Knightmare Lexicon - A Knightmare Encyclopædia

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1. Play Your Cards Right
From TES issue 70 (July 2011)

Series 7/8. Level 2/3.
 [Related Image] This is a very nice, atmospheric level three challenge. Starkly combining the cutting edge, VR-begotten technomagical world of Goth with shades of the early series (which featured several references to and challenges based on playing cards), this was an aptly tricky test for any team bright enough to reach level three, and a ruthless exploiter of any shortcomings in the advisors’ brainwork and/or teamwork that had yet to come to light. Simon’s team and Alex’s team both discovered this to their cost, and the fact that this challenge killed the first two teams to attempt it always makes it seem that significant bit harder and more ruthless.

My one criticism of Play Your Cards Right is that there was no variety in the card sequences. Once you’d seen one team’s attempt at the challenge, you’d seen them all, which certainly sucked some of the tension out of the whole situation by the time Barry got round to completing it. The fact that the sequence was the same every time did not make the challenge any easier for the teams, of course, as they (unlike us) had not seen the preceding episodes of series 7 when they attempted it, so there was always that element of doubt that the next team to be faced with the Cards would know what to do, and I certainly don’t think the whole process of attempting the challenge is at all obvious the first time you see it, despite what Treguard may think: ”Boys, you were looking for something devious, when all you had to do… is follow suit.” – Treguard.

Inevitably, a seeing-eye spell or potion would be employed here to allow the dungeoneer to see themselves and the array of cards, which was actually completely unnecessary and not very nice to see, very much like all the other seeing-eye spell appearances! The Cards appeared once in series 8 (this time on level two, which Goth had become by this stage) and this was actually the only occasion during the final series when sight magic was used. Disappointingly, even at this stage, the puzzle still had the same card sequence, yet Nathan’s advisors still encountered problems when the Hearts ran out, so clearly this team hadn’t been watching series 7 on video even half as much as I had!

Provided By: Eyeshield, 2011-07-03 07:36:08
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2. Play Your Cards Right
From TES issue 9 (December 1997)


If you cast your minds back to one of the earlier issues of The Eye Shield, you may recall the review of the near-impossible challenge that was the Block and Tackle. Unfortunately for dungeoneers, it seemed that the Lord Fear had attempted a similar fatal challenge with the Cards of Chaos. However, as it was in level three, not too many teams encountered this challenge, and eventually, it was conquered !

The basic idea of the Cards of Chaos was to follow a pattern of playing cards along a wall. By correctly selecting the next card in the pattern, the dungeoneer could summon another section of pathway, which would eventually lead to the doorway opposite. An incorrect guess would cause the pathway to fall away beneath the dungeoneer, and I don’t need to tell you what that would mean !

The Cards of Chaos already appears a rather tricky challenge, looking at the description above, but the general circumstances surrounding the challenge made for genuine tension and excitement. Based as it was in level three, this challenge was unusual in that it took several minutes to solve, and was very slow paced. After the drama and scares throughout level three, with goblins in pursuit and risk of death on every corner, the team would suddenly have to stay cool and calm to solve this most tricky of challenges.

This was often enough of a stumbling block for some teams, as they found it difficult to think clearly if this chamber followed on from something particularly heart-stopping !

Looking at the challenge in more detail, the Cards of Chaos offered a very difficult card puzzle indeed. To Knightmare viewers, the puzzle may seem quite simple with hindsight, but to the actual teams taking part, this puzzle was completely new to them. Be honest - did you know what to do the first time you watched ? I’ll happily admit to having no idea !

To start, the team were given one card, which was followed by two further cards. The team had to decide which of the two cards should follow on from the starting card, in order to summon the next part of the pathway across the chasm ahead. The method of choosing was based on pairing "like" cards. This could be choosing a red card to match a red card, or perhaps an Ace to match an Ace. After seeing this puzzle a few times, it became easy to spot which cards fitted the sequence.
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In some ways, this could be seen as a criticism of the puzzle, as it eventually became clear to regular viewers, although the excitement still remained as we watched to see if the team could pick up on it ! Another minor criticism lies in the final pair of cards in the challenge. Only two teams made it as far as the final pair, and each selected a different final card, yet both got through, and went on to win ! Something was unfair about that, surely ! Julie’s winning team appeared to choose correctly by following suit, yet Barry chose the Joker ahead of following suit, on the basis of it being a "wild card". Which was right ? Answers on a postcard !

However, these are just minor complaints, in what was a brilliantly devious puzzle.

In terms of fairness to the dungeoneer, the puzzle was not too difficult to grasp, although as I mentioned earlier, if a team wasn’t able to stay totally calm and collected, they had little chance of success. A good example would be the first team that encountered this puzzle, which was Simon’s team who were the first of series seven.

As soon as they grasped the basic requirements of the puzzle, which was to summon a pathway by guessing the pattern of the cards. However, as often happens with younger teams, this soon degenerated into a whirl of shouted instructions, and confused orders from all three guiders. Poor old Simon must have been extremely worried ! Yet, despite these problems, in the end the team simply chose the wrong card and plunged to a nasty end.

Alternatively, Julie’s winning team [Team 6 of Series 7] later in the series gave a textbook example of conquering the Cards of Chaos ! Simple clear instructions from the guiders, and careful thought before each card selection. Even goblins couldn’t put them off !

In my opinion, this challenge was one of Knightmare’s real classics. The solution was difficult, but only required common sense. The positioning within level three was ideal, because the team would almost definitely be nervous and excited by that point - and this was the ultimate test of how well they could handle those nerves ! Definitely one of Knightmare’s better challenges.

DIFFICULTY : 7 Tricky to grasp, but by no means impossible to any team
KILLER INSTINCT : 8 50% success rate, which is far better than most !
GORE FACTOR : 3 We can only imagine the horrors that lie within the chasm !
FAIRNESS : 7 Treguard always ensured the team had the basic idea.

Written by and submitted with the kind permission of Paul McIntosh.

Provided By: Eyeshield, 2007-12-11 20:27:21
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