BENGALURU: When you think of ‘board games’, what do you think about? Whether it’s Monopoly or Mage Knight you think of, chances are you think of people sitting at a table and having fun. Today, we’re taking a look at a game that’s best played standing up and one that’s over a century old — Pit.
Pit is a commodity trading game where players are racing to complete a set of any one commodity by trading cards in real time. Commodities vary by version, but usually include corn, gold, sugar and the like. There are nine cards for each commodity, and you include as many commodities as there are players. Shuffle those cards up, deal nine per person, and you’re ready to go.
Here’s the goal — in order to win, you must have all nine cards of a single commodity in your hand and it’s unlikely that you’ll start off with more than three or four of any one type at the beginning. So you want to get rid of the rest of your cards and hopefully pick up more of the type you’ve already got a head-start on, but you don’t know who has them. In order to trade with other players, you’ll have to call out a number until you find someone else who’s calling that number and you exchange cards face-down. That’s hugely important, because you don’t ever say what you’re trading, just that you’re trading X cards of something. And everybody is trying to do the exact same thing.
When somebody gives the signal to begin, Pit descends into utter chaos. Everybody’s yelling, cards are being half-flung at other players, loud groans are heard as players wind up with the exact same cards they just traded away, and who the hell has that gold I’m looking for? It’s a wonderfully madcap experience, but it’s not just sheer bedlam for bedlam’s sake - you can, if you’re paying attention, figure out which commodity people appear to be dumping as fast as they get it. Maybe you should ditch your original plans, and start hoovering that one up instead? Players who are best able to roll with the punches and adapt to what they find will prosper here, and there’s the potential for clever play amidst the cacophony.
The original Pit was designed in 1903, and I saw it bring a table of eight to crying laughter yesterday. There’s something special about a game that has that kind of longevity, and there’s honestly no reason why Pit shouldn’t be in your collection. No other game brings the house down quite like it.