by Catriona Mills

Articles in “Gaming”

Packrat Woes

Posted 19 April 2008 in by Catriona

The latest set in Packrat—the Facebook game that’s hands down the best application on the site—is called “The Quest for Montezuma.” The creators specify that it’s a tricky set, largely because you need an enormous number of maize cards and gold coin cards to make any of the high-end items.

Three maize cards will make a patolli game; three patolli games will make a codex. Three gold coins will make a spotted leopard; three spotted leopards will make a turquoise mask. Then you use the turquoise mask to make Montezuma’s headdress.

To complete the set, then—as far as gold coins alone go—you need to vault the coin itself, then a spotted leopard (another three coins), then a turquoise mask (another nine coins, to make three leopards), then another mask to make the headdress (another nine coins, or three leopards.) That’s a total of 23 gold coins to complete the set.

You need an almost equal number of maize cards, and of rubber trees, which you use to make rubber balls, then a Toltec warrior (by combining three rubber balls), then an Aztec temple (by combining the warrior, a map, and a conquistador’s helmet.)

That’s fine, as far as maize and rubber trees go—they don’t appear for sale very often, but you can buy them at the markets.

But those elusive 23 gold coins! To make the quest harder, it seems, the creators have limited the release of gold coins. You can’t buy them at the markets; instead, they’re pop-up cards (which randomly appear as you flick through your friends’ packs) and vault bonuses (which appear in your pack once you’ve vaulted a set of five or more cards from another set.)

Except that they never pop up for me.

Well, okay—once. Which isn’t much help when you need 23 of them.

And I don’t think they’re popping up that regularly for other people, since they don’t seem to be turning up in other people’s packs.

And although the aim of the game is to steal cards from other people to complete your sets, many of us aim to play co-operatively: to not steal cards from our friends unless they’ve given us permission. I prefer to play this way, because I don’t have the guilt of stealing cards that people have been husbanding, hoping to complete a set, and I know they will treat my pack the same way.

But it does make it difficult to get those elusive gold coins.

To make it worse, I’m somewhat addicted to Packrat, and I’ve completed—to the best of my ability, barring a couple of special delivery cards that I’ve never even seen—every other set currently available. So I have no other option but to work on “The Quest for Montezuma.”

On the plus side, I’m collecting quite a nice stash of credits in my futile flicking through other people’s packs trying to find gold coins.

But on the other hand, I hope they release some more new sets soon. There’s a limit to how many patolli games I’m willing to make, if there’s no possibility of more spotted leopards or turquoise masks in my future.

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