If you are looking for a game to take with you on a trip or holiday, then I would look no further than Pass The Pigs. It’s compact, uncomplicated, has very few pieces required to play and can literally be set up in seconds. Even better it requires very little space to actually play. Almost any surface will do. I was going to say any flat surface but really playing on something a little uneven doesn’t hamper the gameplay. I would say that it enhances the experience if anything, but I’ll come to that later.
Setup for Pass The Pigs is very simple. Take out your two rubber pigs, fill in the scoring sheet for the number of players and then you are ready to find your playing space. As this game does involve throwing your plastic porcine pair much like you would a pair of dice, I would suggest choosing a somewhat open space. It can be a pain constantly having to search under furniture for them following an enthusiastic throw. Once that is done, you can start playing.
Pass The Pigs is played in a Round Robin style with the aim to be the first 100 points. Each player turn consists of one throw of the pair of pigs. How the pigs land will determine what a player will score. There a twelve different scoring positions of increasing difficulty to achieve; all of which are named in the rather whimsical style of this game.
At the low end of the scale we have The Sider; where both pigs land on their sides with their legs facing in the same direction, i.e both facing to the left or both facing to the right. This is quite a common position to end up with and will score you 1 Point.
A slightly trickier scoring position is The Trotter; where a pig lands upright on its feet to net a score of 5 Points. Likewise The Razorback where a pig lands on its back will also score 5 points. Both of these scoring positions can occur twice in a single throw for a Double Trotter or Double Razorback; both of which score 20 points.
From there we move to The Snouter and The Leaning Jowler along with their Double Variants. A Snouter is when a pig lands on its snout with its rear end pointing upwards which scores 10 Points or 40 Points for a Double Snouter. The Leaning Jowler is where 1 pig lands on its jowel supported by an ear and one foretrotter. This is the most difficult score to achieve, earning 15 points for a single or 60 points for a Double.
Outside of these scoring throws, there are a few positions to avoid. A Pig Out where both pigs land on opposite sides means loosing all points acumulated that round and passing the turn to the next player. Making Bacon, where both pigs land touching each other, will lose a Player all the Points they have earned in the whole game and will pass play to the next player. Even trickier to achieve, thankfully, is the Piggy Back where one pig lands on top of the other just like he is getting a piggyback ride. Landing in this position means a player is out of the game entirely.
I’m sure that all sounds rather abstract and confusing yet I hope it gives you a flavour for the feel of the game. I feel I should say that despite my frequent use of the word ‘achieve’ when it comes to scoring, this is more a game of luck than skilled tossing of pigs. I’m sure you could, with judicious applied study, learn such a skill. But that I think would take all the fun out of the game.
While Pass The Pigs is a unique and esoteric travel game that is enjoyable in short bouts, it’s somewhat simple play style does offer limited replay value; certainly for older players. This is not a game for a group of friends to settle down and unwind with a long play session. For parents looking for something to entertain the kids that doesn’t require much set up or clear up, it’s pretty much perfect. If you have a bag of travel games, this would make a perfect addition to it.
Unless that is you decide to play the Hog Call version of the rules, where opposing players try to steal points from each other by correctly guessing the throw the current player makes. A player that correctly calls the throw result made by another player he or she earns double the score his or her opponent would have made while subtracting that score from the outplayed opponent. The risk is that if the call is incorrect that player looses double that score and that opponent gains double his score.Either way it’s simple, gentle and slightly wacky and that’s a rare thing these days.