Posted by: brian | December 7, 2008

Warmongering with crackers

How to run an animal cracker war

A game for 1 or more players, age limits based on possession of teeth.

  1. Acquire animal crackers.
    Any brand will do, provided it’s relatively easy to identify what the animal is. Iced or frosted varieties might make identification more difficult, and are recommended only for advanced players.

    Acquire animal crackers

    Acquire animal crackers

  2. Make sure that at least some of the crackers are broken, but not into too many pieces, or pieces that are too small.
    There are a couple of ways to do this:

    • Buy a brand that is known to have an acceptable breakage quotient (BQ). What qualifies as “acceptable” is largely an issue of personal preference. (For those who care, the method for determining BQ is provided below.)
    • For bagged crackers, lightly smash the bag to break up some of the contents.
      Note: It may take a couple of attempts to determine the right smashing intensity and duration necessary to achieve an appropriate QB. The trick is to smash enough to break up some of the crackers, but to avoid creating a mess of small pieces or a fine powder.
    • For boxed crackers, depending on the crackers’ fragility index, shake the box vigorously for between 10 seconds and one minute. Crackers with high fragility indices need to be shaken less than crackers with low indices.
    • If boxed crackers are shake-resistant, transfer them to a bag and follow the instructions for bagged crackers as given in step 2b.

      Lightly smash (optional)

      Lightly smash (optional)

  3. Take two cracker units from the container and lay them out facing each other on a clean surface.
    Note: A cracker unit (CU) is a single discrete cracker or cracker piece.
  4. Based on selected criteria, determine which cracker unit “wins” the battle.
    You can define your own criteria as you go, or set them all in advance. Some possible criteria include:

    • A whole cracker always beats a partial CU.
    • Carnivores always beat herbivores.
    • For non-whole CUs, a piece that includes a head always beats a piece that does not.
    • A larger CU beats a smaller CU.
    • The CU that represents a larger real-life animal beats a CU that represents a smaller real-life animal.
    • A tool-user (such as a primate) always wins.
      elephant vs. front half of tiger

      Sample matchup: elephant vs. front of tiger

      front of lion vs monkey

      Sample matchup: front of lion vs monkey

  5. Devour the loser.
  6. Select a new CU to face the winner of the first match, and return to step 4. Repeat this process until all CUs have been eaten or until you’re sick of animal crackers.

Multi-player variants
Games for multiple players follow the same basic rules. However, with multiple players, you can apply different criteria for determining the winner of each match. Some possibilities include:

For 2 players
Each player puts forth an argument as to why his or her CU would win. The winning player devours the loser’s CU. Or, if the crackers suck, the losing player eats it.

For 3 players
Two players make arguments supporting their piece, as in the 2-player variation, but the third player takes the role of arbiter, and determines the winner based on the arguments. The role of arbiter can be permanent for the duration of the war, or can rotate with each new match.

For even more players
Set up a tournament. The winners of the first-round matches face each other in round two, etc.

How to determine the breakage quotient
Just eyeball the damn thing. It’s not really that technical.


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