As all three of you who follow this blog are well aware, I have a bit of a canasta problem. I don't mean my recent problem of losing every hand to DLB, no, a problem that predates that. A problem that began around the family dining table, carted back from somewhere out West on a dare from my Dad, the table, not the problem, and nurtured in many a borrowed dorm room. I have a mild addiction to the game of canasta. Its combination of luck and strategy of braggadocio and humbling retribution. Its symmetry of odd numbers. In Japan, outside of a small group trapped in a house during a typhoon, I have found no one to play canasta with. In comes the iPod. Now, I can play canasta whenever I want.
This brings its own issues however, it isn't the loss of conversation that a real human game brings, although that detracts from the experience, it is the absolute boneheaded way that your partner plays and the fact that their method can't be corrected through personal rebuke.
To be fair, I have noticed the same strategies from human opponents in Internet canasta; the same get the canasta and get out dash to the exit. To me the slowly building deck, the pot of soup that only one person will get to eat, is the fun of the game. Once you meet the challenge of melding and then get that deck, it is your obligation to stretch out the game and milk the other team for everything they have. Not so, says my digital teammate. The real challenge when you get up to melding 120 points is the meld itself. I can't see the logic in being roughly 1,000 points away from a victory, getting the difficult meld, getting a huge deck, having the other team in the position of every discard being a donation to your team fund, but deciding to go out after one canasta. A canasta that doesn't put you over the 5,000 point mark for the win. Now you have to struggle to meld 120 again and have no idea if you will get to pick up the deck.
Maybe it is the rule that you can go out with one canasta, natural or not. I am not a fan of that rule. I say two canastas where one must be natural is the only way to play. It makes for a more strategic game. Maybe it is just flawed programming. My teammate has been known to through a deuce on 6 eights for an unnatural and discard the eight in their hand on the same play. Or two lay down 3 sixes, which the opponent doesn't have, and then discard a Jack, which gives the other side a natural canasta.
Oh, well. That's what happens when you build robot people. Take that science!