T5: Day Two

Today we’ll start out with a short tour of part of the library people have brought. Luke has set his up on the ledge here. In alphabetical order, of course.

And here’s a list of what I saw played in the house yesterday: Mit List and Tücke, Canyon, Glorious Maximus, Die Sieben Siegel, Voltreffer, 8-Bit Trick,
Fox in the Forest, Double, Pepper, Auf falscher Fährte, Sextet, Investigate & Prosecute, Familiar’s Trouble, Foppen, Voodoo Prince, Let Me Off, Control Nut, Skull King: Das Wurfelspiel, Texas Showdown, Pitch, Eye My Favorite Things, Trick of the Rails, Schnäppchen Jagd, Hexenstich, and Cahoots.

We started out this morning with the recent Japanese reprint of Mit List und Tücke. The gist here is that the highest card played to the trick will choose a certain amount of cards from the trick to take (depending upon player count), and the lowest card will likely get the remainder. You do not need to follow suit, but at most 3 of the 4 suits can be present in the trick. Your score at the end of the round is the product (multiply) of the number of cards you took in two suits, divided by the sum of the number of cards you took in two suits.

I really enjoyed this one! Plenty of room for difficult decisions on what to play. Glad I picked it up.

Much of what I’ll play this weekend are titles that I’ve added to a “Want to Play” list, either electronically or mentally, over the years, but almost certainly can’t recall why or how I heard about it.

Canyon is one of those. The board in Canyon is an elaborate score track, as players advance one space for each trick they take, and if they were correct in their bid, they earn bonus movement. There is also a waterfall of sorts at the end that adds some shenanigans. The game uses a circular track for displaying how many cards are in a hand, starting at 8, going down to 1, and then back up to 8.

We also played with the Grand Canyon expansion that adds some special player powers, such as being able to not follow suit once in a hand.

The game play was fairly routine, and the player powers definitely helped things, but we still had fun.

Up next was another title that I’ve been wanting to play, but can’t remember why: Volltreffer. It is designed by Gunter Burkhardt, one of my favorite trick-taking game designers.

Players start with no cards in hands and 30 points. You know fun things will happen if you start at 30 points, as that is a lot of room to lose or spend points!

Here, the goal is to be the closest to 66 points when the game ends, and it will end when someone is within 4 or 5 of that number. First though, cards are dealt to a face-up market, where cards cost 0, 1, 2, or 4 points.

After each player has purchased 8 cards, some points will be awarded for rummy-type contents (e.g. 3 of a kind, 4 of a kind, 1 of each of the 5 color), as well as the lowest overall rank sum. The players then play a routine trick-taking game, with points being awarded for winning each trick.

This was really interesting! Games where you need to spend points to make points are usually in my wheelhouse.

I can’t remember if I mentioned that there is a prize table, but here are some of the prize table titles.

I really sweated over how to distribute things, initially with some sort of white elephant type exchange, but where items were only contributed by 2 or 3 people, but I eventually settled on a bingo card.

Each square generally has some nuance that a few trick-takers exhibit (e.g. can see the suit on the back of the card), or concepts I’d like to encourage (e.g. teach someone a favorite of yours or play with at least 15 different people), and when you play a game that has that or otherwise meet that condition, you can cross it out. I’m plenty guilty of being cult of the bleeding edge, so I wanted to make sure that I encouraged not that.

I have my Oulipo-centric reasons for thinking this con was a good idea, but it’s been interesting talking to other folks so far about why they enjoy trick-taking games, and why this seems to be going well.

Jonathan mentioned that it’s been so easy to find opponents. I’m working on living my life in a more “Yes, and” way, trying to default further away from “No” or “I’d rather not”, and if you invite people that like trick-taking games, it’s easy to find a game! There isn’t a situation at some cons where somebody says “here’s these games I brought”, and you might not be interested –everybody has been down for anything suggested; wanting to play any of the games currently on a table!

In that spirit, I recommended Double next. I started in the A’s of Luke’s piles and went until I found a game that said it played 6.

Double also uses the circular hand-size track like Canyon, though going from 1 up to 5 and back down to 1. The cards are double sided, and in our game, each card exists twice. There’s a trump and a few super-trump. You bid on how many tricks to take, and earn points for being successful.

It was, um, frustrating. I think there’s a mental trick this game plays on you, as you look at your hand, feel excited about the options and possibilities, but, instead, that’s twice the options to follow-suit, and it yanks away the other half of the card that might have been good. Just a real face-puncher.

Next was Pepper. I’m not going to say much about pepper, but the two sheets below? One is the rules, and one is a following-suit clarification. Guess which one is which.

Like I said, people are up for anything. I suggested we play Let Me Off, one of the winners from @kumagoro_h’s Trick Taking Party and designer @kino211.

Using 5-A of a standard 52-card deck, each player has a hand of 5 cards, as well as sharing a hand of 5 cards with each neighbor. Points will be awarded for each trick taken, but only if you have run out of cards in each of your 3 hands, with one player running out of cards being the end of the round condition. Points will be lost for cards left in hand, and A’s taken (-1/3/6/10).

The other twist is that if you can’t follow suit, you don’t play.

I wasn’t sure what to think going in, but I may love it. It may be deals I had, but I thought it allowed for some creative play, but it also may have just been exploring a puzzle the first time as you learn the different algorithms to approach it.

One thing I liked that HeavyCon did was there was a behind-the-scenes Google Spreadsheet where folks could list games they would like to request an attendee bring, or folks could list what they were bringing. I didn’t request it, as I was going to borrow it from Rand but failed to, was Eye My Favorite Things.

Here, in what is probably more of a get-to-know-your-friends game than a trick-taking game, you won’t see the ranks on your cards. Rather, you have first written a category on a card (e.g. favorite pizza toppings), and passed it to a neighbor. They then write on the dry erase cards 6 toppings – 5 favorites and 1 they dislike. A card then slips in a sleeve behind that with rankings 1-5 for your 5 favorites, and a 0 for the one you dislike.

Players then play a, uh, standard trick-taking game (without suits), though the 0 acts as the Potato Man. Once cards are played, the actual numbers are revealed.

I liked this much more than I thought I would. Maybe we are just riding the high of the day, and maybe it was late at night, and maybe it was the tiny table we fit 6 people around, and maybe it was that Evan *drew* his the first round rather than writing them out, and maybe it was the company, but we had a lot of fun.

Continuing my alphabetical search for a 6 player game, I grabbed Hexenstich from Luke’s stack. This one I didn’t know at all, but I trust Luke, who then told me he bought it from Joe, and then I knew I was at home.

Here, essentially, each card has 2 suits, but they are different. Cards have a color and a symbol on them. You must follow the color of the lead card. But the winning card is the high card of the symbol-suit which was most played.

The winning player collects all of the cards, with cards of one symbol being worth no points, one being worth face value, and one being worth negative face value.

It took me a round or two to get ahold of this, but it was pretty interesting. It may be one of those trick-takers that I think is too clever for itself, and is another example of how far card graphic design as come, as we had several examples today where suits or ranks were very difficult to see.

It was another good day, though I couldn’t sleep last night. The day or days before conventions I usually have trouble sleeping in kid-before-christmas excitement, but this was the opposite. This was I-had-such-a-good-day happiness. Thanks to everybody for coming and I can’t believe there are 2.5 more days.

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4 Responses to T5: Day Two

  1. Martin Griffiths says:

    This sounds incredible! I would love to do something similar in the UK.

  2. dbvanderark says:

    What a great idea for a gaming getaway. There are probably thousands of trick-takers to choose from. Anyone see a copy of Cosmic Eidex laying around? Was Sticht? Flaschenteufel? Mu? How about traditional games, like Doppelkopf, Skat, Schnapsen, or even Pinochle?

    • xitoliv says:

      Yes on all of those. I made “play a public domain game” one of the bingo card spots to encourage things like Pinochle, and we have had Bridge and Cribbage played. For Mu and Flaschenteufel there are several copies and several editions around.

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