The object of Max 4 is to get a set of four of one colour of one of each. The player with the most points when no more sets can be made is the winner.(Adam Louis/Observer)

The object of Max 4 is to get a set of four of one colour of one of each. The player with the most points when no more sets can be made is the winner.(Adam Louis/Observer)

Harrison students get competitive over locally made card game

Max 4 is a hit with students at Harrison Hot Springs Elementary

A new, locally-grown game gripped the Grade 5 and 6 students at Harrison Hot Springs Elementary last week.

Artist and game inventor Max Newhouse reintroduced his card game “Max 4” to the students in a special presentation on Monday, Dec. 12. He first tested the game at HHSE two years ago before taking it back to the proverbial drawing board to perfect it.

Newhouse originally created Max 4 to honour the 20th anniversary of Nunavut joining Canada, intending to send a deck to every classroom in the territory. However, he missed his original deadline of April 1, 2019, as there were still changes he wanted to make to the game.

To win Max 4, players must collect full sets of cards of each colour or a full set of one colour. The game continues until no new sets of four can be made. The players tally up the points on each card and subtract any points remaining in their hand; the one who scored the highest wins the game.

It didn’t take long for students to understand the game and it quickly got competitive over the course of the afternoon. Students learned that Max 4 is simple to play but can be very difficult to master.

RELATED: VIDEO: B.C. artist celebrates Nunavut’s anniversary with a deck of cards

“Oh, that’s a lucky hand,” Newhouse said as he observed one of the games. “You’re going to have to start betting money.”

“I can’t! I’m broke!” the student replied.

The last time the game was played at the school, Newhouse noted the teacher kept losing.

Max 4 was conceived over the course of several months, inspired by Nunavut, Newhouse’s experience painting the Canadian flag and his own artist. The object of the original Max 4 was to match four card colours – bright green for spring, dark green for summer, brown for autumn and white for winter – to get four of a kind. In that way, it’s similar to the ancient Chinese game known as “The Game of Leaves.”

He took the game to local students two years ago. They offered constructive criticism and suggestions which Newhouse took to heart. He worked on the game and returned last week to test it with a group of students once more.

At the suggestion of the students from the 2019 test, the game’s art now features each province and territory on the cards, complete with the flag, capital and the date it joined the Confederation. There are numbers at two corners of each card, giving the cards a point value ranging from one to 13, ranked by province or territory with Ontario cards having the lowest value and Nunavut having the highest; the value is based on when they joined the Confederation. There are also four season or “wild” cards in the deck to keep things even more interesting.

Newhouse currently has a few prototype decks as Max 4 is not yet available for broader sale. Newhouse has also made a U.S.A. version, featuring the states and territories of the U.S.

If the enthusiasm and excitement from local students is any indication, it may be hitting store shelves sooner than you might think – and it all started right here in Agassiz-Harrison.

– With Files from Grace Kennedy

Harrison Hot Springs

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