Pauper’s Magic Draft

  1. Shuffle your collection of Magic: The Gathering cards, and place 120 face-up on the table.
  2. Shuffle your collection of lands, and place 60 face-up on the table.
  3. Both players take turns choosing one card each to build a thirty-card deck.
  4. Players play three games of Magic. The winner of two or more games wins overall.

Benefits:

  • Card quality doesn’t matter, since both players are choosing from the same selection.
  • Every game is different, since the card pool players can choose from is randomly selected.
  • A new dimension of strategy is introduced, since you draft your deck in response to your opponent’s drafts.
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The Prisoner (Short Story)

The prison had existed for the sake of the prisoner. The prison had not been for life but life itself, for the prisoner had never known any other. We admit it had been bare, that the prisoner had been a little thinner than his mattress: but because the prisoner had never known the infinitude of the outside world it should have been sufficient. If the prisoner had been capable of putting words to his feelings, he may even have said that the prison’s routines were comforting. We can imagine that, when on Monday his tray had filled with mushroom soup, three slices bread on side; on Tuesday, spaghetti bolognese; on Wednesday, chicken curry; and on the remaining days the corresponding meals, the predictability must have been considerable. Lucky man. Of course, we can only judge by appearances: how his meal was eaten with relish no matter what had been served, how afterwards his hands would dangle by his sides, languid with satiation, a fork and knife sucked clean limp between his fingers – the simple states of a simple prisoner, happy as a well-kept lamb. The people outside are prisoners to the future, unsure of its direction, anxious if their actions correspond to its plans; but the prisoner had been free of such doubts, his future had been secure, predetermined by the wardens, his actions guided by the daily timetable day on day on day. We remember how the prisoner’s vigorous young hand would point to his tray after the meal, asking for more. Most people don’t get something for nothing, but the prisoner always got his. We cared. That hand, when wiped clean by the other, would then tap the table in triple time: triple time, a sure sign of happiness and content. Restlessness? Impossible, he got his exercise. Thirty minutes a day, jogging on the spot: no wonder he had such an appetite.

It is such a shame I have to write this report, for he had been a model prisoner: a clockwork model. He should have been happy. With so small a grasp of words, he should have been free of higher thoughts; free of higher thoughts, he should have been free of negative thoughts, beyond the occasional awareness of a lack of warmth or food, all of which we granted him during his remaining existence. As for the profound misery caused by a belief in higher ideals, always higher than the reach of humanity, we had assumed he had been free of their self-imposed shackles! But the prisoner must have become captive to their metaphysical utopias, which he must have believed existed outside his prison; although he was treated no differently than the others, he must have become dissatisfied.

We remember. Oh, ideals without thoughts, thoughts without words, words without meaning, how they must have made his youthful hands jig and dance up the stones of our prison’s walls, our solid walls, grabbling at their crevices, now forever to be grabbling dissatisfied, up, up, to the vertiginous heights of human freedom – our model prisoner, oh! He had fallen, almost breaking his wretched neck on the other side; but off he rushed, restless with ideals, he knew not where. Freedom, a world without walls, millions of choices made from millions of possibilities day on day on day. Regrets and claustrophobia! We made the bars straight, we made the cells small: we tried to protect you, prisoner!

Carcassonne variants (designed to be played with the base game, plus Inns and Cathedrals and Traders and Builders)

– Lay out five tiles at the beginning of the game. On each player’s turn, he or she can choose to take the right-most tile for free. To take a tile to the left, the player must spend victory points — 1 for the second tile, two for the third, and so on. After a player drafts a tile, move the remaining tiles forward and add a new tile to the back of the line.

– As long as no pieces are on the tiles underneath, you may stack tiles on other tiles. You cannot place pieces on stacked tiles.

– Carcassonne Mini-Expansion: Devil Worship

Any pig in play may be sacrificed by its owner at the end of his or her turn and replaced by a demon. Whenever a player finishes a feature, (s)he may move a demon by one tile in any direction for each feature completed. Any piece sharing a demon’s tile is destroyed. If the demon moves onto a cathedral, the cathedral tile is returned to the bag. If a demon is moved onto any tile surrounding a monk, the demon itself is destroyed.

Royal Chess

Royal Chess: In addition to its standard movement capabilities, the queen may be placed on any square the player’s king could have been moved to during the player’s turn. If the player’s king could have captured a piece, the queen may also capture that piece. If the player’s king could have castled, the queen may move to the king’s destined square (in this event, the player’s rook is not moved however, and the queen’s movement does not count as castling).

Chess Variant: Checked Chess

Each player, either before or after their move, may place one captured piece on any unoccupied square on the board.

For instance, the White Player may check the black king on H8, then place a captured black pawn on H7 to block the king’s escape route. The Black Player may respond by placing a captured white pawn in the path of the piece checking his king (let’s say, a bishop), then moving the black pawn placed on H7 to H5.

Chess Variant: Double-Take Chess

Each player, once per game, can make two moves during one of their turns. These two moves cannot be used to place the opponent’s king in checkmate.

For example, on the eleventh turn White may move his queen and pawn. Black may respond by moving his knight and castling (if he hasn’t already moved twice in one turn during the course of the game).