Fool of a Goose!

“Another one of life’s disappointments”, sighs the Silly Goose.

The goose forlornly sits under a tree, with a handful of peanuts and a piece of cardboard saying “Down on my luck”.

“What have you done this time?”

“It all started when I was trapped in some contraption”. started the Silly Goose. “With a number of sliding bars, hot lava, cold water, a big pile of gold and a big smiling cheetah.”

Uh oh, I think to myself. This can’t be good.

“I can’t remember the name of the game. Perhaps it was ‘War Horse’ or something like that.”

“What happened?”

“My friend, the monkey, pulls a few sliding bars at random. I plead with him to slow down and think, but to no avail. The monkey is about to pull the last handle but soon realises the error of his ways.

I have a feeling someone or something is watching us, but I am too engrossed in the Goose’s story to care.

“Fortunately, I was able to escape … by waking up in a cold sweat.”

From the Goose’s body language, I can tell this isn’t the end of the story.

“The next day, I decided to have some fun with the local Dupe Spider Solitaire club, run by the same Cheetah.”

facepalm

“It’s really convenient,” continues the Silly Goose. “Everyone is real friendly. Free nibbles and drinks. Best of all you don’t have to manually shuffle the cards. The cheetah gives you preset hands. He arranges which opponents you play. You pay 250 peanuts to enter, and he gives you a bonus 250 peanuts, so you effectively start with 500. Lovely chap the cheetah. He organises everything for you.”

facepalm

The Silly Goose then mumbles something about the easy-going Cheetah having an engaging personality, but by this stage I wasn’t really paying attention. I’m not even sure if the goose is aware of the literal meaning of “dupe” in Dupe Spider Solitaire.

“It all started well enough. I started with p500 . It costs p25 to play a game. Score more points than your opponent and you win the peanuts. I won the first ten hands … “

(btw, p is the official symbol for peanuts, just like how we use $ for dollars).

“That puts you on p750 if my math is cor-”

“Um … I never made it past p700.”

“How is that so? I have a math Ph. D. There is no way I could muck up an elementary math problem.”

“Math Ph. D.’s have been known to make elementary mistakes,” retorts the Silly Goose. “It happens to the best of us”.

“Yes I know that,” I reply tersely “But look! p25 times 10. That means we add a zero to make p250 …”

And so we argue and argue and argue and argue and argue. It takes me a good few minutes to realise there is a thing called “rake”. In a standard casino the rake may be anywhere between 2.5% to 10% for a poker session. So if a player wins a pot of say p100 and the rake is 5%, then he only really wins p95 instead of p100. The Cheetah actually has a rake of a whopping 16%, and this means the Silly Goose’s math was correct. Okay, I will give the Silly Goose credit for getting something right for a change.

“When did you realise something was wrong?” I ask.

“I only realised my goose was cooked after losing four hands in a row against Ninja Monkey. By that stage I only had five peanuts left.”

facepalm

I look at the handful of peanuts sitting in front of the Silly Goose. She indeed has only five peanuts left.

“Fool of a Goose!”, I mutter to myself in a not-so-authentic Gandalf impersonation.

“I’m sorry,” murmurs the Silly Goose.

“It’s okay,” I say. “I know you can play a decent game of Spider Solitaire, compared to most of my other students. But from now on, just stay at the local Dup-LICATE Spider Solitaire Club.” Make sure the D-word has nine letters, not four. Only play with people you know. And don’t ever play with big money. And if it’s organised by an animal that sounds like C-H-E-A-T-E-R then you should run, run, run!”

Oops, I just realised the Cheetah is the fastest animal in the animal kingdom. At least the Goose didn’t pick up on my faux pas as she nods sheepishly (even though she is a goose, not a sheep).

“What is that?” I ask, pointing at the Silly Goose’s new toy. I hadn’t noticed it before, since it was hiding under the down-on-my-luck piece of cardboard . No harm changing the subject, I guess.

“That’s a special Spider Cube. At least I won the lucky door prize at the Dupe Spider Solitaire club.”

“Lucky door prize?”

“Yes,” replies the Silly Goose. “For every ten hands you play you get an extra ticket, hence more chances of winning. Oh, I’ve heard you can wield a mean Rubik’s Cube – I’m hopeless at these things”.

facepalm

Typical Cube Scheme, I think to myself. At least it wasn’t a Rubik’s Pyramid. But I have to admit the pictures of little spiders on each sticker are so cute  😊

I am curious as to what possessed the Silly Goose to live up to her name. My curiosity doesn’t long. Thanks to my peripheral vision I quickly notice the Bad Idea Bears hiding behind a tree and snickering to themselves.

Okay so what is this Solitaire Cube thingy all about?

Solitaire Cube

It would be nice if the Solitaire Cube combined my talents of playing Spider Solitaire well and solving Rubik’s Cube (and if there is no cool music I can always play piano at the same time) but apparently they have tournaments where you can play for money. We’re not talking small amounts of virtual money plus a small percentage of dot com stock options indexed to inflation but real money.

Solitaire Cube is your regular i-Phone app with the usual eye candy, cool music and/or sound effects – and best of all it takes the tedium out of shuffling the cards. It was developed by Tether Studios and powered by Skillz, an eSports platform that manages the $$$$

Players are matched with opponents with similar skills in real-time and world-wide. You are scored according to certain rules (which will not be discussed in detail), so even if you can’t win you are still rewarded for partial achievements, such as exposing most of the cards. If you score more than your opponent, then you win the $$$$.

There is also a 5-minute timer, so the game ends as soon as you run out of time. Or you can quit early, cut your losses and take the bonus for time remaining. There is a practice mode where you have virtual currency (Z coins, minus the dot com stock options as described above). Once you are comfortable with practice mode then you can go to the Pro League.

There is something similar for Spider Solitaire Cube, but I described Solitaire Cube first because that seems way more popular (Klondike is much better known than Spider). Besides I would expect former and latter to have much in common.

So that’s the theory, but don’t give up your day job just yet

If I got word of mouth from a trusted work colleague then I might seriously consider wanting in on this. But I heard about Solitaire Cube only because I play way too much match-three games on my mobile and can’t be bothered getting rid of the ads.

There seems to be a growing scourge of low-quality games that are designed to cheat. For instance, a game might be advertised as free-to-play but in reality it is pay-to-win. Or the gameplay itself is lame. Or there is false advertising (think Evony). And don’t get me started on Hero Wars. Solitaire Cube seems to be no different: a simple search (hint: name the largest subsidiary of Alphabet Inc.) reveals a lot of negative reviews. Without going into detail here is a list of complaints:

  • Player’s score is less than it should be
  • Practice hands are much easier than Real money hands (sound familiar?)
  • Frequently crashes
  • Lousy customer service
  • Don’t know if opponents are humans or bots (or if they are same skill level as you)
  • Can’t review opponent’s video ergo don’t know if he legit won. Don’t even know if they play the same hands.
  • The vigorish is worse than Las Vegas
  • You have to deposit $10 into Paypal account, then they ask you for your location to see if you’re eligible for tournaments (wrong location -> no entry).
  • Fake positive reviews.

 

I’m not sure how many of these complaints are legit. For example, players are more apt to remember the time when the game crashed when they were doing well, but not remember the 10 times the game crashed and they were doing badly. But there are some undisputable facts. If you are betting 25 cents to win 42 cents then the vigorish is 16%, which is worse than Las Vegas. Nobody can argue with the math. And there are things that don’t pass the sniff test, because IMNSHO game developers should not only be doing the right thing but be seen to be doing the right thing. I won’t go into exhaustive detail; I will let the reader draw his own conclusions.

Let’s test this software … or let’s not.

If you read this blog regularly, you will know how to test the Random Number Generator. But I believe it is not worth my time to do the same experiment, mainly because I need to set up a PayPal account. There are other issues, but the PayPal issue alone is enough to turn me off. I leave this as the proverbial exercise for the reader 😊