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Game Review: HysteriCoach Hockey

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People generally do not think of board games as a time for screaming and arm-waving, but Scribabs and Kikigagne? certainly do. Walter Obert updated his original soccer creation, HysteriCoach, into a hockey-themed game for the American and Canadian markets. In both games, players line up on opposite sides of the table, and yelling matches compete for who is able to make a goal. Combining the wildness of party games and the strategy of board games, HysteriCoach Hockey makes for a game as exhilarating and exhausting as hockey itself.

HysteriCoach Hockey is definitely for energetic parties. It requires a minimum of four players, but can go well into the teens. To play, the grid-lined board is set up, and players are divided into equal teams. Each team gets a coach who stands on the far end of the table, amid the other teams’ players. Both the coach and the players get a “Nation Team Roster” card, which shows the purposely difficult-to-pronounce names of the skaters on the board. The coach draws a Play card, which illustrates where each skater needs to be on the grid to make a complicated series of passes that match the card. To get the skaters into position, the coach has to yell their names (never the numbers) while the other team is playing “defense” by yelling to interrupt.

The yelling is the key to the game. Like in word-based party games such as Catchphrase, the coach is limited on useable words. He or she cannot give specific one-word directions such as “forward, backward, ahead, left, or right” and has to use the complicated names such as “”Josahosthea,” “Slamkowitz,” and “Tuuyutglulaac” rather than the easier numbers written on the jerseys. The coach must be clever, patient yet aggressive, and, above all, loud. Once all players are in position, the coach ends play by yelling, “He shoots!”

At this point, the opposing team’s coach may analyze the Play card. If the layout is incorrect, a “penalty” is given and play changes to the other team. If everything is correct, the team rolls a six-sided die to see if they score. First team to four goals is the winner.

Optional rules give time limits, which make the game even more intense. Players want to score as quickly as possible to make sure they are not caught when the buzzer rings, making it a game of Hot Potato but with specific instructions on how to get rid of the potato. The die-roll makes the game seem too luck-based, and the speed and necessity of communication in the timed game is definitely our favorite.

HysteriCoach Hockey takes about 30 minutes to play and is recommended for players eight years old and up. While younger players can certainly keep up with the energy required, they may not have the attention span to get the precise positioning of the players on the Play card. On the other extreme, older folks may not wish for such a wearying game. For those in the middle, however… “He shoots! He scores!”

Play Nation has a video of the game in action, and it is madness.

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About Jeff Provine

Jeff Provine is a Composition professor, novelist, cartoonist, and traveler of three continents. His latest book is a collection of local ghost legends, Campus Ghosts of Norman, Oklahoma.