Missing Pieces: ‘Razzle’ and ‘Trippples’, an Odd Couple

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Razzle and Trippples

Every week in Missing Pieces, we explore the thrift store shelves, searching out games from yesteryear that trigger our nostalgia, pique our curiosity, or just make us say, “What were they thinking?!”

This week, we’re doubling up with a couple of two-player games that, aside from their player counts, have absolutely nothing in common.

Razzle

1981 was the year researchers found the Titanic, Indy found the Ark of the Covenant, and Parker Brothers found a use for all of those extra Boggle pieces they had lying around.

A game of Razzle begins by shuffling the cubes. This is done via a clever sliding mechanism and a series of bumps. Once the cubes are bounced around a bit, stop the slider in the middle and begin searching. When you find a word of at least four letters in length, shout it out. If the other player confirms the word is on the board, slide the cubes one notch forward. Otherwise, your opponent gets to slide them forward. As soon as the cubes stop, both players begin searching again. When the slider reaches your opponent’s side, mark yourself a point, shuffle back to the middle, and start over. Continue until you reach the agreed upon points.

At any time, you can call, “Challenge,” and flip the timer over. Your opponent then has ten seconds to find a word. If they succeed, they push the slider forward. If they cannot, you push the slider. Any player can challenge at any time.

If Boggle is the New York Times crossword puzzle, Razzle would be the word find on the back of a Denny’s place mat. They both involve finding words, but Razzle focuses on speed over complexity. If you are the kind of person who finds 30 words in a game of Boggle, then has them all marked out because someone else also found them, Razzle is for you. For an extra challenge, you can search for five letter words, only nouns, only verbs, only British Jazz Fusion bands, whatever jumbles your cubes.

Trippples

If Razzle is ADHD Boggle on meth, Trippples is 3D Chess on Slo-Mo.

This 1972 game from Benassi Enterprises consist of 64 wooden squares: 4 blank tiles, 4 start/end tiles, 56 directional tiles, and two player tokens. The object of the game is to get your marker from your start tile to your end tile. The catch is that you can only move your marker in a direction indicated by the tile underneath your opponent’s marker. For example, in the game above (that is rotated 90 degrees counter-clockwise), the clear circle marker can only move up, left, or up and to the left, as shown on the tile beneath the square marker.

This results in players attempting to analyze one, two, three, or more steps ahead as they try to map their route across the board. Look, I’m not against strategy games. I can appreciate a good game of Chess from time to time, and Mastermind is still a favorite. The problem with Trippples is that the game I describe above is the “Beginner Rules” version. What I left out is the first part where players take turns strategically placing all 56 directional tiles before the game even begins, which means a game can take as much as a half an hour to set up before you even start moving your pieces. This “strategic setup” is as unnecessary as the game’s extra letter and makes an already sluggish game even more so. Trippples was amusing enough to kill an hour or so, but I don’t see it making an appearance in the two-person game rotation.

If you’re not familiar with it, Tsuro uses a similar game mechanic, only every tile placement results in a movement of your token. This back and forth with immediate results makes for a much more fun game than Trippples. There’s even an app version.

Or you could just pick up Trippples for a buck or two at your local thrift store and spend the difference on Red Bull and triple shot lattes to help move things along.

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