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CURRICULUM VITAE: Woolgathering

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WOOLGATHERING
(Groupthink)

Players are given a category that has members three, four, five, six, and seven letters in length. Each player must independently decide which of these enumerations would produce the greatest number of different answers; this is the “bonus” enumeration. The player does not choose an answer for the bonus enumeration but must choose one answer for each of the other four. The players share answers for each enumeration and score 1 point for each valid answer and a number of bonus points equal to the number of different answers given by other players for the bonus enumeration.

The title of this game is a play on the parlor game Sheep; both games involve predicting the choices of one’s opponents and reward convergence over divergence. Tom Gazzola has played this game with his students and calls it simply “3-4-5-6-7,” which is reasonable simplification. I debuted the game at a minicon in Los Angeles. Some of the players noted that the larger enumerations tended to produce the higher bonus scores and speculated that always choosing 7 as the bonus enumeration would be the best strategy. That might be true unless all of the other players planned on adopting that strategy. It is true that word game categories favor the higher enumerations for the variety of valid answers and I found it challenging to come up with categories that have a number of 3-letter options. Trees, Names in the Bible, and Golf Terms were some that I used.

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