Saturday, March 22, 2008

There's Only One Decision In Cosmic Wimpout

Cosmic Wimpout is a weird little push-your-luck dice game that's been around for more than a quarter century.
Like Pass the Pigs, the game basically revolves around rolling certain dice combos which score varying amounts of points, with an ever-present chance of rolling a combo that ends the player's turn with no points being scored at all.
Unlike Pass the Pigs, which uses charming little rubber pigs for "dice," Cosmic Wimpout does use cubes, although they are custom cubes with New Age-style symbols on them. Four of the dice are white and have symbols representing "2" "3" "4" and "6" on four sides and a "5" and "10" on the others. There's a fifth, black die, which replaces one of the symbols with a "Sun" which serves as a wild card.
When playing a push-the-luck dice game there's really just one decision to make: Do you stop and score what you have so far or go on in hopes of more. It's a great way to tease out your level of tolerance for risk.
Cosmic Wimpout adds a delicious twist to the mix, which is why it's a more intense game than Pass the Pigs. In Pass the Pigs you can always stop, so it's a pretty straightforward test of risk tolerance, complicated only by the fact that there's absolutely no way to compute any probabilities because the dice are odd-shaped little rubber pigs.
It's a little easier to get a handle on the odds in Cosmic Wimpout because it uses cubic dice, but it may not do you any good. That's because under some conditions you're forced to roll again, generally under conditions that have already netted you some pretty good scores.
Perversely. this makes the moments when you can stop even more precious and the decision more agonizing, which is why this very simple little game has managed to stay popular and build up a dedicated following.
(There are, on occasion, times you can make a minor choice, usually about whether or not to score the "Sun" or roll it again, but this limited choice doesn't change the nature of the game).
Most games are all about choices, Cosmic Wimpout is the rare game that's about just one.

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