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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Teaching Guide for Epic written by Conor Kostick

O'Brien have posted a Teaching Guide for Epic written by Conor Kostick. This contains discussion points and activities for classroom use. I enjoyed reading this. An interesting excerpt:

This activity demonstrates how a bias in a system can quickly lead to huge unfairness. It requires two to four packs of playing cards depending on class size and time. Explain the rules in advance.
  • Place squares of paper in a box, all white apart from six that are yellow.
  • Ask everyone to pick a square. Those with the yellow ones are Central Allocations (CA).
  • Hand out two playing cards randomly to every person but three to CA.
  • Everyone then has a few minutes to swap cards with each other if they want to.
  • At the end of the trading time you add up the value of the cards, with Aces being 3pts, King, Queen, Jack, 2pts, the rest 1pt.
  • Now, the critical bit! If 2 cards are the same suit, add 2pts to the score. If a CA player has a set of 2 the same suit they add 2pts, if they have 3 of the same suit they add 3pts. The top six scores become the new Central Allocations.
  • Collect all the cards, except those possessed by the CA members, who get to keep theirs. Repeat.
  • If time allows, repeat again.
It should be clear to everyone that all the cards are going to end up in the hands of CA and it has become impossible to get on the committee if you only have 2 cards. Stop the game at this point. Ask the class what can be done about the unfairness of the game. Possible strategies for those outside CA include refusing to play, co-operating to get an individual up into CA by pooling cards, refusing to return cards, persuading CA people to give back their extra cards. If they can’t decide upon any of these then you might wish to declare the person with the most points as inner. I played a version of this game once. A group of about 10 of us pooled our cards, collectively giving us a very high points score, although the game ended in confusion because the rules didn’t allow for 10 people taking up 1 place on CA. It was interesting though, as by the second round we realised something had to be done to change the rules.

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