For the last two years on the first of the month, Travel Wonders has featured a drink of the month, iconic to a certain country or region. This year in a similar manner, I am going to feature games around the world identifiable with a certain place or country.
I am starting the series with a favourite game that I have owned for over twenty years that has travelled with me on most of my journeys and visited all seven continents. It is called Pass the Pigs and simply requires two rubber pigs.
It has provided many hours of simple entertainment in meeting new people in new countries, killing time on long journeys or a bit of fun over a drink. It breaks through language barriers. I’ve played Pass the Pigs in a hostel on Lofoten Islands, riding the Congo River Boat, in a tent on the Inca Trail, curled up in a sleeping bag in Gokyo near Mt Everest and in a castle in Scotland. Two small rubber pigs take almost no space in the luggage and apart from a quizzical look in a couple of African border posts, they’ve never had any travel issues.
The object of the game is to score 100 points scored by throwing the pigs and landing them in different positions – the more difficult the position, the higher the score. Landing them on opposite sides (one side is marked with a black spot) scores a single point while landing a pig on its feet (called a trotter) is worth five points (20 if they both land that way). Flat on the porker’s back (called a razorback) scores similarly scores five and 20 for twin razorbacks.
More piggy gymnastics scores greater points – a snouter (landing a pig on his nose and front legs) scores 10 points – 40 for twin snouters – while a circus-like leaning jowler where the pig is balanced on an ear, his nose and one leg scores 15 and 60 respectively. MInd you, years of play may never see the valued double leaning jowler.
A player continues to throw accumulating points for various porcine positions. At any point the player can end their turn and bank their points towards the goal of 100, as throwing the two pigs so that they land on their same sides (either both black spots up or black spots down) results in a pig out and the loss of all points scored in that turn.
As the score for each turn accumulates or one player nears 100 points, the players are torn between risking one more throw and banking their scores creating much hilarity and laughter. The game becomes surprisingly entertaining with several people and has broken the ice in many railway carriages and boats.
Even worse if the porker gods are against you is if both pigs end up touching resulting in Makin’ Bacon and the resetting of your total score to zero for the game. The most serious Pass the Pigs roll is a Piggyback where the two pigs land mounted one upon the other, considered a most undignified and unnatural position for friendly porkers and resultant banishment from that game.
The game is available at many game shops in a small hard black plastic case (with scorecards and a pencil) and in this modern age is even available as a $0.99 Pass the Pig iPhone/iPad app and as online Pass the Pigs.
Please share you favourite travelling game in the comments. Do you have a favourite travelling game story?