What Is 4 Way Play
4 Way Play is a multiple disc game that blends quality handling, throwing, and catching. It asks dog and handler to play to all points on the field, highlighting flatwork and team movement as well as precise and thoughtful throwing. It’s a great game for learning how to move a dog around the field.
There are 4 throwing zones named by the point value that a team earns if the dog makes a catch in them. One point for zone 1, two points for zone 2, etc. The four scoring zones are not hard to hit, so the precision throwing doesn’t come into play on making the catch in the zone, it comes into play after the catch on the landing where the dog has to move, immediately, in the appropriate direction. Well thrown floating discs are almost a must.
All 4 zones must be hit with a completed catch before throwing back to one of them. Completed catches in all 4 zones is a quad, which is 10 points. Once a quad is cleared, all of the zones are back in play and the seeking of points continues by throwing to each zone.
The goal is to rack up as many points and achievements as possible within a round. People are clearing 3 quads in a round right now, a Triple Quad, and there is a bounty for the first Tetra Quad. Here’s a map of the Achievements and Ups in 4 Way play level 1 that really lays out what the UpDog Challenge is all about.
How Do You Play It?
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]here are many ways to be successful with 4 way play, much of it depending on the dog and handler’s style, so I’ll just lay out how I have played it in the two rounds Loot and I have played and will share a couple of ideas and other techniques I’ve seen used. I’m far from an expert, but it’s a new game, so…
The game starts with dog and handler in the Sweet Spot, the zone in the center of the field that is featured so prominently in most UpDog games. Time starts with a recorded,”Ready, Set, Go.” and dog and handler go to work hitting zones and clearing quads. It sounds real easy, but it’s a bit tougher than it looks. With only 4 discs and a fairly large field, the Sweet Spot is 10 yards square alone, disc management is key.
Many teams attempted a zig zag pattern, I did not do this in either of my rounds, although I surely will next time. There were 2 zig zags available, the traditional zig zag, out to the left and out to the right, and a zig zag that crosses on the handler, from front to back. The traditional zig zag has the dog catching in zones 1 and 2 and then pivots around to hit 3 and then 4, or something like that. The zig zag that crosses the handler hits from corner to corner, so 4 and 2 then 1 and 3.
I think that is probably the best bet. I look forward to playing again so I can gain more experience and choose the best strategy for Loot and I to be successful. Maybe I’ll share my plans before the next event…
The Pendulum works. The dueling Arounds work quite well. The dog makes the catch in zone 4 and drives back to the handler dropping the disc on the way in, leaving the disc in or close to the Sweet Spot. Handler throws to zone 3, picks up the disc and then flips the field to address zones 1 and 2. Flipping the field is a bit easier than it sounds though. The devil is in the details, I blew it while trying to flip the field using this strategy with Loot in New Hampshire earlier this year. I think we cleared 1 quad and had 17 points.
Around the World
I tried an Around the World with Loot on New Years Day at the UpDog Challenge in Spring Hill, FL. It didn’t go so well. I expected to have 4 discs to pick up after our quad, but I didn’t budget in the distance and time for a miss (or two). I got two catches and then discs were everywhere and I scrambled around.
Both rounds were quite challenging and tons of fun, despite the failures of strategy and execution. I think that’s a pretty cool aspect to the UpDog games, they are challenging and require strategy. Your strategy, planned and executed.
Catch of the Day – Hat Tip to Abby Cline
I got a Catch of the Day Achievement, a cool award for the best catch of the day. It must have been a real yawner of a disc dog contest because I got the Catch of the Day achievement for catching my pants as they were falling off, twice, without missing more than a beat, during my round with Loot.
See, I was rushed… some people scratched and I was chatting with Gary Duke, so Loot and I were unprepared. The key part of that lack of preparation was my belt, 20 years old, abused and hanging together by a thread, that I left in the sprinter when rushing to get Loot to the field. If it were not the holiday season, I probably would have been OK…
So, yup, got a super spiffy achievement for catching my pants while jamming.
Gotta love UpDog…