From Jenga and Ker Plunk through to Operation and Buckaroo, games involving a steady hand have always captured the public's imagination. The glorious suspense they elicit is fist-bitingly addictive, and the spectacle of watching things fall to bits following an error of judgement is always a joy to behold. Especially when it's your opponent's fault! In game-paying circles we believe this phenomenon is known as 'laughing your head off at other people's bad luck and incompetence'.
Best of all, games of balance have very few rules to learn, so anyone can play them. The latest entrant into this entertaining field of gaming is Ntropy. Why the makers have named the game after a scientific word meaning 'a measure of unavailable energy' is anyone's guess. Then again 'Balancing Big Wooden Sticks' doesn't really have quite the same ring to it, does it? But that's exactly what this brilliantly entertaining game is all about.
Basically, Ntropy (which scooped the '12th Night' category in the Hamleys Best Toy 2004 Awards) is a game of creative construction, calculated risk and cool nerve - there's even an element of modern art in there somewhere. Possibly. Players start with an equal number of drumstick-like sticks which they take in turn to place on the developing structure. Rolling a die determines how you must balance your stick, and if any sticks fall off during your go, they are added to your collection. The first person to get rid of all their sticks is the winner - unless of course the whole thing comes tumbling down.
Some of the bizarre structures formed whilst playing Ntropy are worthy of the Turner Prize (then again, so is an empty crisp packet), as the sticks often seem to defy gravity. In fact, Ntropy is one of those ingenious games that can be played with without being played, if you catch our drift. Indeed, we reckon Ntropy is a classic in the making, as its simplicity to skill ratio and one-more-go factor are completely off the scale. Go on, stick it and see!
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