Waterworks

Updated: Dec 4, 2019

This is a review I wrote that was originally published in Games & Puzzles magazine in 1978. Even today, the presentation of this game stands out: look at the solid plastic bathtub insert used to house the draw and discard piles, and look at the metal spanners. It's hard to imagine a game like this coming with anything more than cardboard chits to represent the spanners.

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Waterworks (Parker Borthers). Plumbing seems a most unromantic theme for a card game, yet in Waterworks the object of the game is to be the first to lay a water pipeline of a certain minimum length from faucet valve to spout.


Players are dealt five cards of a pack of 100, each depicting a length of copper, lead or leaky pipe in one of ·several shapes. At each turn a player can either lay a· piece of copper pipe (which can never leak) or lead pipe (which is vulnerable to leaking) on his own pipeline, or lay a leaky pipe card adjacent to an opponent's last played card or over it if the card depicted a lead pipe of the same shape as that depicted on the leaky pipe card. Alternatively, a player ·may simply discard. Players always replenish to bring the number of cards in their hand back up to five.

Where a player has a leaky pipe card laid on his pipeline, he cannot add to his own pipeline until he repairs the leak. This can be done by covering the leaky card with a non-leaky card of identical shape, or by placing over the leaky card one of the player's two wrenches - these can each be used once to 'repair' leaky pipes.

Although the attractive presentation helps, Waterworks is not dependent on its presentation to the detriment of playability. The mixture of racing to complete one's own pipeline coupled with the need to sabotage one's opponents' plumbing certainly provides for a fun if not particularly original game.

The rules of the game, well-illustrated and presented as a 'Plumbers Manual', are generally very clear although these fail to cover the situation which can arise where a player lays a leaky card onto an opponent's pipeline which turns the pipeline into such a small space as to make it impossible for the opponent to finish his pipe. The alternatives in this situation are either to prohibit players from turning an opponent's pipeline in this manner (which is frustrating to the potential saboteur) or to allow such sabotage (even more frustrating for the victim).

Pedantic members of the Games & Puzzles Testing Panel also faulted the presentation for showing the initials 'PB' on some of the copper pipe illustrations. Presumably standing for Parker Brothers, chemists will be quick to point out that the same initials are also the chemical symbol for lead. This seems a most unfortunate coincidence. Doubtless, corporate pride prevented the publishers from putting their initials on the vulnerable lead piping.


(Review by Selwyn Ward)


#ParkerBrothers #plumbing #leakypipe #Waterworks #cardgame

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