Equipment Needed for Sid Sackson's Book A GAMUT OF GAMES

28 of the 38 games in A Gamut of Games (almost 75%) can be played without any special equipment. They need only the following ordinary game equipment, which can of course be used to play many other games besides the ones in the book:

  1. Two copies of a StandardDeckOfCards, preferably with matched backs.
  2. Two Checkers sets. (Two sets of pieces are needed, and one board can be slightly modified with paint or nail polish for the games Focus and Property?, while the other board can be used for the game Blue_&_Gray?, below.)
  3. Two matched sets of standard double-six dominos.
  4. Poker chips: 50 white, 25 red, and 25 blue.
  5. Five six-sided dice.
  6. 10 plastic or paper cups (eight small and two large).
  7. 80 beads or beans (40 in two colours).
  8. A pad of white paper.
  9. A pad of graph paper.
  10. Six ordinary black pencils.
  11. One red pencil.

A pencil sharpener would be nice, too.

The remaining games need some special equipment:

  1. Blue & Gray: A special board that can be made by modifying one of the spare checkerboards with tape or paint.
  2. Card Baseball: A special board representing a baseball diamond. Can be sketched by the patients if necessary.
  3. Change Change: 11 coins ("four of one denomination, four of a second denomination, two of a third denomination, and one of a fourth denomination"). From my experience of hospitals, these are likely to disappear into pay phones and vending machines. I suggest instead either fake coins from a teacher's supply store (used to teach kids how to handle money), or small chips in four colours, which can also be bought in a teacher's supply store or scavenged in thrift stores.
  4. Focus: Four-player Focus (as opposed to the regular two-player game) requires 26 extra checkers (13 checkers in two extra colours). We can make these by spray-painting ordinary checkers.
  5. Haggle: Multiple blank cards in five colours (each can be half of a 3"x5" card).
  6. The No Game: Numerous pieces of red ribbon and straight pins, to be affixed to clothing. For children's and psychiatric wards, we might substitute Post-It Notes.
  7. Origins of World War I: A special board, which can be made by photocopying the one in the book, or mocked up in a desktop-publishing program. Also, five cards with the names of countries on them (easy to make).
  8. Plank: 12 special pieces segmented in red, white, and blue (4 each of 3 permutations). These can easily be made out of cardboard. Also, 24 tokens (4 sets, labelled A, B, C, and D), of 3 colours (red, white, and blue: 2 of each). These can be made by labelling some of the poker chips with a permanent marker.
  9. Take It Away: It is not mentioned in the book, but this game might require a bag from which to draw chips randomly. An ordinary paper or plastic bag would do.
  10. Three Musketeers: A 5x5 game board. Of course, this can be easily sketched on a piece of paper, or marked off on the checkerboard.

From this it can be seen that most of the games in the book that require special equipment do not present much of a problem, and some of the boards, etc. can even be made from equipment in the "standard list", such as paper and pencil.

The standard list is flexible too. You can make some of its equipment yourself; for example, if poker chips are too expensive, you can substitute squares of cardboard instead. Similarly, if dominos are too expensive, you can omit them entirely, because only one game requires them (but it's a good one: the Domino_Bead_Game?, released commercially as Wu_Hsing?).

The real problem, in fact, is not coming up with equipment, but coming up with the book! A Gamut of Games was first published in 1969, was republished in a significantly revised second edition in 1982, and then reprinted in a nearly identical third edition in 1992 by Dover Publications. It was in print continuously by Dover from 1992 until just a couple of months ago (January 2003). Doh! I called approximately 20 bookstores in the Seattle area without finding a single copy. The online booksellers are sold out too.

See also GamesToTheRescue, the charitable effort by Seattle Cosmic Game Night and the Center for Ludic Synergy.


BoardgameGeek page for A Gamut of Games