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GAMES : Cow Tippers Milk the Fun One Shake at a Time

March 04, 1993|MARIA D. LASO | Maria D. Laso is a member of The Times Orange County Edition staff. and

Many people think of cows as simple creatures. Tip the Cows! is also simple--one of those nearly perfect games. You don't need much room or many friends to play. It doesn't cost much, as games go (about $9).

No skills are required (you can roll dice, can't you?), so it's not a given that your kids or your competitive brother-in-law will beat you. And--a big plus--the rules are really easy for adults to understand. (Everyone knows that game-rule comprehension is inversely proportionate to age.)

Decipher Inc. art director Dan Burns created the game in 1989 based on the fraternity prank of cow tipping, which was supposedly begun at his alma mater, the University of Connecticut in Storrs, a land-grant university, or "cow college." (For the uninitiated, cow tipping is the practice of pushing over a sleeping cow.)

Billed as "the game that's udder madness," it is also long on a sense of humor; reading the box and the instructions is half the fun.

Says Clarabell the spokescow for Cows Under Duress, or CUD: "Not since being blamed for the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 has cow protest been so great. Cowalitions across the cowntry have staged less-destructive demoo-nstrations such as meadow muffin tossing tournaments."

The game is intended, so says Clarabell, to discourage real cow tipping. The object of the game is to get as many points as possible in seven rounds, by rolling the two plastic cows (like dice; this is known as the Milk Shake). How the cows land determines how many points you get, such as: Siders (cow lands on side), Udders Up (on back), Hoofers (on all fours), Grazers (face down, uh, er, flank up).

Included: cattle prod (pencil), instructions, cowculator (score sheet; that makes the scorekeeper the accowntant), a cow pasture for tipping (game board) and two little Holsteins sporting sunglasses.

(Cindy Thornburg, vice president of sales and marketing for Decipher, says it took a lot of engineering skill to create cows that stand up to tipping, and all the scoring is based on the mathematical probability of how the cows are most likely to land.)

The rules are such that anyone can catch up or go ahead at any time, even in the final round. For example, a cow face touching the other cow costs you all points for that turn; this is called Spilt Milk. On the other hoof, rolling two Holy Cows (this is known as Sacred Cows) automatically wins the game.

Cowpokes age 6 and up--even vegetarians--can play, making it suitable family entertainment. So hold a cattle drive and get tipping.

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