Events: Build-a-Wand Workshop

In the Build-a-Wand Workshop, teams earned and traded cards to make a hand that earned a target score. The cards represented elements of a magic wand that the teams were assembling; once the hand was “magical” enough, the teams received their reward: a pencil with the solution phrase printed on it. Each team consisted of two players: a primary duelist and a secondary duelist.

[build a wand instructions] [image of a hand of cards] [dirham the wizard]

As teams entered the room, they received an envelope with four cards inside: one Attribute card, one Base card, one Core card, and one Grip card. They could earn up to two more cards of each type by competing in duels against players on other teams. The dueling stations each had one basic rule: two teams compete in a quick challenge, with the winner getting first pick of two possible cards and the loser receiving the remaining card. The four dueling stations were as follows:

Thing of Attri-Beauty

At this station, the primary duelists had to communicate a word to their teammates by using their bodies. Think Y-M-C-A but a lot more challenging. Speaking (or using sign language) was strictly forbidden. The first secondary duelist to correctly guess the word got first pick of two Attribute cards.

All Your Base

At this station, players had to find a strong base and go head-to-head in a one-legged staring contest. The primary duelists faced off against each other, while the secondary players were allowed to interfere with their opponent as long as they didn’t touch the player or obstruct their line of sight. If a primary duelist blinked or touched their second foot to the ground, the duel ended. Winning team got first pick of two Base cards.

Core Competency

At this station, the primary duelists stood a few paces apart and pointed at each other. They then had to close their eyes, spin around three times, and then wait for the host to tell them to open their eyes again. Whichever duelist was pointing closer to their opponent won the duel and earned first pick from among two Core cards. (Secondary duelists were tasked with watching their opponents to make sure that the rules were followed.)

Get a Grip

At this station, players competed in a game of Wolf-Wizard-Gnome, a full-body variant of rock-paper-scissors using dramatic poses. This was a lively best-of-three competition between primary duelists who were seeking first pick from a pair of Grip cards.

[a card station in action] [the get a grip station in action]

Each team was able to compete at each station twice, thereby earning up to two additional cards of each type. Their final hand for scoring could contain no more than seven cards total, and had to contain at least one card of each of the four types. So with 12 possible cards, there was plenty of fodder for trading.

Trading could happen in one of two ways. First, teams were welcome (and encouraged) to trade cards with each other. Second, they could make 2-for-1 trades with the house. These trades could come in either of two forms. First, they could trade any two cards of the same type for whichever other card of that type that they wanted (so they could trade two unmatched Base cards for a different Base card, for example). Second, they could trade any two identical cards for any other card of any type that they wanted (so they could trade two Hornbeam cards for one Alchemy card, even though Hornbeam and Alchemy are different card types).

Three of the card types – Base, Core, and Grip – were collectively known as Materials. These cards had no special properties other than their names, cards numbers, and a base value between 8 and 14. The other card type – Attribute – was the real key to differentiating a hand. The Attribute cards each presented a different type of scoring rule that worked in conjunction with other cards to add scoring opportunities that went far beyond the base values of the Materials. The key to success in the game was finding combinations of cards that worked well enough together that they could reach the target score.

There were no cards that were particularly rare or powerful. In fact any cards could form the basis for a winning hand as long as some care went into choosing the supporting cards that went along with them. The event was more about light social gameplay and a moderate amount of consideration while assembling a set of cards that worked well together and less about making ruthlessly efficient trades or trying to absolutely maximize any given strategy. As a general guideline, a two-Attribute strategy could work if a team did A- or B-level work in building out the supporting Materials, while a 3-Attribute strategy could work with B- or C-level support. (A 4-Attribute strategy was very difficult to pull off given how few Materials could be used, but an expertly crafted 4-Attribute strategy could earn some serious points!)

There were 46 different cards available in the pool (10 Attributes and 12 of each type of Material), and card lists were posted at the trading station. As a help to the players (and to avoid the need for teams to use the internet), we added subtle markings to some of the cards to indicate whether they contained a specific property (such as beginning with a valid 2-letter chemical symbol, or being a valid present-tense verb). As the event progressed, the Wizard would also advise teams on good potential cards to help bolster their current strategy.

When teams were ready to test their hand, they would bring their cards to the scoring table. We would enter their card numbers into our scoring program and get the results right away. If the score met or exceeded the target value, the teams would earn their "wand" in the form of a pencil with the solution phrase, "IT'S A WANDERFUL LIFE", printed on it.

award pencil-wands