somebody hits the "rain" square. Similarly, the wind blows the wand away from the good fairy until somebody hits the spiderweb to get it back out. During that time, *nobody* may accomplish *anything* useful.

To add insult to injury, the rainbow's sections must be finished in order. Pity the poor Purple Gnome whose actions are without meaning until Red, Orange, Yellow, Green and Blue have finished, at which point they're waiting in foot-tapping irritation until s/he finishes. Well, unless s/he chooses to be spiteful and lands on the "sun" space or the wind to blow the fairy's wand away, or otherwise prevents *anybody* from accomplishing anything. Note that if you're a small child (as the game is designed for) and this is your only way to influence the game (it is), this option starts to look really good instantly. Think about that a minute.

Y'know that "can't do anything, then everybody waits on you" dynamic? Now realize it's not just the Purple Gnome. It's *all* of them, except that Red gets the skip the "can't do anything" phase and move straight to the "everybody hates me for not being done yet" phase. Then they're out of the game, and waiting, annoyed, on the remaining players.

Are we having fun yet?

There are other obstacles. For instance, there are a fixed maximum number of each color of raindrop, so if you ever go over Ollie's Bridge (for the love of God, NO!!!) you can no longer collect the five drops you need to make your section of the rainbow. So somebody has to go kick over his rain barrel so you can wander among the board and collect them back...

But I'm not going to get into any of the rest of it. Let us merely say, this game etched itself onto my synapses, which is why I feel compelled to inflict a description of it on you.

Never, never play it. For your future avoidance, it looks like this and was made by these poor damned souls. I note that it's on sale on the HearthSong site. Small wonder.

Also, a much more diplomatic woman than I has reviewed the game.
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