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The double colored wooden pegs are placed at random in rows in the spaces between the fingers of the hand sculpture, and the hoop is placed over the thumb. Players positions themselves around the hand so that they each can see only one side of the hand and thus only one end and one color of the wooden pegs.
Each player tries to take as many matching pegs (both colors must match) as possible from out of the hand. Here, of course, is where the Handicap comes in. Only the player skilled enough to extract the pairs of pegs of his choice, without letting the others fall out, is likely to win. If the player is successful he can put these pegs aside for the moment.
These pegs are ideally kept until the end of the game, but may be lost during the game if the player is challenged to a Hoop-la Duel. The player can also increase his own collection of pegs by challenging opponents with the same color combination as his own to a duel. Whoever has the most points at the end of the game is the winner.
Theta is a German company that makes big games with nice wooden components. Their price matches the quality, as each of their games will set you back about $50. Most of the games fall into the "dexterity" category, and they claim that you'll only unbox the game once since they look so good out of the box. They do look good, but if you display them it will probably be because the boxes do not fit well on normal sized bookshelves. Some of the games are excellent, while others look better than they play. For the uninitiated, here is a review of the Theta games:
[page 04201#001548]jump to Headquarter review
[page 07809#001549]jump to Saturn review
[page 07805#001550]jump to Cubicado review
[page 04530#001551]jump to Pusher review
[page 04520#001552]jump to Tribalance review
[page 07806#001553]jump to Fire review
The second in Theta's body-part series (with Headquarter), Handicap uses the dual-color piece concept (with rods rather than connected squares) of Headquarter in a matching contest. The rods are stacked between the fingers of a large hand profile that is placed between the players, and on their turn each player tries to draw two matching rods given that they can only see one side. If they are successful, they keep drawing and ultimately score points for having the most matches with bonuses for having multiple matches of the same color combination. Sounds straightforward, but Handicap throws in (literally) an odd addition.
The thumb of the hand profile points straight up, and at the beginning a small rubber hoop is placed over the thumb. At any point in the game, a player can challenge an opponent to a ``Hoop-la Duel'' if he thinks that they are collecting the same color combinations. Based on a pre-agreed distance, the players toss the hoop trying to ``ring'' the thumb, and the successful tosser takes all the pieces collected of the color combination be battled for. If this weren't odd enough, the rods are very unstable between the fingers of the hand and fall out easily, making this a very chaotic and somewhat frustrating game. If you get around the strangeness, though, it's pretty satisfying and unique enough to warrant a look.
Step by Step
[page 07808#001555]jump to Step by Step review
A Quick Summary
The eight games in the Theta collection share the common features of quality wooden components, big boxes, great aesthetics, focus on physics, and high prices. Here is a buyers guide for those interested. The number in parenthesis refers to the "dexterity/strategy" mix, with 1 meaning only dexterity and 10 meaning only strategy: