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Give it a whirl'We call dreidel a game, but it really isn't much of one'

Up your Hanukkah game with this new spin on dreidel

From the makers of the Jewish Wisdom Ball comes Dreidel Revolution, a twist on the holiday classic that introduces skill, speed, and even bluffing for more dynamic gameplay

Yaakov Schwartz is The Times of Israel's deputy Jewish World editor.

A game set of Dreidel Revolution. (Courtesy)
A game set of Dreidel Revolution. (Courtesy)

Rami Genauer has played dreidel every Hanukkah since he was a child, but put off by the predictable outcome and lack of required skill, he thinks it far from the tops. So he’s put a new twist on the traditional holiday game.

This year Genauer is introducing Dreidel Revolution, a holiday pack featuring eight spinoffs that retain the spirit of the original game of chance, revolving around a four-sided top.

“As far as a game-playing dynamic goes, dreidel is a pretty weak game when you think about it,” says Genauer.

The game pack comes with the usual suspects — a set of six dreidels embossed with the Hebrew letters, “nun,” “gimmel,” “hei” or “shin,” on each of their four sides. According to which letter falls face up, the spinner is entitled to take half the pot, the whole thing, do nothing, or put a coin in.

“We call dreidel a game, but it’s not really much of one,” Genauer says.

So Genauer’s version includes uniquely original components, such as eight-sided dreidel-dice, a “shamash” button, letter tokens, play coins, and a dice cup. There are instructions for four all-new dreidel games appropriate for all ages, as well as an additional four games more suitable for older players.

Here’s what you’ll find in a game set of Dreidel Revolution. (Courtesy)

Genauer, a Seattle-born, 39-year-old father of two, has a day job in sports-related data analytics and television production, but this is not his first foray into the world of novelty shtick. Genauer is also the creator of the Jewish Wisdom Ball — a bubby’s take on the classic Magic 8 Ball — as well as the Miracle Menorah (available in combo with Dreidel Revolution), and a game called Screaming Baby Dice.

Rami Genauer, inventor of Dreidel Revolution, in a very old photo. (Courtesy)

Leaning on his past experience, Genauer set out testing over 100 new dreidel games on his friends and family — including his 9-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son — before settling on the eight games included in Dreidel Revolution.

According to the Kickstarter page, “The most prominent of the new components are the patent-pending Eight Crazy Dice. The dice have eight sides (one side for each night!), with two sides dedicated to each of the four traditional dreidel symbols. This gives them 1-in-4 odds of rolling each symbol, making them completely interchangeable with regular dreidels. Dreidel Revolution games use dreidels, dice, or a combination of your choice.”

The game master is also keeping in mind the entire mishpocha for his new holiday game: “Eight Crazy Dice are also an inclusive alternative to standard dreidels, making Hanukkah games accessible to small children, the elderly, or anyone with motor control issues that make spinning a dreidel difficult.”

While the number eight holds a special symbolism on Hanukkah, that wasn’t the only reason why Genauer chose dice with twice the number of sides found on a traditional dreidel.

Stacked dreidels and Eight Crazy Dice from Dreidel Revolution. (Courtesy)

“The four-sided die is not a very good shape,” he says. “Everybody hates the four-sided die. It’s shaped like a pyramid, it doesn’t roll, it’s hard to read, and if you drop it on the floor and step on it, it’s like stepping on a spike. But if you just double the number of symbols, you get an eight-sided die.”

There are other new gaming dynamics as well, such as speed, strategy, stacking skills, and – if you happen to be playing Hanukkah Chutzpah – bluffing.

Since its launch around the recent High Holiday season, Dreidel Revolution has more than doubled its initial $5,000 goal on Kickstarter to meet production minimums, and has racked up hundreds of backers – no mean feat for a niche market like Jewish novelty games.

For buyers in the United States, there’s still time to get the set before Hanukkah. While the game ships to international destinations such as Canada, Israel, the UK, and EU countries, Genauer doesn’t guarantee that it’ll arrive in time to play under the light of this year’s menorah.

“The idea wasn’t to eliminate dreidel, the goal was to improve it so that you could still play dreidel and get the traditional feel of playing a dreidel game on Hanukkah, but you didn’t have to play with the same set of rules that we’ve been playing with for so long, which honestly are pretty unsatisfying from a gaming perspective,” Genauer says.

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