Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Review of Sock Wars II

Well, I've been meaning to post for awhile. A long while, in fact. A lot of you may have been wondering why I haven't gotten off of my arse to post. I have been meaning to write about our various adventures several times, but Meg keeps beating me to it (though she may dispute this).

So now that Sock Wars is officially over, I have decided that it is time to review the game. First, I have to say I was as surprised as anyone to see that the game was written up in the Wall Street Journal this week. I was even more surprised to find out that the sock that I knit for my victim was described in the lead of the story!

I think the concept of the game is really fun. I certainly had a lot of fun rushing to finish two pairs of socks before I was taken out. The "scar pattern" that we all had to knit was pleasantly fun and suited to all levels of sock knitters. I have to admit, though, that I'm not used to knitting at such a large gauge (6 st/in). The socks absolutely flew.

My biggest hangup with the game, though, was the slowness of the postal service in comparison to my knit time. I had churned out my first pair of socks in about 3 days, yet it took me almost two weeks to receive the second pair of socks for my next victim. I finished those off in 48 hours, then waited for another two weeks for a pair that eventually just got routed around me, as by that time, I received my socks from my assassin. This aspect of the game ended up being a lot of "hurry up and wait" that I get too much of elsewhere in my life (such as in airports). Also, so much of the game was luck of the draw. There were people who knitted 9 pairs of socks, and they got killed not long after me. As a result, I could have been the game's slowest knitter yet lasted a very long time, or been almost the fastest knitter and been knocked out in the first round. At the end of the game, there were a dozen or so people remaining, but for some reason they couldn't finish the socks for each other. So to finish the game, the first person to send a postcard to the initiator would win. In my opinion, this was awfully anti-climactic.

Also, the pattern itself was very poorly written. Clearly it hadn't been test knitted, because there were several sets of errata. When we tried to ask questions to the mailing list about them, the person who wrote the pattern replied rather snarkily that the pattern wasn't hard and implied that somehow any errata were "all part of the game." I'm sorry, but I think that's a bit unreasonable.

So all in all, it was a good idea, but I think there were some things that were lacking logistically. The game could be improved by taking pictures of the finished socks and e-mailing the picture to the victim as part of the assassination. Also, taking time to test knit the pattern could have saved a lot of frustration from several participants. Will I do it again next year? I'm not sure.

So, without any further ado, I present to you the orange and black socks mentioned in the WSJ:

Here was pair #2:

Spoot decided she wanted to be mailed with the socks, so that she could get away from Angus. We told her that wasn't an option.


David said...

I know what you mean . . . Sock Wars is a really cool idea in theory, but the execution is fraught with problems. When I played last year, my target had signed up twice, so she had two assassins. I finished my first pair of socks in 48 hours, but because my target was expecting socks from someone else, she didn't check her mail for two weeks and I got knocked out in the first round. :-\

Congrats on getting mentioned in the WSJ article!

Eldronius said...

Poor Spoot.

yes, gratz on the WSJ! That is really funny for some reason, haha.

Lanea said...

Interesting, interesting. I was wondering how they would make a game of killer work with socks. Congrats on the WSJ mention.

Anonymous said...

I knit the socks and didn't experience any errors in the pattern.

Also, if you think about the fact that we are all knitting to knock out someone else anywhere from down our block to across the ocean, there's no getting away from the fact we're at the mercy of the postal service.

Too bad that when taking the time to criticize, you didn't take the time to offer possible solutions.

the fiddlin' fool said...

Anonymous, I actually did take the time to offer possible solutions. And I'm glad that the pattern worked out for you.

Too bad when taking the time to criticize, you didn't leave your name or e-mail address.

brbg said...

I too am not sure I will play again.
I knit a pair in 4 days and mailed them out. In the mean time I received a pair of socks that were not knitted according to the pattern. One week after my victim received her socks she said they didn't fit so I was disqualified. She was to return the socks to me according to the mods, but it has been 2 months and I haven't received them. The socks I had received were sent on up the chain to be reknitted for my victim. In the end, I have no socks, my victim will have 2 pair, and she has not sent anything to her victim.

brbg said...

It is a fun concept, and I did ok with the pattern. It was my first pair of socks, so maybe that is why I didn't have problems with the pattern? Or maybe it was a language thing? If I do sign up again, it will be with the expectation of giving but not receiving.

Dawn said...

I for one find your post very thoughtful and balanced. Perhaps that's because I ended the war with very similar feelings. I love the concept, thought the battle was great fun and did myself end up with socks, being killed after taking out 2 myself.

The end was most definitely anti-climactic and I think perhaps contributed to the slowness of the final socks being delivered. If you know you're not going to have to mail off socks to win the final postcard battle,how hard do you really work to get them done and out? I understand the desire to wrap things up, but I don't think I would have joined the ranks so enthusiastically if I knew it wasn't going to be played out.

I was also frustrated by knitting my fingers off to whip out socks as quickly as I could only to find some in the finals had not even finished a single pair. I don't know what a solution to that one is, though with some players thinking of it all as a big swap (which never occurred to me when I was signing up for "war") while others approach it fired up for a heated battle...well, of course there are issues.

IMO, if you're signing up for war, you should be prepared to play, and play hard. And contrary to what some have expressed, I think the expectation of each player having good intentions of following through is not out of line...it's what you are saying you will do when you sign up. Of course things always have a way of coming up at the very most wrong times, but a quick note to those involved (instead of just disappearing)would help tremendously. There were so many places where better communication would have helped...but each player has to take that responsibility on themselves, so again I don't know what the answer is there either.

The whole thing is a huge undertaking and my hope is it continues to be a work in progress, getting better with each new battle. Will I sign up again? Don't know. Depends on what I see changing.

amysue said...

I thought this was a wonderful and balanced post that echoes my feelings about Sock Wars.

What has really saddened me is the attacks I have received because I mentioned on Ravelry and the Yahoo group about my disappointments with how things went. I was careful to acknowledge the hard work of the moderators and Julie but merely expressed my feelings about a swap where I ended up being one of he last 12 standing mostly because no one ever assassinated me and no one ever sent me a second pair of socks to finish. This meant that after "killing" my target a week after the game started I had nothing else to do.

I was mostly disappointed I never got to speed knit more socks to "kill" with, as that was the point of the game, but there ya go!