Waterworks has become somewhat of a classic card game, and it’s one that our family of persons with mixed abilities can play and have fun together.
You need quite a large playing area for this game. The floor works really well, or plenty of table space.
Each person receives a card with a faucet handle, and a spigot end with the water coming out. The object of the game is to connect the piping in between. The number of people playing determines how many cards you must play before you can make the connection. Also, the cards can only be played in the correct orientation: no long sides of cards against short sides of cards.
In addition, each person receives two little wrenches for emergency fixes to leaky pipes.
The rest of the deck of cards has various pipe sections: straight pipes (both up-and-down and crosswise), elbows in each direction, T fittings, and end caps. Each of these kinds of pipe comes in both lead and copper. Lead pipe cards may also have leaks (copper cannot leak).
You are dealt five cards to begin the game. Draw at the beginning of your turn and discard at the end. To play you may add a good pipe to your own waterworks, or place a leak on someone else’s. If someone places a leak on you it must be fixed before you can build any further. Fix a leak by placing a card of the same shape pipe over the leak, or you may use one of your wrenches as your turn to fix it without the correct card.
Obviously it is more fun with more people (the box says 2 to 4 players, but you could add more players if you had more than one deck of the cards). It can get quite intense with the rivalry to “leak” someone because they got you, or to try to slow someone down who has nearly enough pipes played to go out.
The leaky T is the worst card because not only do you have to fix the leak, but you have to cap one end of the pipe.
The waterworks end up snaking all over the place because except for the first connection to the handle and the final connection to the spigot there is no rule for what direction you have to build. You get some crazy-looking plumbing!
It says ages 7 and up, but I suspect that a sharp 5-year old could play it, and certainly could team up with an older player and have fun laying out the cards.
It is a challenge for us to find games that our family can play together. Although everyone is now adult, we have a wide range of mental abilities. Word games are completely out, as are games with complex strategies. We find that there is enough combination of chance with a bit of strategy in this game, combined with the entertaining visual component, that we can enjoy a few hands of this each holiday season when we are all together. It is not too boring for some of us, and not too difficult (and thus frustrating rather than fun) for others.