The Game Aisle’s 1st review back on July 1, 2009!
If your family is anything like mine, there’s a whole shelving unit dedicated to old games in the basement of your parent’s house. There are some well-worn classics like Monopoly, Sorry and the version of Clue with the stable and fountain from the late ‘80s. But it’s also teeming with games you’ve never heard of and definitely never played because they sound so dull you’d rather clean the basement than play the game. Like “The IRS Game” I recently unearthed in my father’s house. He’s a CPA so I’m sure it was some sort of gag gift, but honestly, who would want to play a game about the organization that makes sure we stay good citizens and pay our taxes? I left that one where I found it.
The game I was looking for comes in a small box and was invented just after the turn of the century — the last century that is. It’s called Pit and although the name isn’t bad, it’s the “commodities trading” theme that is outright unappealing. I’ll admit, it’s pretty hard to convince a group of players to sit down for a fun game of commodities trading, but I managed to sucker some friends into playing recently. They didn’t have much of a choice since we were out of town and their alternatives were pretty slim, but I was happy that they obliged and promised it wouldn’t disappoint.
As one of my all-time favorite party games, Pit is easy to explain, even easier to learn and it’s quick. The game is made up of rounds that are a free-for-all of people trading cards until they’ve “cornered the market” on one commodity, meaning they managed to collect every single wheat or soybean card in the game. During this process people are feverishly yelling how many cards they want to trade, reaching across the table and over other player’s hands to conduct the card swap in hopes of finding the last couple cards they are missing. The frenzy comes to halt when a player triumphantly rings the bell to signal that they have cornered the market. As the other players sigh, the winner collects points and the next round is started. The quick, fast rounds keep everyone excited, but adding twists like silent rounds or playing with the bull and bear cards add another level to play with the bull acting like a wild and the bear like an old maid.
While I have an older version of Pit that I found buried in a dusty corner, this game can be purchased new for less than $20. It comes with eight different commodities to trade and a bell. Sadly, since this game isn’t as well known as it should be, it probably won’t be available in your local Wal-Mart, but according to the manufacturer, it can be found at Toys ‘R’ Us stores nationwide. There are also plenty of online retailers including Amazon.com who carry the game and it’s worth the 3-5 day shipping wait. But if that’s too long, check out www.winning-moves.com to find a store near you that carries this classic game.
In the end, even though my friends had some pretty low expectations going into the game, when we finally decided to stop and grab some dinner they were all amazed at how much fun it was. There have already been some requests for me to bring Pit with me whenever we get together next.
So grab 3-8 of your closest friends (over the age of 7) and spend the afternoon “cornering the market!” Maybe just leave out the game’s theme when you ask them to play.