CAN'T STOP aka CAN'T STOP THE TURTLES
When 3M left the game business, Sackson became a free agent. One of his very best games was licensed to Parker Brothers in the early '80s. This time, Sid turned his attention to dice.
CAN'T STOP is based on the fact that it's easier to make a 7 with dice than it is a 2. In fact, as anyone who's taken any dice game seriously knows, the chances in 36 of making numbers are as follows: 2: 1 in 36, 3: 2 in 36, 4: 3 in 36, 5: 4 in 36, 6: 5 in 36, 7: 6 in 36, 8: 5 in 36, and on back down to 12: 1 in 36.
The game is played on a board that's shaped like a stop sign, with square indentations making columns under the numbers from 2 to 12. There are 3 indentations in the 2 column, 5 indentations in the 3 column, on up to 13 indentations in the 7 column, and back down to 3 indentations in the 12 column. To win the game, a player must capture three columns.
There are four dice. On each roll, the player chooses how he wants to pair off the dice, making two numbers from two dice each. He's got three temporary place markers. At the start of the game, let's say he rolls a 1, 2, 4, and 6. He can call that a 3 and a 10, or a 5 and an 8, but he chooses to call it a 6 and a 7. He places two of the place markers at the bottom of the 6 and 7 columns. He rolls again. This time, he gets three 1's and a 6. The only possible combination is 2 and 7. So, he moves the marker that's already in the 7 column up one notch, and places the last marker in the 2 column.
From here on in, he can keep rolling and advancing the markers as long as it's possible to make either a 2, a 6, or a 7. After every roll, he can pass the dice and call his turn over, replacing the temporary markers with markers in his color. This progress up the columns is permanent, and he'll continue from there on subsequent turns. However, if he rolls a 4, a 5, and two 6's, he craps out as he can't make any of his numbers, the temporary markers come off the board, and he's made no progress on this turn. Once he gets to the top of a column, he has captured it, and three columns wins the game.
The beauty of the game is in that ability to keep on going. It's so tempting to try just one more roll, and so nerve-racking to know that it'll probably be one roll too many. And as much as you take the odds into consideration, dice are capricious. This is almost always a raucous game, with players taunting each other, trying to goad them into going too far, or teasing them for being chicken when they play it safe. My kids (12 and 8) adore this game, and even wrote Sackson a fan letter as a result. It's been out of print for at least a decade, but is well worth hunting for. It's also a game that can be played casually, or seriously. Here's a link to a page about CAN'T STOP that shows you just how seriously it can be taken! (Note: if anyone wants to play this system against me for money, I'd be willing anytime!)
There's a great variant on the game known as "CAN'T STOP CAN'T STOP" which a friend told me about, and it's really a lot of fun. As you move your marker up a column, if you place it on the marker of another player, you're not allowed to stop until you've got squares all to yourself. This adds quite a few additional strategic elements to the game. For instance, it's sometimes a great defensive move to go into the 2 or 12 column, just to block it, since if someone is forced into playing in that column, they'll have to roll another one before they can stop. We decided that this variant is much better with 4 players than 3, by the way. Give it a try! (By the way, if anyone out there knows who came up with this excellent variant, please email me and I'll give them their proper credit here!)
By the way, you CAN play CAN'T STOP with 5 players, but you'll need an additional set of tokens. You can get them by finding a copy of Parker Brothers' ADVANCE TO BOARDWALK, which used the same mold for its pieces, but in four different colors! Won't your friends be envious when they see that your set of CAN'T STOP has also gray, burgundy, orange, and ivory tokens!
Interestingly enough, CAN'T STOP began its life as a pencil and paper game called THE GREAT RACES, which you can find in the Jan/Feb 1978 issue of GAMES MAGAZINE and in THE SIX PACK OF PAPER AND PENCIL GAMES.
Though the classic Parker edition of this game is long out of print, there's a German edition that adds a mountain climbing theme to the game (!?!?) but is still the same great fun game, that is usually still available. Click on the photo above to see if Funagain has it in stock.
A fine company called Winning Moves which has reissued some classic American games has just come out with a new version of CAN'T STOP, under the name of CAN'T STOP THE TURTLES! This, primarily, because it's being put out as a companion to their successful PASS THE PIGS game. The game has been modified quite a bit, dispensing with the board altogether. There are individual "race cards" numbered 2 through 12, and you get to play on three of the cards during your turn (corresponding to the columns on the board). When you roll the correct numbers, you get to place a chip on the card, and progress is marked on a score pad. It's quite a bit quicker than the original game, since rather than needing 3 to win the 2 column, 5 to win the 3 column, 7 to win the 4 column, etc. up to 13 in the 7 column, this version needs only 2 for the 2 column, 3 for the 3 column, on up to 7 for the 7 column and then back down again. Also, they've added one wild card die marking in place of one of the ones, which makes it even easier. They're certainly to be congratulated (and encouraged) for making available again one of the classic American games, but... well, think of it as "CAN'T STOP LITE." So, if you can't find the original, it's still a lot of fun and it's widely available at a reasonable price. And there's certainly nothing to stop you from using this cute little set to play by the original rules.
NEW! Download, for free, a nifty little version of CAN'T STOP that you can play on your computer, either with friends or against the machine. It's available as raw Qbasic code (30K) which needs QBasic to run, or as a compiled EXE file (105K) which will run by itself on a PC. If you don't plan to modify the code, I recommend the latter. Special thanks to George Crawshay of the UK for his generosity and programming skill.
Click to see if Funagain Games has:
The Classic Parker CAN'T STOP or the German Franjos CAN'T STOP.
On to "Domination" (aka "Focus")...