Design Contest Entries: Traditional Card Games for Two Players
Sean Ross
Canada
North Vancouver
British Columbia
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About a month ago I earned some geek gold for helping classify games that belong to the Traditional Card Games family. I decided to use it to hold a little contest and have people design even more of the same type of game but with a focus on making the games playable with two. The deadline for posting new game designs (Saturday, Aug. 1st) has passed and there are now 29 official entries.

There will be two rounds of voting in the competition. The first round will begin on Saturday, Aug. 15th. That one will be a nomination ballot where people will select the games they feel should move on to the next voting round (on Saturday, Aug. 22nd). Only 5 games will move on to that round, which will run until Saturday, Aug. 29th. But, in the end, only 3 games will be awarded prizes:
1st Prize: 120.00
2nd Prize: 60.00
3rd Prize: 20.00


To help "get out the vote", I'll use this geeklist to give folks a quick introduction to each of the entries. My hope is to help entice people to check out the rules for some of the games - perhaps even play a few and (best of all) provide feedback to the designers. In the descriptions for each contest entry I'll include a link to that entry's rules but you can also find the rules for all of the contest entries in a single PDF, here.


Thanks to all of the contestants for their contributions. Cheers, and good luck!

Update (20100820): Went back and re-ordered geeklist items by the associated game's order of finish in the contest.
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1. Board Game: Time Gradient [Average Rating:6.60 Unranked]
Sean Ross
Canada
North Vancouver
British Columbia
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Time Gradient
BY STEPHEN TAVENER


Time Gradient is the first of five entries by this designer. It is a programmed action/hand management game themed around two civilizations competing to lock down certain events in their shared timeline to their own society's advantage. Players send "agents" into the past with a stack of instructions. To send the agents back in time, the cost in energy must be paid by discarding cards in hand; the further back in time you send the agent, the higher the cost in cards. Once established in the past, the agents perform their instructions, trying to influence events at their current location and/or in the near future. Rival agents may arrive at the same location with their own agendas, so you must be prepared for possible assassination attempts against your own agent in the field. If your agents are able to establish a number of points of influence at a given event in time, that event becomes locked in favour of their society. If you manage to lock down 5 such events, you win the game.

A fully themed version of the game, with artwork by Orlando Ramirez, is currently under development.

Stephen Tavener
United Kingdom
London
England
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2. Board Game: The Spoils [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:2450] [Average Rating:6.97 Unranked]
Sean Ross
Canada
North Vancouver
British Columbia
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Spoils
BY STEEN BANG-MADSEN


Spoils is a plain trick game played with partially hidden and partially revealed hands. It has a somewhat unusual scoring system (for a trick taking game). Tricks are played in order to claim cards from a separate spoils deck. To claim the spoil card you must win 3 or more tricks and lead your opponent by two tricks. Or you can claim the spoils if your opponent runs out of cards to play. In any case, the object is to collect two court cards in a suit and the first to do this for a majority of suits will win the game. However, if there's a tie, then the tie breaker is decided by comparing the amount of spoils collected in the suit where each player has collected the least (similar to Tigris & Euphrates). Court cards are worth zero and spot cards are worth their value for this calculation.

Steen Bang-Madsen
Denmark
Taastrup
DK
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3. Board Game: Sherwood Showdown [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:7412]
Sean Ross
Canada
North Vancouver
British Columbia
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Sherwood Showdown
BY ROBERTA TAYLOR


Sherwood Showdown is themed around a competition between two sets of highwaymen trying to rob travelers in order to gain the most amount of gold. Essentially, though, its an auction game using a deck of playing Tarot cards. The trump suit (or Major Arcana) represent the travelers and each round a new one wanders into the forest and risks being robbed. Each trump has a value (from 1 to 21, with the Fool being worth -5). This number represent the amount of gold each traveller is carrying. The "auction" resembles a beating game where each player must play a card equal to or higher than the first card they played and have the sum of the cards they've played be greater than or equal to their opponent's pile. If your opponent passes and your pile's sum is higher than theirs, you collect the traveller. If the sum's are equal, the traveller escapes and no-one claims the prize. During the card play, player's can "sweeten the pot" by adding face cards (or ransoms) from their hands down onto the traveller being contested. This can help make even low valued travelers a lucrative investment for your cards.

Roberta Taylor
Canada
Edmonton
Alberta
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4. Board Game: Box of Spiders [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
Sean Ross
Canada
North Vancouver
British Columbia
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Box of Spiders
BY STEPHEN TAVENER


Box of Spiders is an abstract strategy game. All 54 cards (including two Jokers) are dealt into a 6x9 grid. One player is Red, the other is Black. On your turn you must move a spider (a number card in your colour) orthogonally (in one direction) and make a capture; or you can pass. Any face card or Joker are flies which can be captured by any spider. Enemy spiders can only be captured by spiders of equal or greater value. The game ends after a turn where both players have passed. You score 1 point for each of your spiders remaining on the board, plus 1 point for each card you've captured. Most points wins.

Stephen Tavener
United Kingdom
London
England
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5. Board Game: Luring Royalty [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
Sean Ross
Canada
North Vancouver
British Columbia
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Luring Royalty
BY BRAD NORDENG


I'd classify Luring Royalty as a fishing game but with a unique capturing mechanism. In most fishing games, you capture cards from a central pool by playing a card whose sum equals the value of the card (or cards) to be captured. Here, you decide which cards you wish to capture, and the cost for capturing the card (or cards) is 2*(the number of cards to its right). Moreover, the capturing cards value can be equal or greater than the capturing value of the cards in the pool. And, while most fishing games have a single pool of cards to capture from, this game has three. Another unique aspect to the game is that players are not dealt a starting hand of cards. Instead, one of your options on a turn is to take the rightmost card from one of the pools and add it to your hand (for free). In the end, the object of the game is collect spot cards in your suit but also Jacks, Queens, Kings, and Jokers (which are all worth more, and the suit doesn't matter) - with a special bonus for collecting Kings and Queens in the same suit.

Brad N
United States
Madison
Wisconsin
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6. Board Game: Golem [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:8287]
Sean Ross
Canada
North Vancouver
British Columbia
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GOLEM: Level Eight Wars
BY GARY HUDDERS


GOLEM: Level Eight Wars is a combat game themed around two rival inventors competing to build golems for the government, to slow the other's progress, they'll occasionally send a golem (or golems) to the other inventors lab to "deactivate" the other's golem(s). In this game, a golem is represented by Poker hands and the "Level Eight" in the game's title refers to 8 different levels of Poker hand available: from Pairs at Level One to Straight Flushes at Level Eight. The object of the game is to deplete your opponent's draw deck. Player's build up their golems one component(card) at a time, then send them off to knock components off their rival's golems. More than one golem can be involved in a fight but a player may have at most 5 active golems at a time (the number of inactive golems is unrestricted).

Gary Hudders
United States
Montana
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7. Board Game: Traditional Card Games [Average Rating:6.51 Overall Rank:2370]
Sean Ross
Canada
North Vancouver
British Columbia
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Kingsguard
BY MATTHEW SILVERTHORN


Kingsquard is the first of several combat game entries to the contest. The game has similarities to Netrunner or Hera and Zeus, but it is simpler than either of those games. Each player has all of the cards in two suits. Their Kings are placed face up on the table and then 12 cards (6 for each King) are selected to be placed face down in front of the Kings, forming line of guards. The object of the game is to be the first to eliminate the defenses of your opponent's two Kings. This is done by playing cards from your hand to attack the head of the King's gauntlet of guards. Your card must be within 1 rank of the guard's rank in order to prevail - if it is an exact match, you get to attack again immediately.

From the author: This is my first ever game design, so I'm really interested to know what people think. Suggestions are welcome (although, those should probably be given at the close of the contest to ensure fairness). Be honest; you won't hurt my feelings. I'm very aware that I'm merely an amateur, but I'm always willing to learn.

Matthew Silverthorn
United States
Leesburg
Virginia
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8. Board Game: Odds And Evens [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Sean Ross
Canada
North Vancouver
British Columbia
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Even More Odd
BY DAN KEITH


"Even More Odd" is an unusual adding game. Cards are played to a central overlapping spread or pile of cards; the object of one player is to keep the sum of the cards even; the other player tries to keep the sum odd (hence the name). The tricky thing with this game is that the face cards, when added to the pile, cancel out the values of any spot cards that share it's suit, reducing the total sum of the pile. But "if a face-card is played and any face-cards of lesser value are in affect the lesser value face-cards are discarded and all effects are removed [; if] a lesser face-card is played after a greater face-card ALL take effect". This can lead to some wild swings in the total value of the pile. If a player cannot or does not wish to play, the other player wins that hand. Player's fill their hands back up from their own personal draw decks and continue playing hands until one player has emptied their deck and played all of their cards. They score for the cards still left in the other players pile (divided by the hand size, which is 7) plus any hands they've won. The player who scores the most hands won will win the game.

Dan Keith
United States
Umatilla
Florida
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9. Board Game: Scorpion [Average Rating:5.46 Overall Rank:11229]
Sean Ross
Canada
North Vancouver
British Columbia
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Scorpion's Tail
BY ANTHONY FRIEDMAN


Scorpion's Tail is a beating game. The object of the game is to be the first player to run out of cards. Cards are played to a spiraling layout of overlapping discards where each card laid must be lower than the last (in most beating games, they would have to be higher). If you cannot play, you must draw a card. This continues until someone plays an Ace (the stinger). The next player is forced to pickup the entire discard tail unless they play a Joker; in which case the person who played the stinger gets stung instead.

Anthony Friedman
United States
Long Beach
California
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10. Board Game: Road Rage: A card game [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Sean Ross
Canada
North Vancouver
British Columbia
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Road Rage
BY BILL KNIGHT


From the game's author:
A card game simulating drivers in an apocalyptic future; where raiders and bandits roam the land, taking what they want by sheer force or through brute intimidation. The players are wanderers; drivers of cars that have been modified to help them endure the perils “out there” as they travel the highways between fortified villages and settlements.

Think Mad Max or Road Warrior and you'll get the idea...

Bill
United States
Orlando
Florida
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11. Board Game: Trippples [Average Rating:5.71 Overall Rank:9322]
Sean Ross
Canada
North Vancouver
British Columbia
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Tripps
BY CRAIG PHILLIPS


I was hoping to classify each of the entries into the traditional card game groupings defined at pagat.com, but I stumbled on doing so straight out of the gates. Craig describes his game, Tripps, as trying "to combine a sense of trick-taking with a counting game like Cribbage". I'm not sure I'd classify Tripps as either a trick-taking or adding game; it might best be classified as a commerce game but even that might be a stretch. Like the commerce games,Kemps or Schwimmen**(31), Tripps involves players exchanging cards from their hands with a central pool of cards on the table. But, unlike the other two games, Tripps isn't about improving your own hand through this process, it's about improving (in a way) the "hands" in the pool.

The game is played over four rounds and in each round a number of cards are dealt face-down into small groups on the table. The object in each round is to capture the groups of cards. You do this by turning over cards in the group or exchanging face-up cards with it, until the entire group is face up; depending on which round you're playing, the sum of the face-up cards must be divisible by a certain number in order to be captured. In the first round, the sum of a face-up group must be divisible by 3 to be captured; in the second round it must be divisible by 4; and so on. Each round the divisor grows by one; the number of cards in each group does the same as does the number of points awarded for capturing a group; the number of groups, however, reduces by one each round. Four rounds is considered a "series" and the players agree beforehand how many series they wish to play. The author suggests 3 as a good number.

** Schwimmen is similar to Blitz, in that the goal is to achieve a hand whose sum is 31, the only real difference between the two is from where you draw and discard replacement cards - in Schwimmen it's from a central pool, in Blitz it's from a draw and discard pile.

Craig Phillips
United States
Quincy
Illinois
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12. Board Game: A Knight's Tale [Average Rating:5.67 Unranked]
Sean Ross
Canada
North Vancouver
British Columbia
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The Knights' Tales of Honor
BY KONRAD ANFT


This entry is also a combat game, similar to Kingsguard (above). Here, each player must defend their King and their Queen by placing a column of knights before them: 3 knights guard the King, 2 knights guard the Queen. Each knight is paired with a Heart card to indicate their level of health. To overcome a knight in combat, the total value of cards played by an attacker must be greater than or equal to that knights health, and the total value of all knights played (by both sides) must be an odd value (for Player One)) or an even value (for Player Two). The trick is the attacking player must pay each knight sent into combat by pairing them with a treasure (Diamond) card while the defender can play his knights at no cost - the winner of the battle keeps the treasure. Why is that important? Well, as you might expect, the game can be won by killing the other player's King (but first you'll have to get through his knights and perhaps the Prince (Jack) who may be prepared to assume his father's throne), it can also be won by kidnapping the Queen and successfully returning her to your domain, or it can be won by collecting enough treasure to bribe a Dragon into taking care of the other player's kingdom for you. Toasty....

Konrad Anft
Germany
Berlin
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13. Board Game: Poker [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:815]
Sean Ross
Canada
North Vancouver
British Columbia
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Fireplace Poker
BY PUNAINEN NÖRTTI


From the game's author:
Fireplace Poker is a two-player card game that simulates the dynamics of tending fire. The game uses one standard deck of 52 playing-cards plus two Jokers. It combines features of Poker, Rummy and War.

Player's draw cards from a draw deck and meld 5-card Poker hands (called coals) onto the table (called the fireplace). It is possible to steal (or poke) cards away from your opponent's melds and into your own, if the meld you play is higher than the other. Play continues with new coals being formed and older ones broken up and dragged into newly formed ones until one player is unable or unwilling to form a new piece of coal. This player loses the round (or heat) and the other player scores points (called sparkles) equal to the difference between the number of his coals and the loser's. The game ends after someone has scored 10 or more.

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14. Board Game: Leave Nothing Behind [Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
Sean Ross
Canada
North Vancouver
British Columbia
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Leave Nothing Behind
BY STEPHEN TAVENER


Leave Nothing Behind is a kind of set collection, pseudo-racing game hybrid (I say pseudo because you're not actually trying to reach a destination, rather you're trying to collect certain cards, before your opponent). From the rules:
Players are privateers. Each player gets a ship (Ace of a suit). That suit is their home colour. Ports of that colour are friendly, and cannot be attacked. The other suit of the same colour is an allied colour. Ports of that suit can be attacked, and score face value. Cards of the opposing colour are enemy cards, and score double value.
Players sail their ships around a 6x8 sea of cards, visiting ports (spot cards), collecting treasure, and fighting off other pirates (er, privateers). Court cards represent map fragments. The score for these is the number of fragments collected squared, so they will be highly sought after. In fact, you can attack the other player's ship in order to get them (or any other unstashed booty (face up cards) the other person has collected). On their turn, players draw a hand of 6 cards from a movement deck. they split these into two 3 card hands. The hands determine player movement as well as combat strength for plundering ports. The game ends when one player has no legal moves remaining or when only one ship remains afloat. arrrh


Stephen Tavener
United Kingdom
London
England
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15. Board Game: Officers and Sepoys [Average Rating:5.50 Unranked]
Sean Ross
Canada
North Vancouver
British Columbia
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Officers' Battle
BY JON IVAR TØNNESEN


Officer's Battle is a combat game. Each player has their own deck which they split into two draw decks: one containing all of the Jacks, Queens, and Kings (the officer deck) and the other containing the spot cards (I suppose you could call this the troop deck). Battles are waged within the formation pictured to the left for this geeklist item. Each player will have 3 frontline officers (one on each flank and in the center) plus officers waiting behind in support. The game ends when one player has lost all of his officers, or when both players have emptied their own deck, passed from drawing from the discard pile and passed in the action phase (all in the same turn). When this happens, players score 5 points for each of their own officers still alive plus 1 point for each unused card in their opponent's hand.


Jon Ivar T.
Norway
Ålesund
Møre og Romsdal
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16. Board Game: Full Tilt [Average Rating:5.67 Unranked]
Sean Ross
Canada
North Vancouver
British Columbia
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The Tiltyard
BY KEN MAHER


The Tiltyard is a sort of multi-round trick taking game, somewhat like a cross between the Sedma Group and a beating game. The game is themed around jousting events (the lance, the axe, and the sword) so there are three rounds with two "passes" each. One player leads a card and the other must play a higher card of the same colour, or a matching card of the opposite colour, or pass. If they play a card, then the trick continues and the other player faces the same three options. This continues until someone passes, the other player captures all of the cards played to the trick. At the start of the game, each player chooses 3 Royal Favours (court cards or Aces). These cards can be activated at the beginning of a round to impart a special ability to the owner (for instance, a Jack adds +1 to the value of all cards of its colour). They also determine which cards will be used for scoring your captured tricks: only cards of the majority colour within the 3 Royal Favours are counted.

Ken Maher
Canada
Collingwood
Ontario
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17. Board Game: Construction Whist [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Sean Ross
Canada
North Vancouver
British Columbia
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Construction Whist
BY STEPHEN TAVENER


This is a two player Whist variant very thinly themed around constructing pyramids in Ancient Egypt. The goal is to collect cards to add to your "pyramids" (stacks of cards of the same suit in descending order). Players can only have one pyramid per suit. If they are unable to add a collected card to an existing pyramid, they must demolish one and start again. From the rules: "At the end of the game, players score points for each pyramid equal to the number of cards in the pyramid squared."

Stephen Tavener
United Kingdom
London
England
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18. Board Game: Pangolin Pandemonium [Average Rating:3.00 Unranked]
Sean Ross
Canada
North Vancouver
British Columbia
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Pangolin Pandemonium
BY STEPHEN TAVENER


Pangolin Pandemonium is a racing game for 2-4 players. Player's use Jacks to represent pangolins (a sort of armoured anteater that rolls into a defensive ball and can roll away when threatened) racing around a hilly course. The course is constructed from the cards A-7 in four suits. The black cards represent downhills where the pangolin rolls forward the amount shown on the card; while the red cards represent uphills where the pangolin rolls backwards (also by the amount shown). Players can move less than the full allotment by stopping to collect ants. Ants can later be spent to move the pangolin additional spaces (one for each ant spent) but they also pose a risk. If you have two or more ants then you must draw a card from a risk deck. If the value of the card drawn is less than the number of ants you've stored up, you must move backwards by the difference between the two amounts. The object of the game is to be the first pangolin to complete a single lap (or more laps, if you'd like a longer game).

Stephen Tavener
United Kingdom
London
England
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19. Board Game: Royal Ace-assin [Average Rating:6.50 Unranked]
Sean Ross
Canada
North Vancouver
British Columbia
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Royal Assassins
BY GARY HUDDERS


Royal Assassins is a combat game with a Memory element. Each player has one red and one black suit in their draw pile. One player is Hearts, the other Clubs. The object is to kill the opposing player's Royal Family (King, Queen, and Jack in that player's suit). To kill an opponent's card you flip it up and then you must play a card of the same colour as the opponent's and of the same rank. If you fail, you do not reveal your card; the card is left face-down on the table and your opponent's card is placed face down again as well. You'll need to try to remember where the cards are so that when you get a matching assassin you'll be able to strike effectively.

Gary Hudders
United States
Montana
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20. Board Game: Modul4r [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Sean Ross
Canada
North Vancouver
British Columbia
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Modulation
BY PHILIP GOLDFARB


Modulation is a plain trick game belonging to the Trump Group (Euchre belongs to this group). It's distinguishing feature is it's trump selection. A trump rank (between 2 and 14) is selected using a method similar to Euchre's trump suit selection. And, also like Euchre, the player or partnership who nominates the trump has set a contract to take atleast 3 of the 5 tricks for this round. Scoring, again, is similar (though not identical) to Euchre. The special thing about the trump rank selection is that, when you nominate a rank, you are also nominating any other rank that is a multiple (or has a modulo of zero, hence the name of the game) of the one you've chosen. So, if, for instance, you chose to make 4's trump then 4's, 8's, and 12's(Queens) would all be trump.

Philip Goldfarb Styrt
United States
Rochester
New York
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21. Board Game: Kings and Queens [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Sean Ross
Canada
North Vancouver
British Columbia
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Kings and Queens
BY LAJOS


This entry is a no-trump, exact-bidding, point-trick, trick-taking game. The game is played with a shortened deck containing ranks 2-5 in four suits, plus all of the Kings and Queens. The ranking of the cards is as you might expect (2 < 3 < 4 < 5 < Q < K) except that a 2 will beat a King (2 > K). Only the Kings and Queens are worth points, but they are worth a varying amount of points depending upon how many of each are in play. Also, the Kings' points are positive while the Queens' points are negative. If there were say, 2 Kings in play (the others are buried in the undealt cards), each King would be worth +12/2 = 6 points this round. If there were 3 Queens, each Queen would be worth -12/3 = -4 points. Knowing this, your goal for each hand is to predict how many points you will capture; your score for the hand will be the absolute difference between your prediction and the actual amount of points you've collected. Hands are played until someone's overall score is equal to or greater than 50. The player with the lowest score wins.


NOTE: The game "Kings and Queens" selected for this geeklist item is not the game that has been just described.

Lajos
Japan
Hachiouji
Tokyo
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22. Board Game: Bet Royal [Average Rating:4.33 Unranked]
Sean Ross
Canada
North Vancouver
British Columbia
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Royal Blind Bid
BY JULIEN GRIFFON


This game is exactly what its name implies: it's a blind-bidding auction game where, each round, players bid on a lot of 3 face-cards. From a hand of 7 cards, players place face-down bids of one or two cards before each royal. The bids are then resolved and each royal is given to the player who bid highest on it. If there's a tie, no one gets it. This continues until all of the royals have been auctioned. Players then score points for each card they've collected, plus bonuses for any combinations that can be formed using those cards (3 of a kind, etc).

Julien Griffon
France
Nantes
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23. Board Game: Tower [Average Rating:5.50 Unranked]
Sean Ross
Canada
North Vancouver
British Columbia
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Two-Handed Tower
BY ANDY VAN ZANDT


I'm not sure how to classify this entry. The nearest I can come to a traditional card game classification would be the War Group but much more sophisticated. Each player has their own draw pile, which they separate into two piles, one for each hand (hence the "Two-Handed" in the game title). Cards are played into one of 3 regions between the players: either to the left (from the left draw pile), to the right (from the right draw pile), or to the center (from either pile). The left and right regions are referred to as "buildings" while the central area is called the "Tower".

Each area serves a different purpose, and its effect is triggered by "collapsing" the building. Cards played to the left building are used to set a form of trump: cards of a certain suit are worth 0.5 more than their regular value (so, if Hearts are trump, a 3 of Hearts would be worth 3.5, not 3). Cards played to the right building are there to win a single point (highest card wins). Cards played to the Tower will win 1 point for every X number of cards, where X equals the number of players (so, in a two player game, if the Tower collapses with 8 cards, the player with the highest card in the Tower will score 4 points). The game is played until one player has depleted their draw piles. Most points wins.

Andy Van Zandt
United States
South Ogden
Utah
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24. Board Game: Tarot [Average Rating:6.67 Overall Rank:2606]
Sean Ross
Canada
North Vancouver
British Columbia
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Tarot Poker
BY WIM VAN GRUISEN


This entry by Wim van Gruisen is not strictly for two players but, like regular Poker, it can be played with two. There are also existing variants of Poker for playing with a Tarot deck (some use the trump suit or Major Arcana as a fifth suit, others add special combinations that rank amongst the more familiar Poker hands). What's original about this variant is that it imbues each of the Major Arcana cards with a special, game changing power. From simple things like the The Empress (III) making Queens wild, to the aptly named Devil (XV) that forces every player other than the person who played it to bet the current pot amount or fold. Nasty....

The game is meant to be played with many variations of poker including draw, stud, and community card games. If you could whip up some nice cards like the ones pictured to the left (from Mystick Domination) with the rules text included, (maybe get them printed up at Artscow or someplace similar) I imagine that would be ideal.

Wim van Gruisen
Netherlands
Den Bosch
Unspecified
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25. Board Game: Pocket Pictures [Average Rating:5.25 Unranked]
Sean Ross
Canada
North Vancouver
British Columbia
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Pocket Royals
BY CHRISTOPHER LESTER


Pocket Royals is an auction game fairly similar to "Royal Blind Bid" (discussed earlier). Players bid on Jacks, Queens, and Kings (and, optionally, Jokers), using spot cards. Bidding can be open or blind depending upon which game variant you choose to play. There is no limit to the number of cards you can play to bid on a single face card. The face cards are worth different amounts of points depending upon their rank. The object is to collect the most amount of points by the time these cards have all been auctioned off.

Christopher Lester
United States
Texas
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