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Jim Barker
Jim Barker

Joker Game


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My in-laws have a board game called Joker. It involves drawing standard playing cards and moving marbles around a board. The strategy is to keep track of the number of spaces between marbles and desired locations and try to keep as many options open based on probabilities of cards being drawn. My wife's brother-in-law, Greg Gonsalves, made a board for me. Greg has always been handy with tools and led the maker movement long before its recent blossoming.


The Joker game is a runner designed in the style of the famous movie of the same name. Perhaps everyone has watched or at least heard about this psychological thriller. In the game, you run through the city of Gotham and try your best not to get caught by the police. Along the way, you may also come across trees, garbage cans and even a coal-fired boiler. To avoid colliding with these elements, jump or bend over, depending on the situation.


As you may or may not recall from my review of Batman: Return of the Joker on the NES, I liked it quite a bit. It was a complete package of great controls, graphics, and music that made it a little slice of classic NES heaven. Reason stood to believe then that a version of the game from Sunsoft on the Game Boy that arrived several months after the console game would offer a similar experience, but on an understandably smaller scale. Boy, was I wrong.


Pegs and Jokers is a North American race game for four, six or eight players, using playing-cards to move pegs around a board. It is also sometimes known as Jokers and Pegs. Some board designs use marbles instead of pegs as the playing pieces in which case it may be called Marbles and Jokers or Jokers and Marbles.


Pegs and Jokers is clearly derived ultimately from the Indian race game Pachisi, a race game using dice for movement, probably via its American derivative Sorry!, in which pawns are moved according to cards drawn from a special deck.


Pegs and Jokers is a partnership game played with standard playing-cards on boards that are generally home-made. It allows extra scope for strategy by giving players a choice of cards to play. Each player has five pegs, and the winners are the first team to move all their pegs from their START area to their HOME areas.


Standard decks of cards are used, with two jokers in each deck. Three decks (162 cards including 6 jokers) may be enough for up to six players: eight players should use four decks (216 cards including 8 jokers).


Four players use a four-sided board; six players use a six-sided board; eight players use an eight-sided board - one side for each player, each associated with a different color. Each player has five pegs in the color that corresponds to the side of the board nearest to them. Each side of the board has a straight section of track 18 units long: there is a corner hole at each end, shared between two adjacent sides, and 17 holes between them. The 8th hole after the corner is the "come out" position for the pegs on that side, and next to it is the colored "start" area with five holes where the pegs of that color are stored at the start of the game. The 3rd hole after the corner is the "in-spot" for that color, and branching off at the "in-spot" is a colored private track of 5 holes, which is the "home" or "safe" area or "castle", where the pegs end their journey. The diagram below shows one side of the board.


Some people use coloured golf tees as the pegs for this game. Others use the small colored plastic bulbs that fit into ceramic christmas trees - supplies of these bulbs can be obtained from Ceramic Art Space.


If you have any card (except a joker) that allows you to move a peg, you must play such a card, even if the move is disadvantageous. However, if you have no cards (except jokers) that enable you to move you may discard one card of your choice without moving and draw a card to replace it. This ends your turn. Discarding without moving normally happens only at the start of the game, when a player has no aces or pictures to




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